Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

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will
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Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguards

Post by will » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:03 pm

WARNING: don't set your home on fire! Please keep an extinguisher/source of water nearby if you try anything in this thread!
ALSO: I know that this is a lot of effort, and I could just buy a new pickguard. -but I like fixing things that appear beyond repair. It's "fun."



A while back, I figured out a way to flatten out a warped plastic/celluloid pickguard:
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=93643



I was pretty happy with the results but in some cases I wound up with nicely flat pickguards ...with holes that were in the wrong place since the pickguards had shrunken so much over time. I had two Jazzmaster pickguards where the screw near the output jack was over the rout with no wood to grab onto:
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There really isn't a good way to attach that guard to a guitar, unfortunately!

(P.S. anyone have a chunk of 1960's white pickguard for sale that I could use to patch up the guard in the picture above?)



Having a lovely pickguard that is too shrunken to be good for anything other than case-candy is a bummer! I figured I'd do some experiments to see if I could stretch a pickguard so that the holes would line up again. I haven't seen good information on doing this, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. Folks manage to wrap up accordions in celluloid, so why can't I stretch a pickguard?



...here we go!



I picked up a pair of "test subjects" on eBay for $10. They were both pretty wrecked, so I figured that at worst, they'd donate some tort patches to other projects.



One guard looked like it had a couple extra holes cut with a woodburning kit, and the other guard was coated with some sort of impenetrable glitter/goop mixture that had warped it into a bowl-shape:
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I scraped off the glitter while watching a bunch of MST3K. I tried stripping it with all sorts of what I thought would be celluloid-safe paint strippers - nothing worked (Spic-n-Span, Pine-Sol, brake fluid) There was a clearcoat under the glitter, so I could tell when I was getting close to the actual tort.
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If all went well, the plan was to cut the bridge area out of the hacked pickguard and use it to patch the glittered guard. The old flattening trick worked pretty well for these guards, but I knew that if I were to try and stretch the guards out, they'd probably get kinda wavy and I'd need to flatten them again (...then, they'd be all perfect and ready to install, right?)



I took a Jaguar body and taped a piece of paper over the pickguard area:
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...next I scribbled with a pencil over the holes to mark their positions:
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...then I spray-glued the paper to a chunk of MDF and drilled out the pickguard holes:
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The idea was that I would heat up an area of the guard until it got floppy enough to stretch, then I'd screw it down and let it cool - working my way around the guard until all of the screws were in place. I started with the worst guard ...in case fire happened. I used a heat gun with the smallest nozzle to better direct the hot air, and I set it on the lowest setting.



Just your basic Harbor Freight / eBay cheap heat gun. Smoke came out of the gun the first few times I used it, but it eventually grew out of that problem!
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We have ignition!
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I ran it under some water and the burning stopped quickly - still, I woundn't want this to happen to a favorite pickguard!!



I found that the heat gun worked best when I really focused the heat on the thickest part of the area I was intending to stretch, and kept the gun in constant motion - edges and thinner parts heat up fast! I'd just lift up on the edge of the guard, and when the heated area started to feel floppy/rubbery, it was ready to stretch. I was surprised by how stretchy the guard became when it was heated, though it did take some elbow grease to wrangle the guard's holes into position. If I couldn't manage to stretch the guard to the next screw hole on the first try, I would just heat it up and try again.



Also, I learned to avoid hooking my fingers into holes in the guard to pull it into place, because the edges of the cutouts were easily deformed by fingers. The bump on the edge of the pickup hole was caused by one of my fingers. What seemed to work best was for me to pinch the edge of the guard and pull.
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...though the material does seem to have a bit of "memory," so heating an accidentally deformed area would sometimes flatten it out again.



Hey! The holes! They line up!
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After that practice round, the next pickguard was easier than the first. (this is the one that had the glitter coating:)
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...though I did set it on fire. A little.
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Yep!
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Next up, a Musicmaster guard that had shrunken so badly, it couldn't be installed.



I was surprised that wrinkles like this could happen, and then be flattened out by a careful application of heat.
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Installation on a guitar = possible!
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I didn't set this one on fire, though they all have some waves that will need to be flattened out
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Next up, I'll try the flattening method from the previous thread on these stretched guards, and try stretching out a few other badly shrunken guards - I'll post some more pictures and any other hints I can think of as I learn more about doing this.



Again, if you try anything in this thread, PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:40 pm

10 out of 10 for patience & persistence!

Great to see someone attempting the "impossible" & getting results!
You think you can't, you wish you could, I know you can, I wish you would. Slip inside this house as you pass by.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by saxjag » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:07 am

Thanks for the pics! This is exciting -- like when Spitfire started experimenting with tort. Could end up being a whole new career for you! "Bring me your shrunken, your warped, your wrinkled pickguards craving to hug wood..."*

* Apologies to Emma Lazarus.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by will » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:15 am

saxjag wrote:Thanks for the pics! This is exciting -- like when Spitfire started experimenting with tort. Could end up being a whole new career for you! "Bring me your shrunken, your warped, your wrinkled pickguards craving to hug wood..."*

* Apologies to Emma Lazarus.
I like sharing what I've learned, but I really wouldn't want to turn this into a business - the results will be pretty good, but I think they'll be short of the perfection that some folks might be looking for. ...plus, I don't want to inform anyone that I've accidentally incinerated their pickguard!

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by PixMix » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:20 am

Amazing work! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by kosmonautmayhem » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:18 pm

This is incredible! :w00t: my hat is off to your patience and persistence!

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by mbene085 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:49 am

Ha! I thought I was the only one who watched MST3K while performing monotonous guitar-related work! Did that glitter end up getting everywhere? My last encounter with glitter left traces in my hair/clothes/house for what felt like forever (and no, strippers weren't involved at any point).

I'm very glad you didn't set anything on fire in the process, here. Celluloid + heat is always a gamble.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by mcjt » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:32 am

Will, i'm really impressed at your work!
I really hope no-one tries to duplicate your trials without being very careful! It would be too easy to ignite the guard... and one's hair!

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by will » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:39 am

mcjt wrote:Will, i'm really impressed at your work!
I really hope no-one tries to duplicate your trials without being very careful! It would be too easy to ignite the guard... and one's hair!
No worries there (I'm the guy in the blue sweater on the right side of the picture)

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by mgeek » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:41 am

will wrote:
mcjt wrote:Will, i'm really impressed at your work!
I really hope no-one tries to duplicate your trials without being very careful! It would be too easy to ignite the guard... and one's hair!
No worries there (I'm the guy in the blue sweater on the right side of the picture)

Image
what the hell is going on here? Shin buffing contest?

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by will » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:05 am

mgeek wrote:
what the hell is going on here? Shin buffing contest?

I used to make mean stuff for a game show called "Silent Library" - this one was a thing that would shoot rubber bands at someone's toes.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by mbene085 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:22 am

will wrote:
mgeek wrote:
what the hell is going on here? Shin buffing contest?

I used to make mean stuff for a game show called "Silent Library" - this one was a thing that would shoot rubber bands at someone's toes.
That sounds like a really fun job. I've seen a couple of episodes of that show...my friend was super into the original Japanese one!

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by mgeek » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:32 am

will wrote:
mgeek wrote:
what the hell is going on here? Shin buffing contest?

I used to make mean stuff for a game show called "Silent Library" - this one was a thing that would shoot rubber bands at someone's toes.

ahahaha that's AMAZING.

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by AWSchmit » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:27 am

Another must-watch thread.
I finally finish building a guitar, go to play it, and then remember, "oh yeah, that's right. I suck at playing... Why did I build another guitar again?"

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Re: Successful experiments in un-shrinking shrunken pickguar

Post by will » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:31 pm

I clamped one of the Jaguar pickguards between two boards with screws, but the edges of the boards seemed to open up a bit while it was baking:

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Time for a whole mess of clamps:

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I clamped it so tightly, it embossed the MDF:

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It seems to have shrunken a little during the flattening process - I'll try to stretch it out and flatten it again... though next time, I'll clamp it with screws going through the pickguard holes.

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