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Jon Bell

Fretting Tools

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I'm preparing fret my first first fingerboard. I've got the board radiused, slotted and cut to the right size but I'm a bit unsure what tools I will needs for applying the frets.

The minimum required seems to be:

A small hammer: Could you use a regular hammer and protect the frets from damage by laying a piece of scrap wood over the frets and hitting that?

Fret cutter: I know there are special fret cutters but could you get away with normal wire cutters or will they not cut close enough? Is there a cheap, easily available tool that will do the job?

Fret files: Is there anything special about "fret files" or can you use normal files to finish the fret ends?

Oil stone: Can you use wet and dry paper or wire wool to level the frets instead?

Thanks,

Jon

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The hammer:

I have heard of people using a regular hammer but I use a plastic hammer (when not pressing them in) from Home Depot ($9.00).

Fret Cutter:

I have used the hardware store type and they do leave a bunch more metal as you mentioned. After battling through one neck, I decided to get the cutters that but closer to the end. I think you would be OK without them - as long as you are fine with the extra work to file the edges down.

Fret Files:

The only files that I have are for crowning. They are special and are expensive. I think you can get away with a normal file but you will have to be careful and will spend more time working on it.

Oil stone:

Don't have one. I used a precision straight edge with sand paper stuck to it. After that, sand paper on a stick for spot leveling.

If you don't mind the cost, the fret pressing cauls are really great. If not, practice hammering frets in, AND practice pulling them out (both on a scrap piece - preferably of the same type wood). I found that the practicing pulling them out helped me to understand exactly how big of a problem I have if I made a mistake - and developed a good technique just in case.

One more thing:

Examine the fret wire carefully before placing them in. I cut one and nicked it without noticing - then pressed it in nicely. Afterwards, I noticed the nick and had to pull it out. If I had paid more attention, the entire fretboard would have gone without any problems.

Good luck and have fun.

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I just thought of something else:

What are you going to use to pre-radius the fret wire? I think Brian has a tutorial on how to make a cheap tool for this. I blew my bank account buying stewmac tools on my first neck. I bought the fret wire radiusing tool for big $$. If I could go back, I would probably go with Brian's idea instead but I'm not dissapointed with the stewmac tool. It's very reliable and fast but probably not worth the money.

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hey fellas

i thank you both for asking and answering questions that i would have asked sometime in the future. :D

Cheerz!

Page.

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warmouth sells them radiused as well i beleive

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I went tool shopping today. I picked up a pair of wire cutters for £3 that are designed for cutting off the top of old nails and screws so they are flush. I had a try with them and they look like they should do the job for cuting fret ends.

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The only problem with buying a preradiused fretboard is that you will still have to use a radius sanding block to get the inlays level with the fretboard after inlays have been installed. That is unless you plan on bending the inlays in, which I've never tried myself.

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