The Peghead (click image to enlarge)

stock peghead

Here is the wicked ugly factory peghead which caused me to start this whole project.  Ack.


Here is paper pattern I used.  It is based on the classic Vega peghead.  Use anything you like.  There is plenty of wood to work with.  I made it by finding a good head-on photo of the peghead I liked.  Then, I converted it to an outline with my photo editor and resized the image as necessary to fit.   It helps if you can get the tuner holes on the pattern to match those on the actual peghead.  This one is blue for no reason except it is easy to see when you are cutting.  The vertical red line is the centerline, which will coincide with the centerline drawn on the actual peghead.

pattern on peg

Print out the pattern and cut it out. Glue it on the peghead as shown, being sure to line up the centerlines.  If you've done it right so far, the pattern will not overhang the peghead anywhere. I use Elmer's glue - it gives me a little time to get the alignment right.

plugs close

Now, it is time to make the plugs that will be used to fill the old tuner holes.  On the first one of these I did, the pattern lined up with the lower peg holes (i.e., for the 1st and 4th string tuners), so I only had to plug the upper two.  This peghead has the tuner holes drilled in different places.  I stuck with the same pattern, which required plugging all four factory tuner holes.

screw holes

I use a 3/8" plug cutter on an ordinary drill press.  As you can see, there is plenty of material in the stock peghead.  The plugs come out tapered, so I use a reamer to enlarge and taper the old tuner holes.  Put some glue on the plug and tap it in.  I used Titebond II here.  Plug the screw holes, too.  I used a pencil sharpener to sharpen some small dowel stock.


The tuners I planned to use are designed for a peghead that is 1/2" thick.  However, the Goodtime peghead is a hefty 5/8" thick.  I thinned it down to just under 1/2" (leaving a little space for the peghead overlay) using an interesting tool called a Safe-T-Planer. It is a flat disc about 3" across with cutters on the edge.  It mounts in a drill press, making a sort of planer (more on this tool in the Neck section).

rough out

The first pattern I printed out got torn up while cutting plugs.  I printed another one (in black & white). Now, remove most of the excess material.  I just used a hacksaw but slick persons could use a band saw (I don't have one).  Now, we're finally ready to reshape the peghead into a thing of beauty.

cutting rig

Here is my whiz-bang high tech peghead cutting rig. We'll be cutting a "beveled" peghead, meaning the cuts are perpendicular to the fingerboard, so I use various containers (of blocks of wood, foam, most anything) of the appropriate height taped to the neck.  At the action end is an ordinary Dremel tool in one of their neat little drill presses.  You just move the neck to the cutting tool.

cutting underway

We're finally underway.  Here, I'm using a Dremel cutter designed for drywall.  I like it because it is not troubled by rock maple. You must move the tool up and down as you go around the pattern.  Leave about 1/16" of wood all around (a slick person would use a scroll saw, but I don't have one of those, either).

sanding drum

Now, switch to the sanding drums, first coarse grit, then fine grit.  You can cut right to the pattern edge now, except in the concave parts.  Those are cut to final shape with files.  Some may think this is a silly way to cut pegheads.  It can be slow and a little tedious.  However, it is hard to make a make a mistake bad enough to ruin the neck.


Before final shaping, I added the peghead overlay (you could do this step earlier, right after thinning; your choice).  I acquired a bunch of Macassar ebony veneer inexpensively, so I laminated 3 sheets to make this overlay.  Clamp this well while it dries.

trim veneer

Now, just trim the overlay down.  I used my trusty Dremel again.  All you have to do now is drill out the tuner holes and the peghead is ready for final finishing with files, sanding stick, and sandpaper.  There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Moving On To The Rest Of The Neck