Homemade bushing puller to protect the peghead

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Issue 216 May 08, 2014

Dan Erlewine needs to pull the tuner grommets/bushings from the peghead of this old Gibson. The lacquer is already damaged, and pulling the bushings can yank finish off too. Dan rigs a jig that holds the finish down while the bushing comes up.

In this Trade Secrets video:
  • A simple jig that keeps old finish from pulling up
  • Pressing out the bushing with a clamp and short bolt
  • A draftsman's template helps chisel a hex shape
  • Safety tip for drilling acrylic

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Trade Secrets! Guitar Shop tech tips from stewmac.com]

Homemade bushing puller

Dan Erlewine: This is the peg out of a 1938 Gibson H-150 steel guitar. It's a seven stringer, which makes it a little bit more rare than the others. What I'm doing to it is a lot of repair work, but one thing is remove the tuners and pull these bushings out, so I can clean the peghead and look down in some of these holes and see if the wood is cracked and glue it up, plus touch up that chipped lacquer. I think that's from water damage, but I don't know. I'm a little worried about pulling these bushings out, or grommets, as you might call them, because they're in tight and they can pull up wood, or pull up paint, and I don't want to make any chips. So, to hold down the wood and paint, I made the little hold down out of one eighth inch thick plywood, and it's got a piece of 3/16ths acrylic on the other side. That has a half inch hole drilled in it. When you're drilling plastics, acrylic, and metal, double clamp, because it'll jump up into the bit and could cut you.

And this has a hexagonal shape that I made by using an artist template and using it to guide my chisel, and chiseled out the hex. That's the diameter of the hex shape, and the hole in the acrylic gives the bushing someplace to go when I press it out, and I'm pressing it out with this brass machine bolt, three quarters of an inch. It just happens to fit right into the hole, and butts up against the bushing. So, if I clamp up from the bottom, out comes the bushing, and meanwhile everything is being held down [on-screen text reads: Swivel Handle Clamp from StewMac].

That come out perfectly clean. Now, you wouldn't be doing this just to clean a peghead, but I need to work on this peghead, so getting all the grommets out of the way will make it easier for me to do the painting and scraping, and polish that and buff it up. There is your homemade bushing puller, quarter 20 piece of brass bolt, piece of plywood, and some acrylic. I use the plywood because I can chop a hole in it with my chisel, and you can't chop acrylic. I like the acrylic around for templates, and I like that we have it available. It's just great stuff. So, if I make a little caul or fixture out of acrylic, it goes in this drawer. This is probably five or 10 years worth of stuff I've been saving, and there's lots more drawers of it. That was for pulling the anchor bushings out on a Les Paul Jr. I remember that. I'll remember this one too.



Dan Erlewine

Guitar Repairman and Builder

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