Jump to content

Pressing Frets - Drill Press?


MescaBug
 Share

Recommended Posts

Is it reliable to press frets with a drill press? Stewmac sells press cauls that can be attached to a drill press.

Also, how much fret wire should I buy for a 22 frets neck? Is 2 feet enough?

FYI, I'm doing a re-fret, not a new fret job.

Thanks,

David

Edited by MescaBug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The drill press works well and 2 feet is not enough, I would order at least 6 feet because you will have some overhang that you will cut off and maybe some extra for screw ups if it is your first attempt. Buying in bulk is the way to go if you plan on doing more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought the Stew Mac cauls & they work great. I also bought a neck support (you'll want some support) & a tube of fretwire, it is much cheaper to buy in bulk. Be aware though that the Stew Mac fretwire is straight so you'll need to radius it prior to installation, there's some tutorials on making a fret bender on these boards.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

depends what radius they are & what radius you're using on the board. They should ideally be a little tighter than the fingerboard so that when you press them in the barbs on the fret tang go into the slot & then get pushed along the slot a little...that should (unless I have this completely wrong?) help to prevent the fret from lifting up. at the ends.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't recommend using the Stew-Mac cauls or any fret press cauls in a drill press. The tables on some drill presses are not sturdy/strong enough to withstand the force needed to correctly seat the fret. I 'broke' the table on my drill press doing this, but if you have no other choice you can shove a few blocks of wood under the table to secure it. I'd highly recommend getting a <$30 arbor press to do the job properly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a my bench drill with a few blocks of wood under the table to stop that moving. It provides more than enough pressure to do the job, if you need to push to the point where you are breaking the drill then something is wrong with the frets or the slot - it really shouldnt take that much pressure to do the job properly!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't recommend using the Stew-Mac cauls or any fret press cauls in a drill press. The tables on some drill presses are not sturdy/strong enough to withstand the force needed to correctly seat the fret. I 'broke' the table on my drill press doing this, but if you have no other choice you can shove a few blocks of wood under the table to secure it. I'd highly recommend getting a <$30 arbor press to do the job properly.

Unfortunately I did the same thing.

Now I have a 1 ton arbor press that works better than the drillpress ever did (and I'm not worried about it breaking).

if you need to push to the point where you are breaking the drill then something is wrong with the frets or the slot - it really shouldnt take that much pressure to do the job properly!!

I wasn't pressing them in overly hard. It's just that some drillpresses have very weak tables. Mine is very old and it broke after the 10 or so neck I put through it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dont see how anyone could break the drill press table unless the table was a piece of total (well you know).

I have a floor standing delta 16 1/2 swing which I use to press fit the lower frets on a glued in neck and have never had any issues. I use the arbor press as much as I can but sometimes you just need more space at the lower frets.

Alot of fret wire is sold in rolls. You can straighten it over a curved block of wood or gently straighten it by hand. Generally you shoud start with a sligh overbow to the fret which helps push the barbs on the fret tang somewhat sideways, but its not critical on a new fretboard from my experience, Some people also use two caul sizes so they can seat the edges first then change to the fretboard radius caul for the final press.

Again I dont see how a drill press could not handle fret caul pressure. You put alot of force on the table just drilling a piece of metal. You also do not use 1 ton of pressure with a 1 ton arbor press. I say if you have a good drill press go for it, if your worried put a support under the table.

Woodenspoke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience is just 2 necks so far. I hammered the frets in on my first, I didnt have a 'feel' for it at the time so I didnt seat some enough and over-hammered some others. On neck #2 I got the Stew Mac 12 '' radius caul only and made a holder from hardwood. There is a satisfying 'crunk' sound that you hear when the fret is seated. I found the caul's perfect radius left small contact gaps at the fret ends, probably cause the frets were overbent. Like what was mentioned above I may get a 10'' radius caul and use both. I still had to tap in the ends to fully seat them, this was with my fret tangs cut back so that may be why the end stayed high. Still learning but Im happy to have both a fret hammer and caul to use. I think I'll put a support block underneath the press table just in case. -Vinny

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience is just 2 necks so far. I hammered the frets in on my first, I didnt have a 'feel' for it at the time so I didnt seat some enough and over-hammered some others. On neck #2 I got the Stew Mac 12 '' radius caul only and made a holder from hardwood. There is a satisfying 'crunk' sound that you hear when the fret is seated. I found the caul's perfect radius left small contact gaps at the fret ends, probably cause the frets were overbent. Like what was mentioned above I may get a 10'' radius caul and use both. I still had to tap in the ends to fully seat them, this was with my fret tangs cut back so that may be why the end stayed high. Still learning but Im happy to have both a fret hammer and caul to use. I think I'll put a support block underneath the press table just in case. -Vinny

Vinny you should check out the Erlewine fretting videos from Stumac a great reference on fretting /refretting with the cauls and without. You can rent the first two from Smartflix.com for $10 each, guaranteed to demystify fretting for ya. They are not copy protected DVD's.

Most of it is geared toward refretting (plus showing Stumac tools) but the basic techniques are the same.

No one uses a drill press in the videos and I dont endorse any of these companies or duplicating video content for personal reference.

Woodenspoke

Edited by Woodenspoke
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dont see how anyone could break the drill press table unless the table was a piece of total (well you know).

I have a floor standing delta 16 1/2 swing which I use to press fit the lower frets on a glued in neck and have never had any issues. I use the arbor press as much as I can but sometimes you just need more space at the lower frets.

With all due respect, of course you aren't having any trouble with a 16 1/2" Delta floor-standing press. A drill press like that can easily handle the job. But a lot of people are using inexpensive bench-top drill presses. Many of these have flimsy table construction. Another problem comes with putting too much stress on the bearings which can cause premature bearing failure or extra runout. Again, you shouldn't have any problem with a full-size press though.

For me, a $30 arbor press is a much better deal anyway. It does the best job and doesn't tie up my drill press. At that price, it's an easy choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With all due respect, of course you aren't having any trouble with a 16 1/2" Delta floor-standing press. A drill press like that can easily handle the job. But a lot of people are using inexpensive bench-top drill presses.

I am using a very cheap bench top drill press and i will say that, with some blocks of wood underneath the table to support it, it provides more than enough pressure to seat frets. . . I am starting to worry about how much pressure you guys think a fret needs!! Remember that people have been doing this with just a relatively small hammer for years.

Just for reference, i use the stew-mac fret-saw in there fret slotting jig and stew-mac fretwire, so i am fairly confident my fretslots are an appropriate size for the fretwire and i have inlaid plenty of ebony and ziracote (very hard woods) without problems!!

The way i see it, yes you can get an arbor press for very little money, and if doing a lot then its worth having the extra tool - but if you are new to this or on a budget you will get alot more use out of a drill press so that has to be first on the wish list and the fact it is percfectly fine for fret jobs and saves you spending $30 on an arbor press is a bonus

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, there's a huge difference between 'not seeing' how something can happen (opinion, never experienced it) and having something actually happen (fact, experienced by more than one person). The bottom line is using your drill press to seat press is not the 'right' way to do it. Will it work? Yes, for a few fret jobs. When you've pressed in over 400 frets, it DOES take a toll on the table. It's not user error, it has nothing to do with the 'proper pressure', it's all about using the RIGHT tool for the job.

Sure, a few blocks of wood underneath the table will probaly prevent any problems, but why not just spring for a cheap arbor press? Instead of spending the money on the wood to prop the table, why not invest that into the right tool? :D

Chris

Edited by AlGeeEater
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, there's a huge difference between 'not seeing' how something can happen (opinion, never experienced it) and having something actually happen (fact, experienced by more than one person). The bottom line is using your drill press to seat press is not the 'right' way to do it. Will it work? Yes, for a few fret jobs. When you've pressed in over 400 frets, it DOES take a toll on the table. It's not user error, it has nothing to do with the 'proper pressure', it's all about using the RIGHT tool for the job.

Sure, a few blocks of wood underneath the table will probaly prevent any problems, but why not just spring for a cheap arbor press? Instead of spending the money on the wood to prop the table, why not invest that into the right tool? :D

Chris

+1

I used the exact pressure needed to press the frets in, no more, no less. I know what I'm doing in regard to fretting and I know how to use my tools. Saying that I am using the tool wrong or that I don't understand the pressures needed to insert the fret is doing nothing more than insulting my intelligence. The tool failed, it was not user error. It's as simple as that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, there's a huge difference between 'not seeing' how something can happen (opinion, never experienced it) and having something actually happen (fact, experienced by more than one person). The bottom line is using your drill press to seat press is not the 'right' way to do it. Will it work? Yes, for a few fret jobs. When you've pressed in over 400 frets, it DOES take a toll on the table. It's not user error, it has nothing to do with the 'proper pressure', it's all about using the RIGHT tool for the job.

Sure, a few blocks of wood underneath the table will probaly prevent any problems, but why not just spring for a cheap arbor press? Instead of spending the money on the wood to prop the table, why not invest that into the right tool? :D

Chris

+1

I used the exact pressure needed to press the frets in, no more, no less. I know what I'm doing in regard to fretting and I know how to use my tools. Saying that I am using the tool wrong or that I don't understand the pressures needed to insert the fret is doing nothing more than insulting my intelligence. The tool failed, it was not user error. It's as simple as that.

I'm an amateur guitar builder and I don't plan on building tons of guitars. I've used my 10" Delta dril press for fretting and it worked fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm an amateur guitar builder and I don't plan on building tons of guitars. I've used my 10" Delta dril press for fretting and it worked fine.

Dude, are you serious? :D

Let me reiterate the whole point to you. I don't recall anybody ever saying that for an amatuer guitar builder, using a drill press to seat frets WON'T work. It's actually a very budget conscious method. You're killing two birds with one machine here. I know the table on my drill press used to 'give' a little bit before the fret was properly seated. Do that 400+ times and something is bound to go wrong. For the guy who's going to build a whole bunch of guitars though, it's not very budget conscious to go out and buy two $120 drill presses because he broke the other one when he could have spent $150 to get the job done right. :D

I also don't see why any form of a 'professional' would want to tie up his drill press for that either way.

Chris

Edited by AlGeeEater
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aww, come on Chris. $3 is more than enough to get a board of pine that you can cut into many pieces to fully support the table of a drill press for the force that is needed to press frets in. It can be argued that arbors are cheap, but why spend the extra money if you're on a budget or limited to extra space like most of us are?

Also, I don't see how there is any tying up when using a drill press without owning an arbor press. You'll have to change out your bits (or caul in this case) regardless of what you're doing. I spent more on my drill press because I knew I was going to be doing lots with it to replace another tool or three. Using the drum attachment replaces the need for a oscillating sander, although applying too much lateral force to a drill press is not a wise thing to do, it gets the job more than done for those hard to reach areas. Using a Safe-T plane is great for thicknessing headstocks and making your own radius blocks. Not to mention using the drill press to press frets. A drill press is one of the most versatile tools I own, if not the most. Use it within the correct boundries and you can accomplish a great deal with it. "Take care of your tools and they will take care of you".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This kinda folds into the milling thread the other day. I guess the main thing is to stop buying cheap ass drillpresses if you can avoid it. I know not everyine has the space or bankroll to buy big. But dont expect it to stand up to the abuse that a floor model will. There has to be a distinguishing point when you refer to a drill press on this forum. Say bench or floor model to stop these arguments.

I agree an arbor press is better than a benchtop drillpress for this operation. But....If you have a floor model drill press then this is a non issue. I have a 1ton arbor press but I prefer the old beat up drill press because it allows the caul to autocenter itself.

Bottom line. Bench top drillpresses are no more than a glorified cordless drill so keep that in mind when using it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know what I'm doing in regard to fretting and I know how to use my tools. Saying that I am using the tool wrong or that I don't understand the pressures needed to insert the fret is doing nothing more than insulting my intelligence. The tool failed, it was not user error. It's as simple as that.

you dont need to take it so personally - dont get insulted by a difference of opinion, there's really no need

We all know exactly what the right tool is for the job is, thats why an arbour press is on my wishlist for this job.

But i have done over 30 fretjobs in new boards and about 15 + re-frets, all with the same cheap-ass drill press i started with - the way i see it i am getting close to having done a 1000 frets on that shitty little thing. After the very first fret i realised it was a bit too flexible and stuffed some wood under the table - no problems since.

It doesnt tie up my drill press too badly because in reality i can only do one thing at a time, i suppose i am flawed like that :D

I think i have enough experience with this to say, with precautions and a bit of common sense, even a basic drill press will do the job well.

I will also say that i am very proud of my fretwork and i am developing a good reputation for it around here!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To repeat my position; I use an arbor press for most of my work. When the instrument is too wide to use the arbor press, than I use my drill press and the cauls. I prefer not to hammer in frets except on an acoustic. and then only on the lower frets. I find using the Stumac Cauls a lot easier, and gives a higher quality fret job with less leveling.

It will ruin your bearing and cause runout???? Nonsense

You are applying downward force pressing in frets; you are not exerting laterial pressure. You would only exert lateral pressure on the bearings using a Wagner safety planer as an example. Ruining your bearings pressing in frets is utter nonsense. I have refurbed many old drill presses so I am familiar with its construction. If this theory is based on only using a cheap drill press than it is unfounded. Of course I have never owned a cheap drill press so I have no idea how badly the thing is made. I would assume if you can ruin a bearing applying downward force than the thing would be useless as a drill press.

As far as tables go If you can support a weak one than go for it just make sure the support is tight without any play and use the biggest block you can find and place it directly under the point of force. Hopefully its flat under the table casting.

Woodenspoke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...