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Monday, May 21, 2012

Glueing a bridge, Argapa stylee

Let's have a tool post! (The bridge business is an excuse.)

When I glue bridges, I put strips of masking tape around the exact location of the bridge. I start with the one towards the neck. Measure and align carefully, making the distance between the nut and the saddle slot correct (this has gotten harder since I started using slanted saddles), and check that the tape is perpendicular to the centerline.

Then I put my wooden ruler along each side of the fretboard, and mark the extension of those edges on that first tape. I also do a final check of the bridge height and aim for the ruler to touch the top of the bridge when it sits on all frets.

With the two pencil marks it's easy to place the bridge correctly. It should be exactly in the middle of the soundboard. This time it was very close. I clamp my wooden ruler to the fretboard, getting enough pressure on the bridge to hold it in place while I put tape on the remaining three sides.

Then, with a C.I. Fall chisel from the legendary Swedish tool maker, I scrape away the finish between the tape strips. With the finish gone I put a one millimeter drill bit in my Proxxon drill. This is NOT a Dremel. Look it up. The bridge goes back on and I drill two holes in the saddle slot, down through the top.

With my brand new glue roller (ink roller really), I put a coat of Titebond glue on the underside of the bridge. Careful not to get any on the sides. I use a length of brass wire that goes into the holes to stop the bridge from slipping around. I stopped using brads because they always got lost. The brass wire lives wrapped around one of the small "f-hole clamps" I use for clamping the bridge.

Fit the bridge using the protruding ends of the wire, then clamp it with three or four clamps.

Put away all tools while waiting for the glue to grab and get tacky. Then peel away the tape and gently scrape off any excess glue. Tonight I did that with a piece of scrap softwood, the glue should peel off from the finish easily.

Then, finally, you get to play with the large bowl of beads.
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