Dovetail Removal Fixture

© Frank Ford, 3/11/98; Photos by FF, 3/10/98

Here's a little rig I've been using for a few years now.

It's a simple clamping fixture which applies a good strong vertical pull to the neck while I'm steaming the dovetail joint.

This jig consists of two leather covered plywood rails which pivot on a 1/2" thick aluminum bar. There's a 1/2" diameter threaded rod centered on the bar and a cross-shaped thumb wheel to pull up on the medium-carbon steel U-shaped clamp. I've fitted the bottom of the clamp with a contoured maple plate and leather pad.

The rails are long enough so that when I clamp them to the top braces through the soundhole I have tremendous leverage to hold the rig under load. Here it is set up on a Martin D-18:

(The wing nut on top is just to keep all the parts together when I take the fixture off and put it away.)

Look how the steel bar bends when I tighten the screw:

This bend gives me about 1/2" of good solid travel when the neck becomes loose. It also limits the amount of pressure I apply at the heel so I can't get carried away and squish something!

This setup gives me a fair amount of space above, and is completely clear at the sides and bottom of the guitar.

I'm able to pick the guitar up and turn it over or all around, even holding it in playing position so I can wiggle the neck a little to help loosen it:

I keep the steam hose taped to the upright threaded rod so I can yank the guitar around any old way I want and not strain the steam needle.

If I'm working on a really sensitive instrument with a delicate finish, I'll frequently use my
air cooling setup to keep from damaging the finish with steam and hot water.

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