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Hey all.

-Have you tried the stewmac heatstick for removing necks?

-If so, how was it? Did it work and heat/loosen the neck in a reasonable time? Any wood burn? Etc

-Where the larger holes you have to drill a problem at all?

Thanks.

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How do you fill the holes?

Do you make small dowels and par them flush with a chisel?

yep! Just fabricate small dowel like plugs out of the same wood that your fingerboard is made out of. Glue them in with the grain oriented the same way as the fingerboard.Cut them flush. Reslot the plugs with a .022” slot. Continue repair 

I make side-grain plugs, rather than end grain dowels. More work but a better match. It requires supergluing tiny cubes of the needed wood to a long dowel. Let the glue cure overnight, then round the cube to fit the hole in the fingerboard, and then superglue with accelerator. Leave the plugs proud, and trim flush with a chiseI. I got this method from the Stew-Mac DVD on neck resets.

I just got the Stew Mac heat stick with their soldering iron and used it to pull the neck off of a 1930's Kay "Lyre" guitar.  Since it was my first time, I tried to follow the video directions as best I could, but just missed the pocket by a mm or so and ended up in the neck block.  It took nearly an hour and quite a bit of warming the heel with a hair dryer, but it eventually came loose with just a tiny amount of tear out. I'll certainly try it again and hope to eventually master the process, but I'm not throwing away my old espresso maker just yet!

A follow up to this post...  I have used the heat stick attached to a soldering iron for three neck removals with very mixed results.  I missed the pocket on the first 2 by a small amount and it took a terribly long time to generate enough heat to soften the glue.  In both cases, I ended up having to add additional water to the joint line as it started to loosen up.  On the second attempt, after about 1 1/4 hrs, I tried to remove the heat stick (I had been removing it periodically to avoid sticking) but the soldering iron itself, came apart.  This is the set that Stu mac sells and I followed the video meticulously.  It specifically said that if you missed the pocket,it was OK...just leave it in place and the heat would eventually spread throughout the area and loosen the joint.  

Stu Mac was kind enough to replace the damaged iron and I tried to use this set up on a 3rd guitar, a 1964 Guild F-30 NT Special.  I was extremely careful when drilling the guide hole, first using a small bit to locate the pocket and hit it perfectly.  An hour or more of letting the heat sink in simply didn't loosen the neck at all.  Rather than risk damaging the guitar, I ultimately removed the stick and went back to steam which was successful.  

Sadly, I just don't think that the soldering iron version of this tool can generate enough heat to work on a big neck joint like a Guild.  I think using multiple irons from 2 sides might work, but that's double the expense.  I will continue to try to master it on older, cheaper parlor guitars, though.

That's about the same story for me. The heat stick got stuck in the hole and the soldering iron broke. I went back to the old and trusted method using steam.

I just used the Heat Stick to remove the neck from a '45 Martin 00-18. It did take a relatively long time(almost an hour), and I had to clean off the heat stick frequently(every minute, at one point), to prevent it sticking. 'Clean off' meant scraping off the glue build up with a small scraper, a pain. The joint did eventually separate cleanly, and most importantly, to me, no steam damage the the very thin, brittle lacquer finish. To me, that's the only advantage of the Heat Stick.

I'm curious, about those of you who prefer the steam method: are you able to avoid steam damage to the finish? In the past, when using steam, I mostly avoided it, or if there was some minor blushing, was able to remove it with alcohol. But sometimes the damage, while slight, was there, and noticeable, requiring some amount of touch-up or repair. I used an old Krupps cappuccino maker, which, even with the steam control knob, generated copious quantities of steam. What are you others, who prefer the steam method, using as steam generators, and are you able to greatly reduce the quantity of steam, to prevent finish damage?

Some time back (yikes, could it be almost 25yrs now?) Frank wrote about one of his phenomenal ideas that he labeled "the air harness" ...for mitigating finish issues with steam when doing a neck reset. 

I was so intrigued that I built a version and still use mine regularly... although, to be fair, it's only pressed into service if there's any indication that the steam damage on a particular guitar will be excessive, or if the particular guitar (from the outset) seems so valuable or fragile that it's worth pulling-out all the available stops.

Here's the link from the frets.com page...   that Ford boy, always thinking, huh?!

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Tools/AirHarness/airharness...

Thanks Mike, but I already built and used Frank's air harness, which did help immensely. but some guitars inexplicably take their sweet time(which sometimes isn't very long at all) releasing, allowing for steam damage.                                    

What's your steam generator setup?

I use the old standard 2-qt aluminum pressure cooker, with an auxiliary "second stage" that's nothing more than a small coffee can with an "in & out" hose, just to catch some of the water as it exits the pressure cooker. 

It helps a bit and I figure that any improvement of the "water/steam" ratio is a step forward.  Been meaning to try a cheap cappuccino machine someday, just haven't found one at the thrift store yet!

Ok, thanks!

I use a handheld steam cleaner. I have removed the plastic safety handle to be able to refill the hot steamer, the replaced output hose goes through a small plastic petrol tank to catch some excess water. A rubber band is added to keep the on-button down for a continuous stream of steam. I have about 10 minutes or so of steam before I have to refill.

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