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Glueing Fret Ends


mingus
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I did a search for this but couldn't find the answer i was looking for. I have jusat installed the frets on my first build and some of the ends are sitting a little proud from the fingerboard, they can be pushed down flush, but just pop back up again, so i guess the barbs have worn themselves a groove in the slot. I understand these could be glued down satisfactorily, but i'm not quite sure on the precedure. My questions are:

1) Where can i buy thin superglue in australia? (stewmac won't post dangerous good OS)

2) What is the best method of getting the glue into such a tight space?

3) How can i clamp the frets down while the glue dries? i don'e have a fret press or caul, just installed them with a hammer.

4) Am i completely on the worng track? Is there another method of fixing this i don't know about?

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You could cut a strip of wood maybe 1/4" thick and 1/4" wide long enough to span several frets. Place another flat board over it and the fingerboard and gently clamp. The flat board will press the 1/4" board down onto the fret end.

Thin glue may not be the best method, but that's just my opinion. I'd use a toothpick or glue syringe to pump a dab of glue into the end while the fret is popped up. Then clamp it down. You might want to remove as much of the squeezed out glue as possible while it's still wet. Hopefully you've sealed your fingerboard prior to putting your frets in. This will make extraneous glue easier to remove. CA will require a solvent like acetone to remove it so consider that in your choice of glues.

Disclaimer: I press my frets in so I don't get loose ends, so what I suggest above is only a suggestion or one possible way to make the repair.

-Doug

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You might try to PM Soapbarstrat. He is pro gluing frets and have good experience from this. He might be able to help you better than I. I have only done one glue in job so my experience really doesn't count.

BTW, Stewmac do ship CA oversea. I think they got the permission back after packing them in foil.

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Cauls for pressing down just the fret ends are the easiest to make. We're talking about a flat block with a rod at each end, over the fret ends. Of course you need the curved caul for the back of the neck and a clamp.

I don't like glue being the only thing holding down a piece of metal that wants to spring up, but it seems to work, but who knows for how long ?

I would get your clamp/caul set-up together, do a dry run, then when doing the real deal, run some CA accelerator into the fret-slot, clamp down, run water-thin CA in there.

Wax board first for ability to pop excess CA off board surface.

Main reason I use accelerator is because it's wood end grain, and the thin CA wants to seep into the wood farther than I want it to. The Accelerator helps keep that from happening. But I don't like the accelerator at full strength, so I let it dry a few minutes before adding the glue.

There's a lot of lousy super-glue out there, so try to find out which is a good one to buy in your area. Geez, I hope Aussie CA glue isn't as wierd as the freakin' Aussie oranges I bought at the grocery store.

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An old method of fretting involves fret slots that are too wide, and wood glue. The idea is to put glue in the slot then clamp the fret until the glue dries. Sounds like a big fat pain in the butt to me. It's works for many companies including Martin.

Thick glue should fill up the space around the tang, and plug up the end grain. This in itself should be enough to hold that fret for a good long while. Thin CA doesn't gap fill, that's why I would hesitate with that option.

-Doug

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Martin isn't the only one... I've seen it several times, and I have a 1930 Martin that only had a couple loose frets until recently. Held up quite well in my opinion.

Sounds like that thin CA worked for you in the past. Go with what works...

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*I* would probably pull the frets, and do whatever modifications to get a better fit, but then still use thin CA, since it's just part of my routine. But many swear by the CA keeping the popped fret ends down, and I don't want to get into too much detail of how *I* would do it, or else I'd feel like I'm typing out a whole script for a 'Fretmeisters Gone Wild' video.

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*I* would probably pull the frets, and do whatever modifications to get a better fit, but then still use thin CA, since it's just part of my routine. But many swear by the CA keeping the popped fret ends down, and I don't want to get into too much detail of how *I* would do it, or else I'd feel like I'm typing out a whole script for a 'Fretmeisters Gone Wild' video.

I'd love to be able to do that, but it would require a bunch of tools i don't have right now. If I can get them glued down for the moment, then in a couple of years time i'll either have the tools to do a refret, or the money to get someone else to do it for me.

Thenks for the comments regarding CA, clamping cauls to get the pressure at the fret end should do the trick. In regards to this:

run some CA accelerator into the fret-slot, clamp down, run water-thin CA in there

Do you meant to pout the CA in AFTER the clamp has been tightened? It seems like that would stop the glue netereing the space it need to be in. or does it help with "wicking" due to the smaller gap?

Thanks again

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Yeah, that's the nice thing about the thin CA, is you can wick it in from the end of the fret-slot (unless this is a bound board), and do it when the frets are already clamped down. It doesn't have to be done that way, but if you run CA in there while the fret is popped up, the glue might freeze the fret in place before you clamp it down.

That wouldn't be the end of the world. You could always heat the fret with a soldering iron and carefully pull it and saw dried glue out of the slot.

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Thanks for that, i'll give it a go.

carefully pull it and saw dried glue out of the slot.

This is exactly why i don't want to refret right now, i don't have fret pullers or a fret saw!

Well, that's the only proper way to fix the problem if you ask me (refret the springy frets)

Was your wire properly pre-radiused to a smaller radius than the fretboard before intalling the frets? When you hammered them in, did you start at the fret ends?

:D

Edited by guitar2005
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Was your wire properly pre-radiused to a smaller radius than the fretboard before intalling the frets? When you hammered them in, did you start at the fret ends?

Pre-radiused, yes, properly pre-radiused, no. I realised too late that my method for pre-bending wasn't doing the job evenly enough. I am actually doing 2 builds concurrently, and the second neck was much more successful. Live and learn i guess.

Lets say for a minute that i was going to pull the springy frets and start again, is it simply a matter of removing the frets, cleaning the slots and then installing the new fret so that the barbs miss the orininal locations, or would i need to get a fret fitter and saw from stewmac as well to do it properly?

Edited by mingus
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Doubt that "installing the new fret so that the barbs miss the original locations" is going to solve the problem, but you can try it. The barb expanding pliers is pretty ideal for this kind of thing. Can't say how well the store bought ones are. I made my own, which punches dots in the tang, which are a lot like the barbs, only bigger, depending on how hard I squeeze. the StewMac one crimps the whole tang from top to bottom.

For re-fret work, I do not like a full size saw for working on the existing fret-slots. The full size saws can cause the kind of problem you are having by only fitting well in the slot where the radius is highest, then on the ends, the blade isn't down in the slot enough, and it can move from side to side, causing it to widen the slot on the ends. So, I like really short little saw blades.

A good trick on slots that won't hold a fret is to run thin super glue into the bare slot, scrape out any excess, let dry. Now you've just hardened any spongy wood (and pretty much also hardened non-spongy wood). Might require running a saw blade into the slot, if the glue "sizing" did it's job too well.

Improving your method of bending a proper radius is the first step, if you are going to go beyond just tacking them down with glue.

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Thanks soapbar, i know i've got a lot to learn in this regard, getting the pre-bend correct would have got me most of the way in this case but if anything else had goe worn i'd have struggled anyway. I think for the moment i'll just glue them down and accept that it will need to be done properly sometime in the future. Hopefully by then i'll have the skills and tools required for the job.

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All this talk about glue and frets. I've rarely had to use glue on frets with the exception of fret ends, and thats just as a filler to smooth the edge of the board. But if you've got the proper sized fret slot and the fret has been slightly overbent, then they should stay where they are without the aid of glue. Unless you are using a soft fretboard wood. The whole idea of overbending is to minimize internal pressures from the spring in the steel. The radius might be smaller but there is little chance of the middle of the fret popping up because it would require dragging the fret ends sideways.

If I have a slot that is too big for the fret tangs to grip then I fill the entire slot by packing fingerboard dust and CA glue then recut the slot. But I don't rely on glue to hold the frets down. It can also be a pain to remove them when its time to refret. Getting it right the first time is the easiest route. :D

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