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On A Maple Board Refret, Spray Finish Before Or After Installing Frets


Mind Riot
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I may be refretting one of my maple fretboard guitars in the near future and reradiusing it to a flatter radius so I'll need to refinish it. I've read that most makers install the frets and then spray over the entire neck, frets and all, then the finish on the frets is removed when they're leveled and dressed.

But I also saw one webpage of a small builder who installs frets over the finish.

I'm just wondering if there's any practical reason to choose one over the other on a refret. It seems like spraying the board after it's been prepped but before installing the frets would remove the extra step of having to scrape or sand the finish off the fretwire, but I don't know if there's other factors that come into play here.

Thoughts?

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Finish before frets looks nicer. Some big makers have done it that way, such as Ibanez.

The worst part about it is rounding the fret ends without screwing up the finish. Of course you are using a file with safe edges, but it's still a hard piece of metal that can make marks.

Now, if you want to use super-glue on the frets, that can cause quite a mess on a pre-finished board. Even wicking the CA from the ends of the slot is not always safe. Sometimes it creeps up onto the fret-board. I developed a technique that prevents that. Look for it on my fretting DVD which will never come to be. Haha.

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Ah yes, those were some things I hadn't considered, particularly the beveling of the fret ends. That could really end up being a problem that would require some touch up work. Seems it might be safer for an amateur like me to spray after installing the frets and just deal with getting the finish off the wire.

It was kind of a pain the last time I did it, which was why I asked. Took quite a bit of elbow grease and 0000 steel wool, but it's not so bad a price to pay if it makes the job come out better in the end.

Thanks for the info. :D

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Finish before frets looks nicer. Some big makers have done it that way, such as Ibanez.

The worst part about it is rounding the fret ends without screwing up the finish. Of course you are using a file with safe edges, but it's still a hard piece of metal that can make marks.

Now, if you want to use super-glue on the frets, that can cause quite a mess on a pre-finished board. Even wicking the CA from the ends of the slot is not always safe. Sometimes it creeps up onto the fret-board. I developed a technique that prevents that. Look for it on my fretting DVD which will never come to be. Haha.

Yeah, but don't you run the risk of dealing with dealing with an uneven freboard if you wait to re-fret AFTER finishing? Or, do you go back and flatten the finish with a radius black, prior to fretting?

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I have had the best results with leveling the finish with the neck in the neck-jig with the same leveling beam that I level the wood with. What I mean by *best results* is that when it comes time to level the fret-tops, I only need to do a few passes with 600 grit and higher on the fret tops. Could probably get away with no fret leveling if medium or higher string height action was a sure thing.

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Here's what I do now.

Radius, slot and fret the board (off the neck when you're building from scratch); you might have to deepen the slots if you take too much off when you radius. After the frets are in, bevel the edges, ten tape off the board so only the frets are sticking up (NO wood showing). Now use a Q-tip and coat the frets with a thin layer of auto wax. Remove the tape, then spray away. Level & finish sand to ~600-1000 grit, then score the edges & ends of the frets with a razor blade, being careful to avoid scratching the finish. Tape off the wood again, tweek the rod to straightness and level the frets. The clear coat will flake right off the waxed frets as you level. Crown frets, then buff & polish the whole works.

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