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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:13 pm 
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Koa
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I am considering converting from Steam Power over to a soldering iron powered StewMac "heat stick". I have read the reviews and am wary of melting an expensive soldering iron. Has any other professional repair man who has done lots of neck reset jobs made the transition to this system, or any other system?
If a solid copper rod stuck down the hole and electrically heated will work to soften the glue, am I crazy to try to stick a couple of .080 copper house wires down there and hit them with my propane torch? Not kidding, heat is heat, right?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:19 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Not an experienced repair person at all but I would agree that heat is heat. That said, I'm far too clumsy to trust myself with a torch near a finished guitar if I had another option. I'd be afraid that I would be too focused on monitoring the neck joint and when it was hot enough and moving that my judgement might laps and have me melt the finish. I'd rather risk burning out an inexpensive soldering iron.

Edit:

By that I didn't mean to imply risking your current iron. I was trying to suggest buying a cheap iron and figure out a way to attach some copper wiring.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:00 pm 
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Koa
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Hi Bryan, my current soldering iron is the same one supplied in the Stewmac kit, and it seems that several have had the handle melting during a neck reset. That is the Weller kit, the Solomon kit seems to have a better record, don't know why, they seem similar in build.
My propane kit is one of the large base bottles that sits pretty stable on my bench, but I regularly warm up my hands and fingers when I'm doing a job, so I get what you mean.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:31 pm 
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I see that in the reviews now. I thought your concern was burning up the iron itself from heating such a big stick for long periods of time. I now see the concern is melting the housing itself. I hadn't thought about the fact that, in use, the housing is directly above the heat for prolonged periods. My idea of getting a cheap iron to experiment with is probably a no go. I would expect an inexpensive iron to be even less resistant to melting than a quality rig.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:03 pm 
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Koa
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I have tried the heat stick. Here's some notes.

1. The iron get's extremely hot. I had a unit straight up melt on me that had to be replaced. Mine was the Solomon unit.

2. To use the thing you pour water in the joint to make steam. It's the same thing as using a steam injector.

3. Less of a problem, but it does require a larger hole in the fretboard. It's easy enough to hide though.

4. It is considerably slower than just using straight steam from a needle. I can remove a Martin neck in about 10 minutes with no jig with just straight steam. The needle adds another 10 to that or more.

5. It does leave some scorch marks but it isn't a big deal.

6. On some necks it can't penetrate to the lower portions of the dovetail, thus you have some parts that do not get exposed to heat and thus don't wish to separate easily. A steam needle can send heat all through a joint very quickly and efficiently, something the heat stick just can't do.

When it first came out I tried it. Then I ditched it. And then tried it again 2 months ago. It just makes my shop flow so much slower. If you can make it work then I say go for it.

Honestly it is far from difficult to use steam and get no finish damage. Patience and careful application go a long way.



These users thanked the author DanKirkland for the post (total 2): Hesh (Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:51 am) • Pmaj7 (Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:30 am)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:46 am 
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Koa
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Thanks Dan, that is the report I needed, I am going to stay with my steam rig.
Do you use the StewMac needle? That is what I currently have, but I am thinking if I could find one just a bit bigger in diameter...

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:28 pm 
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Just an idea that's untried but might work. Wrap a coil of heavy wire around and solder to this thing for a "heat stick".
They sell these on E-Bay for about $5. I use them for heating my homemade bending iron and hook it up to a harbor freight router control.
Are you in Beaumont? I'm near Orange.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:47 pm 
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I believe Ian Davlin inspired the StewMac HeatStick with this approach using a power supply, nichrome wire and stainless tubing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUmADZc7JNY

I have used the HeatStick with great success. It does seem critical to make sure the tool fits your iron well so that you both get good heat transfer from the iron to the tool, but also so that temperature regulated irons can accurately sense the tool temp.
I do drip water in the access hole before and several times during the heating process, but nothing like when using steam. The neck pocket and heel dry much more quickly, and I've had no steam escaping the joint to cause blushing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh1U_6slJFF/
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh0bOC8lzzU/


The Heat Stick does require a little larger whole that could show on a rosewood fingerboard, but making a little plug is not too difficult. With the small steam needle, this isn't a concern.

Each approach has its benefits and challenges.



These users thanked the author dpetrzelka for the post (total 2): Pmaj7 (Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:17 am) • Hesh (Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:52 am)
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:21 am 
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Koa
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Thank you all for your input!
I have been working as a repairman for 45 years now, and still learn new things and new ways to do jobs. Neck resets are always a careful job, but some guitars are worse than others. Case in point is a 60's-70's Gibson LG with the wide heel that invariably has been glued to the sides. I have never pulled the neck of one of these without a headache!
The guitar on my bench that prompted this post. I could tell that it was "well glued"! I use a steam rig with a stainless-steel teapot equipped with wood plug in the spout, and a Stewmac hose & needle. On a Martin it usually takes about 15 minutes to pull a neck, after releasing the fretboard from the top with direct heat on the extension using a torch heated aluminum block.
As I mentioned above, after reading all your inputs and Stewmac's reviews on the "Heatstick" I decided to stick with steam power.
It took 45 MINUTES of steam to release the neck on this Gibson LG1, but the job is done!

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These users thanked the author David Newton for the post (total 3): DanKirkland (Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:35 pm) • Pmaj7 (Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:22 am) • Bryan Bear (Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:35 am)
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:35 pm 
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Koa
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LG's are a B**CH to get off from the factory. Glad you triumphed in the end. I've taken the approach of adding acetone to the cheeks a couple of times to dissolve the glue there before I even steam it out. Nice work though.

David Newton wrote:
Thanks Dan, that is the report I needed, I am going to stay with my steam rig.
Do you use the StewMac needle? That is what I currently have, but I am thinking if I could find one just a bit bigger in diameter...


I made mine about 4 years ago from McMaster carr parts. I'm sure if you wanted a larger diameter needle all it takes is some stainless steel tubing of the size you want.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:21 am 
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Koa
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Thanks Dan, especially for your encouragement.
I just saw you are in Texas, where? I'm in Beaumont.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:25 pm 
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When I saw this I was thinking, heat rises. I wonder if the guitar were in a rig, standing up, with the neck vertical, if it work work better,
1. The heat would not rise into the iron handle (and melt it)
2. The heat WOULD rise into the dovetail joint and soften the glue (faster maybe)

If the iron is vertical, a significant amount of heat is lost going straight up.

This is all a mental exercise, but seems to make sense to me.

I use steam, but I stand the guitar vertical so the steam goes into the dovetail and the glue softens quickly and I have less coming up at me. I do get blush around the heal to deal with sometimes, but I have attributed that to the lack of control on the espresso maker I use (steam / no steam, nothing in between).

My $.02
Regards,
GS



DanKirkland wrote:
I have tried the heat stick. Here's some notes.

1. The iron get's extremely hot. I had a unit straight up melt on me that had to be replaced. Mine was the Solomon unit.

2. To use the thing you pour water in the joint to make steam. It's the same thing as using a steam injector.

3. Less of a problem, but it does require a larger hole in the fretboard. It's easy enough to hide though.

4. It is considerably slower than just using straight steam from a needle. I can remove a Martin neck in about 10 minutes with no jig with just straight steam. The needle adds another 10 to that or more.

5. It does leave some scorch marks but it isn't a big deal.

6. On some necks it can't penetrate to the lower portions of the dovetail, thus you have some parts that do not get exposed to heat and thus don't wish to separate easily. A steam needle can send heat all through a joint very quickly and efficiently, something the heat stick just can't do.

When it first came out I tried it. Then I ditched it. And then tried it again 2 months ago. It just makes my shop flow so much slower. If you can make it work then I say go for it.

Honestly it is far from difficult to use steam and get no finish damage. Patience and careful application go a long way.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:53 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Hot air rises but when heat is applied to a solid material it radiates in all directions. Basic science.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:40 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Got that, but I still think the handle is melting because it is directly above the heat source and heat is rising up the metal iron. Metal is a better conductor of heat than wood so you would get heat transfer going vertical on a good conductor, also somewhat science-ie. If anyone uses this method, I'd be interested to know if, even angling the body 45 degrees makes a difference.

I was turned off by the idea of drilling a bigger hole than with steam.

I have never tried soldering with the iron perfectly vertical, and never had one melt on me.

Barry Daniels wrote:
Hot air rises but when heat is applied to a solid material it radiates in all directions. Basic science.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:41 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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You could make a simple heat shield with a piece of aluminum foil. Place it on top of the guitar and poke the heatstick through it into the dovetail.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:45 am 
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I made my own heatstick out of a piece of brass. Turned it on a lathe until the profile fits and I could stick it into a 60 watt soldering iron.

First of all, it's not nearly hot enough to actually affect the joint at all. I left the stick in there for an hour and the neck will not even budge. And because it's just 60 watts how is all that heat going to make it past the immediate area? Maybe if you used a 500 watt soldering iron, but by then you'll have other problems.

I'm not paying Stewmac the 100 dollars plus shipping for their special hardened copper. Brass is just as hard and just as conductive. The key is a soldering iron does not have enough power to make enough steam to affect the guitar neck joint unless you drilled a bunch of holes.

So I'm going back to coffee machines, that is proven to work. A coffee machine has a minimum of 1000 watts, so it will produce a large amount of steam that will melt the glue in the area when applied. If you did your homework (as in not put huge amounts of glue into the joint) you should not have much steam damage.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:04 am 
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I’m an amateur builder and have done several neck resets. I use steam also, but have been concerned about stubborn necks that take a long time to steam loose. My solution has been to drill 2 holes. One for the needle and one for the condensed steam (water) to drain out. Same fret slot. I steam with the fingerboard facing down so gravity helps drain the water. Seems to work well with no negative effects.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:28 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I use two separate heat sticks in holes drilled on either side neck block adjacent to the dovetail bearing surfaces. Taking care to not to drill into any part of the neck. Soldering irons are slower than a steamer, so I usually give them about 30 minutes. But 20 might be plenty. Yes to slower but with the advantage of more targeted application of heat and less water saturation. I do add a bit of water to the hole, but only a few drops at a time which gets evaporated quickly with a hot stick before it can spread through the wood. I have only done 3 necks with them so far, but I like the results.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:30 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Tai, actually copper transfers heat quite a bit faster than brass. I will have to look it up to see the exact amount but remember it being significant.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:59 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The thermal conductivity of Brass is slower than aluminum or copper. I found the following:

Aluminum 237
Brass 110 to 125
Copper up to 401

units: (Watts)(M^-1)(K^-1)


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