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View Full Version : worst nightmare realised! drillbits and ukuleles = bad times



raecarter
09-25-2011, 09:02 AM
I was fitting a misi to my kala acacia tenor today with my father in law he was drilling into the saddle with the small drill bits when it slipped and slid from.the saddle to the edge of my uke :-( it was a few hours ago and am okay it is the risk you take for doing things yourself. Plus I will never sell this uke so it won't affect the re sale price. It also tells a story luckily it is the same angle as the grain so it kind of hides it but unfortunately it is a deep scratch. I may get a car scratch filler for it unless anyone else has any ideas?

Gmoney
09-25-2011, 09:19 AM
YIKES!!! This is why I haven't done but one of these myself! I'm afraid to take a drill to one of my KoAloha's though I want a pickup in all three of them. I may try it again on one of my "lesser" ukes, but thanks for bravely posting about the accident.

Note to others: before driling through your saddle or lower bout, it is a good idea to:


Make sure the uke is securly held & on a flat surface free of obstructions
Make sure area is well lit
Before drilling through either lower bout or saddle, use "painters" tape (blue usually) to mask off around the saddle & area where the endpin jack will go to minimize inadvertent damage w/wandering bits
Use a "center punch" or awl to mark the point where you intend to drill & help prevent the drill from wandering when you start drilling
Drill slowly throughout, allowing the drill to cut its way through the material rather than applying too much force.



Hope that helps others who take on this task to think before they drill. Oh, and Rae?? I think dear old Dad-in-Law owes you a new uke for his "assistance" - just saying ...

Rick Turner
09-25-2011, 09:34 AM
This is why God invented luthiers...there are good reasons to pay for expertise.

I go to the extent of regrinding all my twist drill bits to make them more appropriate and safe for drilling wood. Standard bits are designed for drilling steel and the flute geometry is too aggressive for wood, brass, or Plexiglas/acrylic.

raecarter
09-25-2011, 09:37 AM
YIKES!!! This is why I haven't done but one of these myself! I'm afraid to take a drill to one of my KoAloha's though I want a pickup in all three of them. I may try it again on one of my "lesser" ukes, but thanks for bravely posting about the accident.

Note to others: before driling through your saddle or lower bout, it is a good idea to:


Make sure the uke is securly held & on a flat surface free of obstructions
Make sure area is well lit
Before drilling through either lower bout or saddle, use "painters" tape (blue usually) to mask off around the saddle & area where the endpin jack will go to minimize inadvertent damage w/wandering bits
Use a "center punch" or awl to mark the point where you intend to drill & help prevent the drill from wandering when you start drilling
Drill slowly throughout, allowing the drill to cut its way through the material rather than applying too much force.



Hope that helps others who take on this task to think before they drill. Oh, and Rae?? I think dear old Dad-in-Law owes you a new uke for his "assistance" - just saying ...

He feels so bad but as I said to him it was my choice I was aware of the risks. I made my bed and shall.lie in it. Incidentally it was your number 4 that could have stopped this unfortunately happening. It is worth noting I have already done this installation on my mainland with no issues.

OldePhart
09-25-2011, 11:08 AM
Yeah, that's one operation you don't want to tackle without the right tools on hand. Especially with a UST because most of them require that the hole be angled slightly and starting an angled hole without slipping or chipping the wood around the hole is is not an easy thing to do without a drill press so you can precisely control the angle without anything slipping.

I have a drill press and so far I've resisted the temptation to bring my KoAloha anywhere near it! (The Kiwaya, KSL-02, though, it's day is coming...) LOL

hmgberg
09-25-2011, 11:14 AM
Do you have a picture of the scratch? Maybe someone can offer you some advice about repairing/ hiding it.

raecarter
09-25-2011, 12:24 PM
Do you have a picture of the scratch? Maybe someone can offer you some advice about repairing/ hiding it.

This was more like.what I wanted really someone to come along and say use this. The acacia tenor is no longer satin I have buffed it with polish so I think with a scratch remover I could fill it then polish it?

TCK
09-25-2011, 02:49 PM
Yikes! What Gmoney said about a center punch times ten.

raecarter
09-25-2011, 11:23 PM
After yesterdays disappointment I got to plug in the kala to my Marshall as50d and that has cheered me up no end. It has a wonderful sound plugged in and all the strings sound balanced. I do love me a mi-si

UkuEroll
09-26-2011, 02:27 AM
I'm glad your happy with the result, if it happened to me, my ocd would kick in big style.

EDW
09-26-2011, 03:39 AM
I was fitting a misi to my kala acacia tenor today with my father in law he was drilling into the saddle with the small drill bits when it slipped and slid from.the saddle to the edge of my uke.........but unfortunately it is a deep scratch. I may get a car scratch filler for it unless anyone else has any ideas?

Ask your father in law if he has a belt sander. :p

Seriously though, sorry to hear about your mishap and glad you are handling it well.

Trinimon
09-26-2011, 04:00 AM
Ouch! Sorry to hear about the accident. Guess it gives the uke some character now. If it's not a deep scratch, maybe some polish might help blend it so it doesn't stick out seeing that you polished yours to gloss finish.

raecarter
09-26-2011, 04:33 AM
Ouch! Sorry to hear about the accident. Guess it gives the uke some character now. If it's not a deep scratch, maybe some polish might help blend it so it doesn't stick out seeing that you polished yours to gloss finish.

I was thinking a tiny brush and clear varnish just to fill in the groove aa little?

Shastastan
09-26-2011, 09:15 AM
YIKES!!! This is why I haven't done but one of these myself! I'm afraid to take a drill to one of my KoAloha's though I want a pickup in all three of them. I may try it again on one of my "lesser" ukes, but thanks for bravely posting about the accident.

Note to others: before driling through your saddle or lower bout, it is a good idea to:

Hope that helps others who take on this task to think before they drill. Oh, and Rae?? I think dear old Dad-in-Law owes you a new uke for his "assistance" - just saying ...

These are all excellent tips. I'm a woodworker, but have never made any instruments except a tongue drum. I guess I'm also a wuss. I would like to have a button on my tenor so that I can use a strap, but I'm a total chicken to drill the hole for it. I'm also afraid that I might get the spot marked correctly. I'm taking it into my local guitar shop to have it done. You see, there's a price to pay for being a wuss.:o

Wow! It only cost me $8 including the button. Well worth it and the strap really helps, too.

Tudorp
09-26-2011, 09:30 AM
man, that does suck, but if it don't effect the playability, and you have no plans in selling it. I say, play it, and tell the tale.

Rick, maybe you should formulate a commercial promoting the art of Luthieri inspired by horror stories like this. Start it in a dark greasy garage with a 1982 Camaro on blocks in the background, and a guy with a uke clamped in the mechanics vise with a screw driver and a ball peen hammer chiseling a binding channel, then freeze frame, and you walk into the picture and the scene behind you fades out, and fades in on your shop of lutheirs and machines.. ;) I should have been a producer.. hehheh

strumsilly
09-26-2011, 09:33 AM
These are all excellent tips. I'm a woodworker, but have never made any instruments except a tongue drum. I guess I'm also a wuss. I would like to have a button on my tenor so that I can use a strap, but I'm a total chicken to drill the hole for it. I'm also afraid that I might get the spot marked correctly. I'm taking it into my local guitar shop to have it done. You see, there's a price to pay for being a wuss.:o

if you are a woodworker, a strap button is easy. you are just drilling a small hole just a little smaller than a screw. if you use an awl and are careful, it's pretty easy. It's trickier to drill the larger holes needed for endpin jacks. A lot of bits are designed for steel and will chew up your finish. they are too aggressive. I actually installed a pick up in my Koaloha and it came out fine. but my motto is "fools rush in where angels fear to tread. " if ytou have more than one uke, just practice on a cheap one.

Leodhas
09-26-2011, 11:31 AM
Did a similar thing with an acoustic guitar, except i drilled on through to the other side, never again!

Trinimon
10-13-2011, 11:24 AM
Hey Rae, if you don't mind me asking, did you do any work to the saddle height or route out the bridge when you installed the MISI pickup? Thanks mate!

raecarter
10-13-2011, 11:57 AM
Hey Rae, if you don't mind me asking, did you do any work to the saddle height or route out the bridge when you installed the MISI pickup? Thanks mate!

You have to sand the saddle down the thickness of the pickup mate to get the same action height it needs to be very flat otherwise the different pressure will.affect the sound

joejeweler
10-13-2011, 12:04 PM
This is why God invented luthiers...there are good reasons to pay for expertise.

I go to the extent of regrinding all my twist drill bits to make them more appropriate and safe for drilling wood. Standard bits are designed for drilling steel and the flute geometry is too aggressive for wood, brass, or Plexiglas/acrylic.

Regrinding drill bit angles for wood use is a good idea, but doesn't guarentee other luthiers do the same or follow proceedures to prevent slivers of wood from being produced where they shouldn't.

Awhile back i spent about an hour making and using a small sanding block to attach to the end of a shaped piece of closehanger, in order to reach inside the soundhole and carefully sand off pretty good sized slivers of wood around the bridgepin holes of one of my favorite ukes. I've seen this on otherwise well made acoustic guitars also.

I suspect an overly aggressive drill bit flute angle, or a little too much drill speed or pressure caused this when the bridgepin holes were cut thru the top. I would guess it's pretty common, since it's generally out of sight.

As a practicle matter the uke sounded the same even after i removed the slivers of wood, but it bothered me when i was fitting new bridgepins and saw what looked like the underside of the top needing a hair cut! This was on an over $1000 uke,....so it can happen to the best of us,.....even luthiers.

BTW,.....i've drilled wood over decades and never recut my bits, as i also used them for soft metal work in gold and silver projects. But when i used them on wood, i went really S-L-O-W, and stopped when the drillbit just started to exit. Then either drill from the other side to meet up, or hand ream the exit hole to complete the hole. Another option is to put a piece of scrap wood behind the piece of wood you want to drill. It's presence there generally stops wood exit slivers from happening, but you don't always have that option.

When i worked on jewelry, drilling multiple very small holes in gold (size 62-70 drill bits) required patience, as the bits were fragile and prone to heating up. The holes were needed as a 1st step to set diamonds into, but if you tried to drill too fast a drill bit would break off in the hole.

Often it couldn't be removed easily(was below the surface), and you'd have to soak the jewelry item overnight in a water/alum solution to rust the steel out of the hole. (an old watchmaker's trick)

Trinimon
10-13-2011, 01:50 PM
Thanks much Rae, I'll be sure to dig out the calipers when I do the install.

Great tips there Joe. I've done a bit of woodworking and normally I'd use the scrap backer board when making cuts/holes etc when I needed to limit blow outs. Got a bunch of brad tip bits kicking around for woodworking that cuts cleanly. :D

I'll practice on my old laminate uke first JUST in case I mess up. lol

clayton56
10-13-2011, 09:51 PM
second the suggestion to just varnish it, although it will be more visible that way. A little water in the depression of the scratch will make the wood expand and then the scratch will not be as deep. If it goes higher than the original level you can sand it off.

Another method is to make a filler using white glue and sawdust of the same type of wood to fill it and then sand it off.

Furniture stores have crayons colored to match various woods, used for filling. Once you varnish it over it can disappear.

Personally I would leave it, and next time remember to use jigs and always mask your work. If you had taped a piece of poster board to the top beforehand it wouldn't have penetrated. I don't mean to preach, but...

Oh, and if you want to drill angled holes, you don't need a drill press. Just use the same idea as a mitre box. Get a block of scrap wood, and drill a hole through it at the angle you want. Clamp it to your work and use it as a guide when you drill the actual hole.

johncaudrey
10-15-2011, 11:23 PM
Hi Rae
Sorry to hear about your mishap. Can I just ask where you purchased the Misi from? Was it someone in the UK. Thinking about fitting one to my Kanile'a (or should I say getting a luthier to fit one for me!)
Let me know
John

Shastastan
10-16-2011, 05:25 AM
If you have to drill a hole in your uke, you don't need to use a possibly heavy and definitely fast turning electric drill. You can buy hand drills which allow you much greater control over the drill bit, and they are not spinning fast if you do slip. There are the types with the handle and gears and there is also on which holds the bit in ahandle thing and you just twist it with your fingers, with complete control. On the softer woods, you can just take the drill bit and make like a masking tape handle on the blunt end, then just twist it in your fingers and it will cut a neat hole hole, completely under control. This works even better if you first make a small hole and then make it bigger with a bigger drill it.

And for a pretty cheap price, you can get a collet (collar) for the bit and set the exact depth. I have some, but I did take mine to be done at our local shop. He used a small battery powered drill set on low.

raecarter
10-16-2011, 06:52 AM
Hi Rae
Sorry to hear about your mishap. Can I just ask where you purchased the Misi from? Was it someone in the UK. Thinking about fitting one to my Kanile'a (or should I say getting a luthier to fit one for me!)
Let me know.
John

Hi mate I bought both from mike at mainland even if customs catch you its still cheaper than buying in the uk