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Phil Mailloux

Powered Fret Slotting Jig

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I don't post much here these days. I did learn a whole bunch from this forum when I first started to hang out here a few years ago so here's something that might interest some of you guys.

This one's for people who don't own a table saw and think it's a major pain in the ass to slot frets by hand. :D

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So what's needed for this jig?

- 1 circular saw with 3/8" arbor

- 1 stewmac fret slotting saw blade

- 1 stewmac fret scale template (or LMI)

- scrap wood

The table is built with particle board I got for free at the local wood yard. It was cabinet maker leftovers. That piece was cut on a panel saw so all angles were straight/flush. The legs were also scrap I had lying around. I just cut them all the same length.

I glued and nailed the legs this way (click thumbnail)

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Next step was to cut two miter slots on both sides of the particle board. I used a 3/4" bit with with the router fence.

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I then took the circular saw and slotted a hole in the middle of the particle board for the fretting saw blade and

nailed the P board on top of the legs. It was surprisingly pretty strong for how crappy the legs look :D

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I took two scrap pieces of maple and cut them to fit the miter slots. I sanded and filed them until I could move them up and down the slots without any problems. After that I glued that long piece of wood to them inside the slots to make sure eveything was flush (I put cling wrap between the maple miter bars and the pb so the glue wouldn't stick the whole thing together)

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The next part was to fit the circulat saw under the table. I didn't want to cut any holes in the saw since it didn't have any extra holes or screw holes for jigs. So I opted to make wooden clamps. All I did was make 4 holes in the table slightly recessed for 4 bolts and nuts and stuck the saw under it. Clamped between two pieces of wood.

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I used a large set square to make sure the blade was flush. I just moved the saw from under the table until the blade was flush then tightened the nuts on the wooden clamps. That was it. I clamp the ON button to operate the jig since theres no way of keeping the motor running if you don't hold the button.

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On this pic I've got a piece of scrap waiting to be slotted. The way the jig works (like all table saw jigs) is to leave a small pin inside the fence that fits perfectly in the holes of the fret slotting template. Tape the template on top of the fingerboard blank with double tape. Hold the piece of wood on the two sides of the template with the fence pin resting inside the first hole on your fretting template and cut the first slot. For the next slot, move the piece to the next hole in the template and do that until all slots are cut.

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Here's what the scrap piece looks like once I'm done. Disregard the two crappy slots, they were done first without the template.

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BTW if I had to do it again, I'd use aluminium bars for the fence/miter slots. The maple has a tendency to bind on the sides on humid days :D

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Nice!

Very well explained and seems to work too! I'd build one of those, but I'm trying to scale down the use of power tools.

Less noise, cleaning and need of space.

But I'm sure someone else will find this useful.

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Phil,

Thanks for that - much better than "nice" IMHO - JUst one thing - don't quite understand where the pin comes in, but that's maybe because I don't own a template.

Thanks

Denis

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Phil,

Thanks for that - much better than "nice" IMHO - JUst one thing - don't quite understand where the pin comes in, but that's maybe because I don't own a template.

Thanks

Denis

It's an indexing pin.

Here is the the stewmac instructions on using the fret scale tempates. It's better explained than my explanations :D

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/I-4915.html

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Very nice, Phil. Thanks for sharing.

I had given up on a slotting jig due to the less-than-accurate nature of my cheapo Craftsman tablesaw. This concept solves that problem. :D

Mike

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Very informative and helpful!

I would personally use MDF for the miter slots (runners?) and seal it off with shellac or poly. Cheap and easy to do! Using metal would probably provide the best results though.

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Thanks for the nice words guys. I should note that this jig is being touted as enemy number 1 on the MIMF right now. They even added a "CAUTION!" in my original title. :D

So anyone willing to do this. Do make sure it's safe before you use it and make sure you don't cut anything more than 2 - 3 mm deep with it. I do think it wouldn't be safe to cut thick materials with it.

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Thanks for that Phil. You've pulled out a real ripsnorter. :D

It's without a doubt a brilliant idea and one I'm going to use/make in the future.

cheers, Stu

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Geez Phil...what were you thinking? :D Man they really raked your idea over the coals over there. For what it's worth I think its a great idea. Nice job.

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It is a great idea, but it's not the greatest idea to have something holding the power on. Easily solved though, just plug into a power strip and use the on/off switch to power the tool on and off. This is what I have to do with my table saw since my dad lost the on/off flipswitch a long time ago.

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Nice Phil, I already have my slotting rig, but I may have to build one just to live on the edge B) .

Cheap thrills and Danger :D

Rich

P.S. Footswitch is a darn handy tool :D

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I should note that this jig is being touted as enemy number 1 on the MIMF right now. They even added a "CAUTION!" in my original title. :D

I bet it would be a whole 'nother deal if Ellie Erickson or Bob Hammond would have posted the same thing.

Got to be part of the in-crowd if you want smoother sailing.

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I have a similar saw so I have the same problem with the on/off switch and no connecting holes. I like the way you clamp the saw to the table. It allows for some adjustment that you couldn't get bolting it on direct. I would recommend using wingnuts though for easier use.

I was actually planning on buying a new saw but I think I will try this jig instead. :D

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It looks like several people have made a tool like this using a circular saw.

I am trying to decide between making something like this or buying a belt drive table saw.

I have noticed a lot of runout (side to side) in inexpensive circular saws (which are used in these DIY tools).

Does this ever cause slots that are too wide?

The Stewmac website says that their blade is .023" wide.

It seems like just a little blade runout could be a problem.

Any info about this will help me make a decision.

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I'm surprised anyone has brought up this old thread of mine from the mothballs :D I've since changed the jig for a new setup using a Sliding Compound Mitre Saw. I had the Stewmac blade re-bored to fit the 30mm shank of my Metabo saw. The new setup is a lot nicer. The circular made a hell of a lot of noise it scared the living crap out of me. I would definitely recommend a table saw if you're looking into that, or a SCMS if you can afford a decent one that has vey little side play.

Here's mine slotting a fanned board. The template was made from MDF. The table has a long straight blade encrusted in it. The template pushes into it for each fret position and then you cut each fret slot this way. To slot normal frets just use a table with fence and an indexing pin in it for your normal templates.

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Thank you very much Phil. That saw looks real nice. Actually I already went ahead and bought a small benchtop table saw (Jet 708315BTC). It's $244 on amazon.com. I will make a jig (of some type) for it. The sliding miter saw might have been a better choice, come to think of it. Being able to hold the board stationary, and moving the saw on those nice linear bearings is probably the way to go. Oh well, either way should be a nice change from a hand saw. Thanks agan.

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