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SGFanboy42

Sanding Beam Alternatives?

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So I am currently getting ready to do my first kit build and I know most likely that there will be some fret leveling needed. Could a large, straight metal file be used instead of a sanding beam to level the frets? I haven't seen many good quality sanding beams and the few I can find are very expensive.

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no expert here but honestly i think a decent level will do the trick.  just has to be straight.  in my humble O there are so many things that can make more of a difference than a .0001 accurate beam... for instance when you polish your frets after spending the time to level them with a super accurate beam... you probably do more damage then you would do by using a beam that isn't quite as accurate.  furthermore, playing the guitar instantly wears down the frets.  unless you are gonna level them every month I don't think it will matter.

I play with my action super low... literally laying on the frets, so I guess I would know pretty quick if my frets were less level due to using a $25 level... hasn't bothered me yet.  my advice would be to buy a decent level and some 3m spray glue and some belt sander belts.  or as some here have done, buy some angle iron and do the sm. 

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Anything that is straight, that you can stick sand paper to will work as a sanding beam. I used a spirit level as a sanding beam on my first build. I also used it to bevel fret ends.

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Files can and are being used. There's a couple of things to take into consideration with those. First, as you said, it should be straight. They often are twisted but they're surprisingly flexible and can be straightened to some extent. But of course you'd want to get one that can't be used as a cork screw! The second thing is that all flat files have a slight bow. For flet leveling you'll have to use the rocking side. Cutting the spike off and rounding the ends to a sled and then gluing the concave side on a straight wooden block is how Crimson and StewMac build theirs. Also note that it should be a single cut file for that purpose, not to forget to check how coarse it is.

Re leveling beams, they too are utterly mystified. Mostly they're made of aluminium and what do you know!? The very same material is being used for building lightweight wall frames in e.g. toilets!  So simply find your local metal dealer and buy any length and width of such rectangular tube you think you'll need. When I did that, the cutting was more expensive than the price per metre so I made a deal of cutting half a dozen of 2x4 cm, 28 cm long ones for a tenner, selling the rest to my fellow builders. The length was chosen according to the longer side of a sheet of wet'n'dry paper which I attach using masking tape and super glue. At a local store I noticed that they also sell some 60 cm long self adhesive sanding paper strips so a longer beam without seams would be no issue.

The most important trick to do with self made beams is to straighten them. Find a perfectly flat surface, lay or rather attach with masking tape and super glue a long piece of 320 grit paper (or several grits) and run the beam over it until it's flat. That's how they do it at the places mentioned above.

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