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Why Dan Erlewine is attracted to repair magnets

Issue 60 May 01, 2008

Dan Erlewine Why I'm attracted to repair magnets

I started using magnets for some unusual guitar repairs. Pretty soon they became everyday repair tools. This morning I noticed that they’re everywhere in my shop — I’m hooked!
Look at some of the problems they solve:

Dan Erlewine signature Dan Erlewine, May 1, 2008
Doing the impossible: SANDING

Stikit Gold Sandpaper
Stikit Gold 80-grit Sandpaper
Repair magnet for sanding

Sanding with a repair magnet
Sanding impossible spots
On this cutaway guitar, see how a 1" repair magnet on the outside controls a piece of sandpaper on the inside. The inside magnet is faced with 80-grit self-adhesive sandpaper, and it follows wherever you move the outer magnet. This setup powders away glue residue beside braces and anyplace you find it hard to reach with your hand. The outside magnet is padded with a scrap of smooth leather, so you can slide it back and forth while the inside magnet does the work.

Can you reach this far inside a guitar to spot-sand any other way?
Doing the impossible: CLEANUP
Repair magnet for glue cleanup
Cleaning impossible spots
Instead of sanding, bundle the inside magnet in damp cloth to clean up Titebond glue squeeze-out when you glue braces.

Guitar Repair Magnet
Guitar Repair Magnet
Doing the impossible: CLAMPING
Magnets as clamps

Adding extra magnet strength
Clamping impossible spots
Magnets embedded in wood or plastic cauls become clamps that pull together even though they’re not attached. Use an inside/outside pair to put the squeeze on a crack where no clamp could reach. Or as a third hand to hold a bridge caul in place while you set up your soundhole clamps.

Power tip: Two magnets stacked together increases their clamping strength a bunch, and stacking up three or four makes them even stronger. A chunk of steel or iron stuck to them (like the thread cutting die shown here) makes the stack even stronger. Try different combinations to see how much clamping pressure you need. The stack you see here packs a wallop — three magnets on one side, plus the steel die, and another magnet on the other side with a chunk of steel stuck on. That may be more magnetism than you want to tangle with!

Soundhole Clamps
Soundhole Clamps
Video link: Mini Cam Clamps
Video headline: Mini Cam Clamps

Check out this video on
Dan Erlewine demonstrates the Mini Cam Clamp — his lighter, skinnier version of the traditional cam clamp. See how less bulk means more clamps will fit in tight spots like this one.

Magnets around the shop:
Repair magnet holding nut files
My repair vise is the target for a lot of magnets. How about this: nut-slotting files right where I need them. I’m working on a Gretsch White Falcon, moving from one gauged file to the next without even turning away from the work.

Nut Slotting Files
Nut Slotting Files
Repair magnet holding screwdrivers
On the base of the vise, I have one magnet to hold the guitar tech screwdriver set with all its bits in one handy spot.
Guitar Tech Screwdriver Set
Guitar Tech Screwdriver Set
Repair magnet for stain mixing
For finish touchups with stains, magnets hold my “artist’s palette” (a plastic lid from the kitchen). I hold mixing cups of lacquer thinner by dropping a small magnet in them.
Repair magnet on a drill press
Q: Can you find the tools in these pictures?
A: Yes. It's always easy to find these tools. My drill chuck key never gets lost because I hang it on a magnet, and my hack saw has a magnet screwed to its handle. (Those holes in the magnets are handy.)
Repair magnet on a hack saw
Repair magnet remover
One last tip: You’ll like this when you try to pull these super-strong magnets apart. I made a wooden handle with a short brass peg in it. The brass won't stick to a magnet, but it will hook the magnet’s center hole allowing you to pull it sideways off its mate.
Pickup magnetizing rig
Wait! I’ve got one more!
I epoxied these two magnets to the jaws of a nut and saddle vise. This rig will charge the polepieces in a just-wound pickup — or change the pickup's polarity depending upon which way you run it between the magnets.
Nut and Saddle Vise
Nut and Saddle Vise

Dan Erlewine signature

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