StewMac Truss Rod Access Cutter Instructions

How to make a clean, centered access cavity for a Gibson® truss rod nut with the StewMac Truss Rod Access Cutter and hand drill.


The Stewmac Truss Rod Access Cutter turns a difficult operation into a simple, easy job.

In a traditional neck with an angled peghead, the truss rod access pocket must be cut into the peghead face. The peghead angle makes this cut very difficult unless you’re using this tool.

With the adjustable guide clamped in the truss rod channel, the piloted cutter easily creates a clean access pocket using a hand drill. It works with straight or curved truss rod channels in acoustic and electric guitars, as well as banjos and mandolins.

Adjustable guide - piloted cutter
Truss rod channels

Just follow these easy steps.

Step 1

Draw a line on the peghead face, 1/2" from the neck/peghead break angle. This marks the point at which you’ll stop cutting. Make this line about 3/4" wide.

Draw a line on the peghead face

Step 2

Score each line with a razor knife. Scoring this way helps prevent chipping, leaving a really clean access pocket.

Score each line with a razor knife

Step 3

Place the adjustable guide in the truss rod channel. The front of the guide has the slot for the piloted cutter. Align the front of the guide with the break angle of the peghead.

Using a 7/64" Allen wrench, lower (or raise) the rear of the guide until it touches the bottom of the channel. Then adjust the front in the same way. Be careful not to press down so firmly that you squeeze the pilot slot closed. You want the pilot cutter to move freely in the guide.

Scoring Front
Scoring Rear

Step 4

Clamp the neck into the vise. Use a pad or caul on the back of the neck to prevent marks from your vise jaws.

Place the adjustable guide in the truss rod channel

Step 5

Insert the pilot into the guide.

Clamp the neck

Step 6

Running your drill at medium speed, cut the access pocket up to your scored line.

Insert the pilot

Step 7

You’re done! A clean truss rod pocket.

All done!

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