Jump to content

Entry for May 2019's Guitar Of The Month is now openĀ ENTER HERE!


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


How To Make A "fret Tang Removal Jig"

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone!

First of all, I did not think I would post this as a tutorial, so I did not take pics of the build in progress. However, it isfairly straight forward, so you should be able to figure it out.

This jig is very similar and is actually modeled after LMI's "Fret Tang Removal Tool", but as I do not have the money to spend over 100 dollars this device, I made my own. What I am making is a low-cost alternative (free for me).



-block of wood about 1 1/2" by 3/4" by 3" (I used two pieces glued together)

-two blocks of wood about 1 1/2" by 3/4" by 3/4"

-a large bolt about 3/8" diameter and 2 1/2" long

-a matching nut

-a BIC pen

-four small screws 1 1/2" long or longer with threads that are smaller that the inside diameter of the BIC pen outside tubing

-small nails


-some thin metal, preferably steel, or a popcan


-Drill and drill bits




-hot glue gun

Step 1: The body

To start off, take your larger block of wood and look at its largest face (1 1/2" by 3"), so the long side is facing up. Mark a point 1/4 of the way down from the top and in the center if the x dimension. Drill a hole all the way through here using a drill bit with the same radius as that of the crown of your fretwire (I used a 9/64" drill bit which fit my 6000 gauge(?) fretwire perfectly). We will call this hole 1

Now flip the block so you are looking at the second smallest face (3/4" by 3"), and drill a holein the very middle using a drill bit slightly larger than your bolt all the way down until it intersects the smaller hole perpendicularly. We will call this hole 2. Clean out the intersection point.

Step 2: The Metal Plate

If you are using a steel plate, skip this first paragraph. If you are using the popcan, read on. Take your popcan and cut it open so you have a large flat piece of aluminium. Fold it twice so it is at least 4 layers thick, and superglue the layers together. Cut out two pieces about 1" by 1 1/2".

If you are using a steel plate, cut out two pieces about 1" by 1 1/2".

Take a coping saw or other saw with a kerf very close to a fret tang width and make a small slit in each of the pieces of metal about 1/8" long. Reinforce the cut area with a little cyanoacrylate.

Step 3: The Rollers

Take your bic pen and rip off both ends with pliers so you are left with a long plastic tube. Cut it into four pieces one inch long.

Step 4: Assembly

Put your fret wire through hole 1 on the body so the tang is facing up. Slide the slit on one metal plate over the tang and superglue the plate so it hold the fretwire tight. Do the same with the other plate on the opposite side. Use your small nails to nail them in place.

Glue the nut around the bottom hole (hole 2) so the bolt can still be threaded through.

Predrill a hole in each of the small blocks of wood (some the screws can be put in) on one of the large faces close to the lower left hand corner on one block, and the lower right hand corner on the other. Put one plastic BIC tube around each of two screws, and thread them into the holes you predrilled. Glue the blocks of wood to the edges of the body so the rollers are parallel to the metal plate and not touching the body.

Now comes the hard part. You want to place the two horizontal rollers so that they will stop the file as it is finished wearing away the tang, but so it will not wear any farther. I basically just used guess and check for this part. Predrill two holes where you think the rollers should be located, put the plastic on the screw, screw it in, and check if it's in the right place. If it's not, fill the hole and try again.

Place hot glue gun blue on the end of the bolt, and thread it through the nut.


How It Works:

The fret wire is placed through hole 1 so the tang goes in the slit of the metal plate, and adjusted so the file will take out the right amount of material. Turn the bolt to clamp the fret in place. The hot glue gun glue prevents the bolt from marring the fretwire. Use the file to remove the tang until it is stopped by the rollers. You now have removed fret tang so it can fit over a binding!!!!

Crappy Pics:

the whole jig


the clamping mechanism



the hole that holds the fretwire

If you made it this far congratulations, and if you have any questions, just ask!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, That's What I based it off of.

I did an entire neck (24 stainless steel frets) with this jig, and it is very fast and easy to use. I did make one modification though.>>> I replaced the screwing/clamp mechanism with an irwin quick-grip, because the bolt is hard on your wrist after a while. Plus using the clamp would make the jig easier to make in the first place.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this. More clear pics would be nice, but I shouldn't complain since I can't take photos at all right now.

I wouldn't have thought someone on this forum would try to make that tool.

How are the plastic rollers holding up ? I mean, I'm wondering in the course of a fret-job if they get enough wear that you need to replace them or adjust them to compensate for wear. Can't tell if your rollers are adjustable or not.

I think Frank Ford got the idea for this tool at one of the factories (I saw a pic online some time ago). On that one I think they might have used steel ball-bearings for the rollers. I have taken old junked VCR's apart and obtained both steel ball-bearings and hard nylon/delrin (?) (or some kind of tough plastic) and I had figured quite a while back, I could probably use either in a project just like this.

You did a nice job, considering how 'low cost' you went with it (Man, you REALLY went low cost)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, sorry about the pics.

The two bottom rollers are holding up just fine because I only really touch them with the file when all of the tang is ground out.

The vertical rollers would have been fine but one got pushed against the wood, stopping it from turning so it got worn through before I noticed anything was wrong.... That's really just fine though because the vertical rollers really aren't all that useful in the first place, but nevertheless they are very easy to replace. All you need is another BIC pen...

My rollers are not adjustable but that make the jig much easier to make in the first place than the way I did it (guess and check). If you can think of a way to make them adjustable, be sure to post it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

On the LMI one, in the picture, it looks like the larger rollers are mounted to holes that are elongated or something. You can see part of the holes showing under the bolts. I just assumed it was made that way so you can adjust the rollers up and down to get them set just right.

Great point you made about the file not touching the rollers until the job is near the end. I hadn't even thought of that. I supposed for half the job, one could even wrap some tape over the ends of the file to help decrease wear a little more.

Have to give you some stars for this one.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

hmmm... yes.... I could see maybe doing a low cost version using two nuts on a bolt (lol) as a clamping mechanism. Then it would be adjustable and the roller could still spin.

Like this:

----......<that is the bolt

|......<that is the nuts, clamping a peice of wood with the elongated hole in it

//////.....<that is the roller


......../\ piece of wood with elongated hole goes here.

NOTE: the periods are there as spacers because the forum removes the spaces for some reason.

Also, for the slot that holds the fretwire in place, I was thinking of using some JB weld to form a cast around a piece of (waxed) fretwire, then pull the fretwire through before it cures so the barbs could still fit through. After it's fully cured, the fretwire could be removed, and the JB weld would have the perfect shape of the fretwire and hold it very well.

Hopefully I can try these ideas soon.

See how much fun you can have going super cheap? :D

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites