poor man's saddle mill

Ask your wood and other materials questions here. Please DO NOT post pictures and ask us to identify your wood, we have found that accurate ID is nearly impossible, and such discussions will be deleted. Thanks.
Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

I was routing a saddle slot today and thought I would post a few pictures of the way I do it. I like to rout the slot after the bridge has been glued to the soundboard, and in this case, after the guitar has been strung up and the best saddle location found by placing a temporary saddle under the strings. It takes some of the pressure off having to place the bridge precisely where the saddle slot needs to end up.
After the slot location is determined (by measurement or using temporary saddles) a line is drawn on the bridge. The jig is then aligned using a piece of wood that gives the same off set as the router bit.
Attachments
saddle jig1.jpg

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

The router is placed in the jig and the bit is located at the "start" and "stop" ends of the rout and fiducial marks are placed on the jig. These allow a clear view of the end points of the rout. The router is adjusted to make a shallow cut, placed in the jig , raised so the bit is slightly above the bridge, switched on and gently "plunged" into the wood. The router is then moved back and forth to the fiducial marks and the end points of the rout. This is repeated as needed to give the full depth of the rout (I usually do it in three passes).
Attachments
saddle jig 2.jpg

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

The reason I use - three - clamps placed over the sides is I don't want to place "tons" of clamping pressure on the edges of the body. One clamp slipped on my first pass, but two kept things held in place. I reset the third one before the next pass.
Attachments
saddle jig 3.jpg

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

The finished slot ready to have a saddle fitted.
Attachments
saddle jig 4.jpg

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Clay, is that a classical or pinless steel string bridge? If steel string, how about some details of the slots?

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Hi Carl,
This is the latest permutation of my travel guitar bridge. It is made so the strings slip out the back and remain with the neck. The neck unbolts and slips into the body through the tail port of the guitar. The neck is retained at the peghead in a recess in the head block and bolted through the heel at the tail port. The bridge was redesigned from my original to increase the gluing footprint and add additional strength to the slots
Attachments
trav guit bridge.jpg

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Here is the "old" design. There was another design in between that used a closed slot - it gave more foot print, but no additional strength to the slots. The latest design is probably the heaviest of the three - gain some, lose some.
Attachments
travel guit bridge 2.jpg
travel guit bridge 2.jpg (71.49 KiB) Viewed 3392 times

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Looks like the slots are generally sized to the stings. How are you cutting them?

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Hi Carl,
I start them with a half moon blade mounted in an oscillating saw, and then widen and "ramp" them as necessary with various saws and files before gluing the bridge to the guitar. The windings at the ball ends are fatter than the string so that is taken into consideration

Bob Francis
Posts: 522
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Bob Francis »

Really nice Clay.

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Thanks, Clay. I figured you had an easy way. Here's some pics of my attempts at a pinless. Not shown is a round bottom groove milled on the drill press across the front of the bridge to hold the string balls. Holes were drilled from that groove into the recessed area in front of the saddle. I like your slots better. The bass bridge is Bocote, the other Manzanita.
PICT0281.JPG
PICT0264.JPG

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Sorry for the hijack. I'll use that mill design on the next built. Thanks.

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Nice looking bridges, Carl,
As many discussions as I have led astray over the years how could I take offense? Whenever I see something I am curious about I ask. We are here to share experience and knowledge. Over the years I have been slightly modifying the design of my "take down" travel guitar (guitAR-7 model :lol: ) while still keeping the concept of an easily portable full size and full scale length guitar. Aside from the bridge, another change I have made from the one in the "archives" is to pocket the neck into the body and cut the pocket to allow the neck angle (and action) to be changed by turning a screw (machine bolt). This also allows the end of the fret board to "die" at the end of the neck and be less susceptible to damage. I am now using more of a "snakehead" peghead similar to what some old Gibson guitars used and on this last guitar, the Gibson style heel. Small changes over time.
On the guitar pictured above I tried a new waterbourne finish (Endurovar) and found some things I like and some I'm not real happy with. What I like is the ease of application (brush-able) and environmental friendliness (low odor, VOCs), but things I don't care for is the difficulty of touching it up and the way it changes the color of the wood.
Here are two guitars made with matching wood. The one on the left finished with Mohawk nitro, and the one on the right, Endurovar.
I guess I'm drifting this thread further, and in my dotage, I actually put this in the wrong area. :oops: I should have put this discussion in the tools and jigs section. We are lucky we have such understanding moderators. :D
Attachments
Endurovar color 1.jpg

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Thanks for the encouragement, Clay. You've provided several tips that have helped me out. Remember the hole I sanded in the side of the quilted maple Jumbo and your binding suggestion?
I was going to ask for some tips about the Enduro-Var but then found Chuck's massive thread in the finishing section. I usually spray nitro but the upright bass I'm finishing won't fit in the spray booth.
Enough diversions for now......

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2593
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Barry Daniels »

I think this may qualify as a poor man's saddle mill because I spent less than $200 on it. I built it a couple of years ago but have been reluctant to post it here cause it is such a Rube Goldberg looking tool. But here it is anyways. I made it with linear slides and zero-backlash ball screws that I bought of eBay. It uses a 60k rpm pneumatic spindle that gets used in other jigs. I took some inspiration from David Collins bridge mill that is no longer available.
IMG_1777Resized.jpg
MIMF Staff

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2593
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Barry Daniels »

It is kind of heavy but that may inadvertently help stability. The ideas I got from David Collins is to use two base plates that allow incremental adjustment so that I can make the cut in several passes. I can easily move the upper base over a few thousandths by using feeler gauges so I can widen the slot to the desired width. Taking small cuts creates a very smooth channel.
Attachments
IMG_1782Resized.jpg
IMG_1781Resized.jpg
IMG_1778Resized.jpg
MIMF Staff

David King
Posts: 2678
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by David King »

It's a thing of beauty!

Chuck Tweedy
Posts: 1158
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:25 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

its a beauty all right.
but Barry, i don't get the blocks with the big slits in them. On the opposite side of the unit from the X-stage. In line with the Z-stage.
what are those blocks for?
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2593
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Barry Daniels »

Stops. I had to add another set of stops for each axis because the ball screws exert a lot of force. Not really happy with the design or function of the stops. Need something smaller and stronger. Ideas?
MIMF Staff

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: poor man's saddle mill

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Hi Barry,
A Mad Scientist would be proud! Steam punk meets the unibomber (Ted liked to use wood in his devices too) :lol:
All kidding aside - that looks like quite the contraption. I'm sure it comes in handy for a shop that does much repair work - and at a price much more attractive than the Collin's mill.

Post Reply