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Bushing Slot Head Tuners
© Frank Ford, 5/7/02; Photos by FF

Here's a simple job that was deceptively complex. The idea was to replace these heavy Schaller tuners with new Waverly reissue gears that would be more appropriate for this 1920s vintage Martin.
First, I had to make a little puller so I could haul out those bushings that were installed as bearings on the inner holes. Schaller made them to fit into classical guitar roller size holes. I mashed over the end of a metal rod to form a small hook.
Then, with a hard pull, I could get the bushings out. Naturally, these bushings don't conform to any known plug cutter so I set about making a simple cutter to avoid having to enlarge these already huge holes.
I chucked a piece of drill rod into my lathe, and drilled it with an appropriate size drill to correspond with the holes in the peghead. I've done this job with just a drill press, but the lathe gives me some insurance against getting the hole off center.
Then I used the carbide cutoff wheel on my Dremel to form a couple of crude cutting teeth into the edge of the tube I had created.
Figuring I'd be keeping this little tool for a future job sometime, I decided to heat treat it a bit. My only convenient heat source was a small propane torch, and it doesn't put out quite enough heat, so I laid the cutter on the element of my kitchen stove to get a head start in the heat department.
Now, we're cookin'.
A quick dunk into cold water, and the tool has a cutting edge of reasonable hardness, good for lots of cutting in mahogany.
So, here's the nasty looking little devil.
And, cut like the Devil it does. I made a bunch of little plugs by drilling into a thick mahogany block, without going all the way through. That way, I don't have to worry about jamming pieces up in my cutter.
Then, I band sawed the pieces off.
Cutting the plugs to approximate length, I glued them in place, tapping them in with my little ball peen hammer.
With just a bit sticking up, it was easy to trim off the excess with my broad knife.
This is the tool that makes this job go well. Thanks to Don MacRostie and the gang at Stewart MacDonald, there's a tool to drill slotted pegheads in perfect alignment for new tuners. This classical guitar drill jig is self centering and has the precise spacing of modern gears. I had made my own reducing bushing for the 1/4" necessary for steel string gears, although by now it's standard equipment from StewMac.
Notice, my new holes are perfectly centered top to bottom, which is ore than I can say for that other guy's holes!
And, after just a bit of touchup, the new gears fit right in place, and looked good.

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