A clearance notch saw is a very easy tool to make in the shop, and it will save you money over a store bought tool. This tool is used to cut small notches in the bridge, allowing the strings to come through the bridge pin holes at a steeper angle. A steeper angle over the saddle means more torque, and more torque means more sound.
Clearance Notch Saw
Making a clearance notch saw is a very straight forward process that I explain in my book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs. I also explain over 50 other jigs and tools that can be made in the shop. With over 500 pages and 1600 images, this book explains many guitar making processes. From finishing, to construction theory, and everything in between.
Most woodworkers have several tools, and the accessories for those tools already in the shop. For this clearance notch saw, you will need a blade from a scroll saw. Also, a dowel rod that is 3/8″ to 1/2″ in diameter to use for the handle.
First, cut the dowel down to around 6″ long. Then, cut it open down the middle, creating two halves. If the scroll saw blade has pins at the ends, they will need to be cut off. On one end, cut off the pins right near their location. At the other, cut off enough metal so that the teeth come right to the end.
A clearance notch saw helps the guitar sound better. It allows the strings to break over the saddle at a steeper angle. This puts more torque on the top.
Apply epoxy to the insides of both surfaces of the dowel halves. Then, place the blade with about an inch to an inch and a half protruding from the top. Place the second half of the dowel over the first, and wrap the entire thing with masking tape or electrical tape. Allow the piece to cure completely, which is typically 12-24 hours for epoxy.
At this point, the tool can be used right away, however, it can also be prettied up a bit. This is completely optional, but the tape can be removed, and the dowel filled, sanded, and finished. It is not necessary for the tool to function, but it can give it a nicer look.
If you have any questions on making a string clearance notch saw, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
For more about acoustic guitar making, take a look at these other tools and jigs:
Fretboard Slotting Jig (Make exact copies of any fretboard without measuring)
Fret Bending Jig (Easily bend straight fret wire with scraps from the shop)
Carpeted Work Board (After all that hard work, why let the hard bench ruin the finish)
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