Cracked/split heel

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Peter Wilcox
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Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

A friend brought me his Yamaha FG-140. He'd fallen on it and cracked the heel, which had been cracked in the same place before and glued by someone with ? He tried to repair it himself this time - first by drilling holes in the fretboard down into the heel to put some screws in. He broke the drill bit off on the 3rd hole and gave that up. Then, he tried cutting through the crack with a hack saw, because he thought the crack was too thin to get the glue into, and it would flow right into the saw kerf. He asked me if I would continue the repair because he didn't have any clamps, and he couldn't get the drill bit out, and he'd hit that metal rod thing in there with the drill and wondered if he'd damaged it.
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yamaha-fg140-0.jpg
yamaha-fg140-1.jpg
yamaha-fg140-2.jpg
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

First, I got the broken bit out without much trouble.
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Wow, My 3yr old daughter just came up to me while I was reading this... I must not have had my poker face on because she says to me, "daddy, are you sick?"
I said "yeah, actually I kinda am."

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Mark Swanson »

Those guitars are actually pretty nice guitars, being made in Japan in the 70's. I am a fan of those "red label" Yamahas.
Most of the time, they will need a neck reset. This is the perfect time to do that, I'd take the neck out, repair it and reset it.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Next, I cut and sanded a thin piece of mahogany. I used an emery board to smooth the inside of the saw kerf, and fit the mahogany piece in, then glued it with Elmer's yellow glue. I was able to wick some glue into the crack also, but since this may have still had old glue in it I don't know how useful this was.

This is where it stands now. In retrospect I probably should have continued the saw cut down to the side and repaired it with a larger piece of mahogany. Next I'll fill the screw holes with epoxy and sanding dust, then sand and finish the heel. The original finish contains stain, which I won't be able to match, but on this guitar that will make little difference.

Also, I'll scrape off some of those layers of dried squamous epithelial cells stuck to the fretboard.

Any suggestions as to how to have gone about this differently?
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yamaha-fg140-4.jpg
yamaha-fg140-5.jpg
Last edited by Peter Wilcox on Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Wow, you guys are fast!

Mark, this guitar is Taiwanese, though I don't know that makes much difference. I used to have one, but traded it for a snow blower which I felt would be more useful. This guitar is a real beater - lots of finish chips and dings, grooved frets and scalloped fretboard. The neck angle is actually good, and the neck is straight with no hump where it joins the body. When strung up it should have a little relief - if too much I'll tweak "that metal rod."
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

I think the first thing you needed to do was give your friend 40 lashings. :o :lol:
But after that- I was imagining how I would fix something like this and I think I would have gone about it pretty much the same way. You have to replace the wood cut out by the hacksaw blade, so I would have made a thin piece of mahogany to replace the lost wood too. I was going to say I'd chisel out the sections where the fretboard was drilled and patch in new rosewood there. I'd say that unless he really drilled hard and for a while, that metal thingy in the neck should be just fine.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Michael Lewis »

Plug the holes with wood dowels and glue them in place. I would not put glue and dust in them.

Mark is on the right track to get it properly fitted and repaired, as it was most likely the glue joint that let go, and that should be thoroughly cleaned of all old glue before adding more glue.

The first "attack" struck me as rather humorous (to me) but was really a series of unfortunate events. It is difficult to repair something while you are making it worse. I know it was done with good intent, and it could be made whole again, but it is a bigger job now.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I sanded the repair too deeply and removed some original finish, so I put on some dark stain which stained the end grain well but not the area where I sanded off the original finish. I don't know what finish would be appropriate, nor how to apply it, so I just rubbed in some Danish oil I had on hand. Cosmetics are not a major factor in this repair (as you can see), but I'd like to know how to do it correctly.
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yamaha-fg140-8.jpg
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I filled the holes with epoxy and sawdust - they're not too noticeable on this guitar. I post a pic of the fretboard near the nut - this guitar has been played a bit.

Anyway. to have done this right I assume I should have removed the neck, and glued dowels in the drill holes (and leveled the fretboard and refretted). But how would you repair the heel once it is out? There is still the saw kerf to deal with.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. I live and learn until I die (or get Alzheimer's.) At least the neck is straight.
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yamaha-fg140-10.jpg
yamaha-fg140-6.jpg
yamaha-fg140-9.jpg
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Peter Wilcox wrote: Anyway, thanks for the suggestions.
To be fair, I wasn't actually giving any suggestions or advice, per se. I wouldn't insult you like that as I'm sure you have much more experience and knowledge on this stuff. It was an interesting case and I was really just trying to come up with a plan for what I would do if that were on my bench and see how close I came to the correct answer. :D And if I do come up with something that someone can actually use then awesome! I've been sponging off this community for long enough, I'd like to be able to give something back.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Ryan Mazzocco wrote: To be fair, I wasn't actually giving any suggestions or advice, per se. I wouldn't insult you like that as I'm sure you have much more experience and knowledge on this stuff.
I have very little experience with this, as made obvious by my repair. :oops:
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Steve Senseney
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Steve Senseney »

The fingerboard holes are not as noticeable as I thought they would be.

The frets need a little attention now.

Jeffrey L. Suits
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Re: Cracked/split heel

Post by Jeffrey L. Suits »

Mark Swanson wrote:Those guitars are actually pretty nice guitars, being made in Japan in the 70's. I am a fan of those "red label" Yamahas.
Most of the time, they will need a neck reset. This is the perfect time to do that, I'd take the neck out, repair it and reset it.
Agree with Mark--if this guitar doesn't already need neck reset, it will. Yamaha neck resets are worth it; your grandchildren will be playing it.

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