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Fender Strat Body Crack at Trem Stud

6/2008

1.0 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 1.1 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
1. A Body Crack in a solid-body electric guitar is not a common problem. This strat developed a body crack at the bridge. 2. A Closer Look shows the effects of years of string tension and whammy bar dive-bombs at this vulnerable part of the guitar. To repair this, I’ll cut away the damaged alder and patch in a custom fit plug.
1.2 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 1.3 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
3. Removing the Damage starts with a hole saw on the shop’s drill press. The pilot bit of the hole saw follows the stud hole. I’ll stop cutting after I get about 1/4″ beneath the surface of the top. 4. Cleaning Out the Waste with a razor sharp chisel and a mallet.
1.4 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 1.5 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
5. Ready for a Forstner. My drill bit of choice for this job is a forstner bit. These bits cut really clean and leave a flat-bottomed hole. The only problem is they could be thrown off and damage the surrounding finish since the hole for the stud would interfere with the bit’s piloting tip. Drilling 1/4″ down with a hole saw will prevent the forstner from wandering. 6. Removing the Damaged Wood Cont.  This forstner bit chucked into the drill press is doing a fine job of cutting a clean, flat-bottomed hole.
1.6 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 1.7 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
7. Preparing the AlderPlug Blank starts with a jointer plane to ensure flatness. Next, I’ll drill a very shallow hole in the plug blank with the same forstner bit I used on the body. Then I’ll bandsaw just outside of the forstner cut line. 8. Shapping the Plug on the disc sander is pretty quick. I’m sanding the plug down about 1/16″ outside the forstner layout line I drilled into the top of the plug. The bed of the disc sander is andgled to 3 degrees which is giving the plug a taper.
1.8 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 1.9 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
9. Test Fitting the Plug. Since my plug is actually a cone, not a cylinder, the plug seats firmly part way down. I’m marking the plug where it contacts the top of the hole. 10. Final Shaping of the Plug is done with the bed of the disc sander set to 0 (90 degrees to the sanding disc). I’ll carefully turn the plug against the disc until my pencil line just starts to evenly disappear. This way I know that I’ll have a good, tight fit for my glue joint.
2.0 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 2.1 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
11. Gluing the Plug with hot hide glue will give me a very strong glue joint with easy water clean up. I’ll leave the plug clamped for 24 hours. 12. Removing the Excess Plug is done in 2 phases. The first is with the forstner bit.
2.2 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 2.3 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
13. Removing the Excess Plug Cont.  A razor sharp chisel gets rid of the waste to about 1/32″ shy of the guitar top. 14. Trimming the Plug Flush with a smoothing plane.
2.4 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 2.5 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
15. More Chisel Work removes the excess plug in the electronics and trem cavities. 16. The Trimmed Plug. Next I’ll drill out the plug for the trem stud. At this point I would do finish work if that’s what the customer wanted. To save some time and money, this guitar’s owner opted for a simple seal coat of shellac with no attempt to hide the repair with a polyurethane finish touchup.
2.6 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG 2.7 Fender Stratocaster cracked body at trem stud.JPG
17. The Repair is Visually Subtle since most of the plug is covered by the bridge and the pickguard. 18. A Strong Repair This fix should last as long as this guitar is in service.