A Homemade Truss Rod
By John Fisher
I thought I would try this very easy to make truss rod for this guitar. I got some of the idea for the truss rod from a chat I had with Eric Hansel over at Ampage. It is simply a 3/16" threaded rod that I got from the hardware store. I bent the rod in half by heating it with a propane torch.
I heated the middle of the rod until it started to get red, then I slowly bent the rod in half holding it with 2 pairs of pliers. I have also done the same thing with success using a gas stove. In the picture above after the rod was bent I then heated it again to where is was red then I crimped the bend tight with a pair of pliers to make the bend nice and sharp.
Here is a closer look at the end when it is finished
For the other end I cut a piece of 1/4" square stock(about 1/2" long) and drilled a 3/16" hole in one end for one end of the rod to freely fit through. On the other end of the very short piece of 1/4" stock I made another hole that is a bit smaller almost right next to the first hole. I tapped this hole with a 3/16" thread. I then screwed the rod into this hole then bowed the other end of the rod into the other none threaded hole. You will notice that the rod is a bit longer on the bottom through the non threaded hole.
As you can see, I then screwed a long hex nut on to the treaded rod sticking out.
You can use a normal nut but I made this one out of a longer piece of hex stock from an old piece of junk that I had. It is best that the nut is made of brass because the softer brass will wear out before the steel truss rod does. It is also good that it is long because the tension on the threads is more spread out using a longer nut. This also helps the threads to not wear so easily
To illustrate how the truss rod works I tightened the nut. You can see that with the nut tightened, the top rod bows up. If this is in your guitar neck it will also cause the neck of your guitar to bow back. You do this when there is too much forward bow on your guitar neck from the tension of the strings.
Here is the truss rod placed in the neck. I cut a groove with a power saw and a guide just a bit more then 3/16" wide and about a half inch deep into the neck. You will notice that I did this while the neck was still somewhat square as the square neck helped me to use a guide for the saw. I also notched out as necessary the end where the nut is, to accommodate the nut. I also put some soft plastic tubing over the rod to minimize any vibrations for the rod while in the neck. You can get the soft plastic tubing from some auto supply places or places that do wiring for automobiles. The tubing is normally used for running wires through. Please note that I would have put the tubing on the full length of the rods but I just didn't have a piece long enough at the time.
I like the truss rod assembly to fit just barely snug but not too snug so it can move freely in the neck when adjustment is needed but certainly not too loose. I also make sure that the fret board will fit on top of it nicely without cramming the truss rod with too much pressure.
If a threaded rod in not available, it is possible to make a thread on the end of a 3/16" round bar. I even welded a piece of bolt on the end of a rod for my truss rod on my Les Paul project.
If you can use a finer thread then the standard thread, this will work a bit better as a finer thread will bend the rod a little slower an give more torque and there will be less risk of stripping the threads. I still used just a common threaded rod which still worked fine.
We were going through a great furniture factory, when our guide, the superintendent, pointed out to us a superbly grained and figured sideboard in the natural wood. "I want you to observe the beauty of this oak," he said. "It is the finest selected timber of its kind, and the secret of the intricate and beautiful graining is just this: that the trees from which it was taken grew in a spot where they were exposed to almost constant conflict with storms."
What a suggestive fact: The stormbeaten tree develops the closest and finest and most intricately woven fibers. When it is cut down and the saws lay bare its exquisitely figured grain, the cabinetmaker selects it as the material for his finest work.
So with the human life beset by sorrows, tests and trials. If it stands the storm, how the wind of God strengthens and beautifies it! We need life's stress.
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