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Looking at the picture for this group and numerous other places I see people designing with circular holes cut into headstocks and the shaft of the tuner running through. I see the advantages to this approach being ease of construction and getting a sharper break angle off the nut. I know that shaping the right angle cut for my tuner design was a bit of a bitch. My question is this. If you are using the circular hole design, do you have to drill a new hole through the tuner shaft for the string to run though? I'm looking at my tuners and the hole for the string seems too close to the end to use in this design.
Cheers from Australia.
You are asking about making a simple headstock design by simply cutting an approximately 1/2" wide hole down through the face of the headstock, and then drilling a 10 mm hole from the side of the headstock to intersect this 1/2" hole at right angles. This second hole would be for the machine tuner's shaft that receives the string from the face side of the headstock through the 1/2" hole. On multi-string instruments, additional such holes would be drilled for the additional strings and tuners. Yes, this method is fairly well established, and is widely used with a class of instruments I call stick dulcimers (which includes strummers, strum sticks, and similar instruments that go by dozens of other names). In fact, the McNally Strumstick™ uses this method of headstock design. Here's a photo that shows how they do it. Hopefully, this has answered your question.
There are several other "easy" headstock designs that you might also want to consider. I'd suggest searching CBN using the terms "head" or "headstock", and also checking the photos of instruments built by CBN members. You might also check my personal account on CBN for the articles I've written and my photos for how I like to make headstocks. Ease of building is a primary concern for me as well since all I use are hand tools except for the electric hand drill I use to drill holes.
Best of luck with your builds.
P.S. Couple more photos to get you thinking...
Hi again, Philip.
In re-reading your question: Yes, the 1/2"-ish hole drilled down through the face of the headstock is sometimes very close to the edge. For this reason, a drill press is probably the preferred tool. You also might try drilling the hole by progressing through a series of increasingly wide drill bits. For instance, start with a 1/16", then a 1/8", then a "1/4" inch then a 3/8", etc. until you get to your target hole width. Again, any jittery hand can mess up your hole cut. And the bigger the bit, the more it will want to grab and yank your hand held electric drill in the wrong direction. So, if you don't have a drill press, you might try finding a friend who does.
Rand pretty much covered it. I'd just like to add that I usually use this method when useing inline tuners similar to those shown in Rand's photo. It does make construction easier when useing these types of tuners IMO.
Yes, when I use 1x3 inline tuners, I generally slot the headstock after cutting down the headstock as described above. However, when I use individual tuners, I'm more likely to drill individual holes as shown in this photo.
I have some more photos at home on how I make my slots... drill a series of holes in a straight line and then with ever increasingly wide drill bits, keep drilling until the holes start to join, then take out a chisel and some files and make the sides of the slot flat. Maybe I should do a blog entry on my personal page on how I make headstocks. Haven't done one recently and my techniques are much different than they were a year ago.
Sometimes things look better in photos than in reality - must be the reduced resolution of photos. I haven't seen a hand cranked drill for ages. So, when I say "I use just hand tools", the one exception is my hand drill which is electric. I wish I had an electric drill press, but I don't really know where I'll put it. If I buy a big drill press and just set it up in my guest bedroom-office-wood shop, my wife will likely kick me out of our house (flat). Well, happy building.
Depending on the location of the "tuner access holes" (those large holes drilled through the face of the headstock so that the strings can be routed to their respective tuning machine post hole) and the type of tuners you have, you may or may not have to drill new 2mm-ish post holes. A drawing can more easily show what I mean:
Most 1x3 inline tuners that I have seen come with the string post holes all lined up at the same level. So, if this is the kind you have, then your largish tuner access holes will also have to line up, and so you will need to use more small pan head wood screws to route the strings properly from the nut to their respective tuner. However, if you shop around enough, you might find a tuner with the string post holes cut in a diagonal relationship to each other. If you have one of these, then you should also cut the tuner access holes along the same diagonal. Both of these situations are illustrated in the drawings above. Most likely you want to emulated the McNally Strumstick, but only can find a 1x3 tuner with the string post holes cut at the same level. In this case, then yes, you will have to drill two second holes in the tuner shafts, one above and the other below the hole that's already there. I hope you have the skill to do this precision machining task.
In my opinion, there are plenty of different headstock designs, and you should try to build a variety of different designs so you can more easily build a headstock around a given set of tuners. My inclination is to use a single long slot in the middle of the head stock with the 1x3 inline tuners that are commonly used on guitars.
Well, best of luck.