Guitar Screw Rescue Kit

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Remove broken screws! Dan Erlewine shows you how to fix this common problem with this StewMac tool set.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Dan Erlewine, Guitar Repairman and Author]

The screw extractor and plug cutter

Dan Erlewine: I'm replacing a bent tuner for this guy, and the screw shank that came off when he tried to get the tuners off. And I can remove that shank with this screw extractor [on-screen text reads: Custom design for small screws - Guitar Screw Rescue Kit by StewMac]. I keep the extractor centered around that shank with the drill guide, and you can see down in there and it's right on the money. There it is, now all I've got to do is cut a plug to fit that hole.

A drill press is the best way to cut these plugs, but I can do it with the hand drill too. So I don't always bother with the drill press. You got to be steady, go slow and blow the chips out. There we go, a hard maple plug that matches the hole. [Dan applies some wood glue to the hole and presses the new plug down into the hole in the peghead and hammers it in]. I picked a pretty hard piece of maple, and I'm just going to cut it down right now [on-screen text reads: Dan's favorite wood chisels - Two Cherries Wood Chisels]. I waited about 10 minutes, it's probably not all the way dry, but you can cut it when it's swollen up and shrinks down below actually.

I'll use the tuners to show me where to drill the new screw hole, right there [Dan sets the tuners in the peghead holes and marks the new drill spot]. So, that's the extractor in the plug cutter. Now let's look at the drill bit.

The 3/16" drill bit

The 3/16" drill bit is to size a hole to match the plugs, and to drill holes out so you can plug them. It could be a strap button, in my case, it's the four mounting screw holes in this neck that a guy stripped out, and you use it with the guide blocks to keep you on center. [Dan sets the hole plug into the peghead hole he drilled and hammers it in]. I'll trim this flush and drill a new hole.

Use the extractor to make tiny plugs

Now I'm going to let you in on a little secret. This is something I do with the tool that we didn't ever really plan on. I used the extractor to cut really small plugs to plug small holes, check this out. I'm installing a set of waverly's on this 1946, 00-18 Martin [on-screen text reads: Waverly tuners can't be beat - Waverly Guitar Tuners at StewMac]. And it came to me with a set of Kluson's on it from probably the sixties or seventies. And it was built with a set of waverly's that are totally different. And none of these holes line up, and I've got about 24 holes to patch on the back of this, before I can get the new ones to fit. There's your holes. Some of these were pretty big and wallowed out, and I drilled them out with the drill bit and used the bigger plugs for them, 3/16. I think I have one more here and one more there to get. Then the little ones I'm going to cut all those with my extractor.

I made plugs down here on my mill drill. They're really accurate because the machine's heavy, I clamp the wood into the vice, crank the table along, and cut out a plug, crank a quarter of an inch, cut out another one. And my mill drill has a reversing switch on the motor, which is important, because these teeth cut and reverse on the extractor.

I can do just about as good a job with an electric hand drill, and I have to use the guide of course, otherwise it would jump all over. You want to clamp the guide right along the edge of the board. And that leaves one side of the hole exposed a little bit, you still get your round dowell out of it, but the sawdust falls out and it keeps the bit cool. You can use the extractor to make tiny plugs that are 110 thousandths in diameter, and they'll fit tight in a whole drill with the depth stop drill bit that measures 109, the black one [on-screen text reads: Never drill too deep with this - Depth-Stop Drill Bits from StewMac]. I probably didn't use to look forward to a job like this as much as I do now. And now it's actually fast and fun, and accurate.



Dan Erlewine

Guitar Repairman and Builder