Steamless Neck Pull by Ian Davlin

The heaters made for this video are single use. Each one was pretty much done after all the manipulation in and out of the holes. Also, the technique of letting the warm water work on the fingerboard extension is ill advised. There is a chance of letting the top free from the neck block and should be avoided. 

To make the heater simply insert the ni-chrome into the insulation, feed it into the tube, bend the end so that it makes contact with the south end of the tube and crimp it shut. 

The items ordered from the McMaster Carr are :

Line   Product Ordered Shipped Balance Price Total
1 5335K12 High-Temperature Chemical-Resistant Tube Sleeving .022" ID, for 24 AWG Wire, 25 ft. Length 1

1 0 4.00

2 51755K11 High-Pressure Precision Stainless Steel Tubing, Type 304, 1/16" OD, 0.052" ID, .005" Wall, 1' L 1

1 0 4.67

3 8880K78 High Temperature Nickel Chromium Wire with Bright Finish, 0.020" Diameter, 1/8 lb Spool, 110' Long 1

1 0 12.48


3 thoughts on “Steamless Neck Pull by Ian Davlin

  1. Very interesting idea. Do you have any concerns about the other glue joints in the immediate area (I.e. Top,back,sides to neck block, fingerboard to neck) being compromised by such a procedure? My gut reaction is that steaming the neck, given that is done with skill, would be less risky because if the fingerboard extension is loosened, the finish protected from steam and the whole procedure done quickly, would focus the heat/moisture to only the intended joints. Thoughts?

    1. I have thought about the possibility of heat creep into other joints, but it hasn’t been an issue in about 25 neck pulls. Iv’e only pulled one with these custom heaters. Normally I use the 1/8th inch heater at 280 degrees and most necks are loose in 15 minutes. I can tell you where it really shines is wide heel, cheek glued Gibsons and Guilds. I’m actually able to drill down into the neck block and deliver heat to the area past the end of the dovetail where steam will never get to. In the past I have actually steamed those long and hard enough to let the sides go from the neck block, so heat creep is actually an issue with steam as well. It is also an issue with white glue neck joints that are impervious to moisture.

      I have pulled a lot of necks with steam. When I was working at Gruhns, I saw 7 co-workers pulling necks with steam. No one is ever going to blush the finish again because of this that or the other thing and then they blush the finish again. The last pull that I did with steam went exactly according to plan. It was a 30’s Martin with the face of the tenon quite close to the face of the mortise leaving little room for the steam to collect and disperse throughout the joint. Of course the top of the heel let go immediately leaving me with a large area for steam to evacuate and a neck that I could barley manipulate for fear of breaking the heel. So there a stood for a couple of hours holding the guitar in different positions, gingerly steaming, wiggling and pushing on the neck. Bingo, neck comes out intact with 0 blush, I hit the end grain with a little retarder and set it aside for the night. The next morning I waltz into the shop feeling like the loother of the year, look at the neck and discover that it had blushed in my absence.

      The first time I used the cartridge heater was on a 40’s 000-28. I released the extension. I put the heater in the neck joint with a little water to attack the hide glue. I put it the guitar in the stew-mac neck pusher jig with a little tension on the heel. I set the heater at 280 degrees. I sat and had my lunch and by the time I was done the neck had released. I pulled the neck out and turned the guitar upside down so all the hide glue could dribble out and that was the clean up.

      Neck re-sets used to be a money maker, but standards have changed (i.e. invisible extension shims, perfect fitting dovetail shims replacing cut up business cards) and the average price of a neck set doesn’t yet reflect this. A blushed finish can take a job from a decent payday to a head wracking, money losing, shelf lurker. As of 25 neck pulls, it would have to take some real convincing for me to go back.

      Side note: In the video I talk about releasing the extension with the heaters. Disregard this, in retrospect it’s nonsense.

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