Workshop: Nasty Bridge Plate Fail

Updated: I added pictures of the finished job at the end.

This is an older Martin 0-18 with an entirely failed bridge plate/bridge area. The plate is split in half and the top looks like a quite-abused fault line. Fortunately the bracing is all in good health and the damaged area is confined directly to under the bridge.

Here you can see just how nuts that is! This must've been the result of a bridge pulled-up with tension on in the case for decades.

Here are the tools I'm using to fix this abuse. In this case I will be strong-arming it back into shape and securing the split bridge plate (which is miraculously still glued to the top, somehow) via a new ebony bridge plate (fairly thin) that will fit right over it. The block of wood next to it will be my clamping pad and the aluminum "top side" pad is borrowed from one of my StewMac bridge regluing jigs. It just happens to be quite strong and the right size.

Before I went ahead with this, I tested the area with some pressure to see if this solution would work without damaging the top. Sometimes a bit of heat and water is needed to bend stuff back into shape, but the wood was pliable enough to just clamp it, in this case. Fortunately the easy way out worked, this time.

That will set overnight and I'll be able to reinstall the original bridge in the morning and have it strumming by Saturday.

Update: Below are pics of the finished repair...

On Friday morning I took the clamps off and -- behold! -- a flat place to put my bridge.

Here I've marked-out where it's going and next I'll sand the surfaces, glue, and clamp it up.

Here's how she looked on Saturday afternoon.

All good!


Rob Gardner said…
Boy that is really a dramatic break, right across the grain of the top. Looks like a pretty good solution too. Fairly minimal. Hope the patient returns to health...
Jake Wildwood said…
Yeah, isn't that a wild break? It's a poster child for why you need to get your bridge reglued when it's coming up!!!