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Fret Tang Nipper


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For my second (and third) builds I plan to bind the fingerboards with maple.

I see the obvious need to clip the tangs at the ends of the frets, but how was this done before SMD came up with the Nipper tool ??

Do I REALLY need to buy this $43 thing ?? How do YOU do it ??

Thanks !!!

Edited by Blackdog
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Honestly, I just went through the same problem and ended up buying one and I will say I am glad I did because for fun I tried doing it with other tools and there was no way I would have wanted to nip both sides of all 24 frets with side cutters, besides I could never get the tang completely off with any other tools. So, I say get one its well worth it, surprisingly, at least it is for me, its a specialized tool and does its purpose well. Just make sure if you buy one that you buy the proper size as there are two. I think one is for over .100 width and the other is under that. I had some .104 and some .097 wire and in cutting the .097 I had some issues getting it to work well because the wire just wasn't wide enough to get a good cut, the .104 worked flawlessly. I think that says something about it precision. Also, in using other tools you are much more likely to bend your wire to all hell trying to get it to cut properly at the tang and even if you do, you'll probably spend a great deal of time filing and sanding to get the tang nub off, otherwise your wire will never seat properly. I'm sure there are people here that have other methods, but I haven't really come across any method that seemed worth that $43 investment, but thats just me.

Anyhow, just my personal view. I thought the exact same thing as both you and while ordering I said screw it, might as well save myself some trouble and after trying it and everything, I realized that I wouldn't have been able to do it without that tool. Its well worth it for me. I believe someone on ebay sells a similar device for slightly less, but for the price difference I just felt more comfortable with buying stewmacs tang nipper. Either way best of luck and I hope it all works out for you. J

Edited by jmrentis
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Check out nibbler to tang nipper thread . I have done the mod demonstrated to a nibbler and initial experiments with it look promising, however in another thread Phil notes that his didn't keep working well for long.

Much cheaper than the Stewmac version - especially if you have to add postage to Oz.

Cheers,

Brian.

Edited by brian d
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I´m building my first Les Paul and Ì´m in the same situation as you. And I too don´t want to buy tang nippers. I think that basic side cutters and file will do the job.

The answer is YES. Just buy it and be done with it. It a great investment, even for non bound fretboards where the fret tang can be cut slightly short of the fretboards. $43.00 is not a lot of money in the grand shem of things

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no, but its a LOT easier than using a dremel like I did. 2 minutes per fret equals about 50 minutes of fret tang cutting.

Thank you guys for all the feedback.

So this is one of the things that is actually good to have. I'll have to get it then.... Is not that I didn't want to spend the $, it's only that I don't want to buy somthing if it is close to unnecessary.

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no, but its a LOT easier than using a dremel like I did. 2 minutes per fret equals about 50 minutes of fret tang cutting.

+1 I say just get it. I did a few guitars with my dremel at 50 minutes+ per guitar. Than I got the tang nipper and it takes more like 5 minutes. Very much worth the price.

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no you don't need it.

I've done a couple of acoustics with fb bindings using just the fret cutter.

I cut each fret to size, then make 2 cuts with the fret cutter, one paralel to the fret, one perpedicular, at each fret end, then i place the fret upside down on a piece of wood, and use a file to quickly remove the rest of the fret tang.

worked like a charm.

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I have not worked with bindings of any kind, so this is just speculation, but......doesn't this depend on how you want to do the binding? If you want the frets to end before the binding so only the binding shows on the sides then you would need to cut the tang off of the ends. But, what if you don't mind the fret ends showing on the side of the fingerboard (which may only work with wood binding)? Can't you slot the binding the same as the fingerboard and just have the frets go to the end? The frets would show on the side, so this may not be the most aesthetically pleasing idea, but wouldn't that work? I hope that made sense... :D

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I have not worked with bindings of any kind, so this is just speculation, but......doesn't this depend on how you want to do the binding? If you want the frets to end before the binding so only the binding shows on the sides then you would need to cut the tang off of the ends. But, what if you don't mind the fret ends showing on the side of the fingerboard (which may only work with wood binding)? Can't you slot the binding the same as the fingerboard and just have the frets go to the end? The frets would show on the side, so this may not be the most aesthetically pleasing idea, but wouldn't that work? I hope that made sense... :D

You can indeed do that. But in my opinion it just looks plain UGLY.

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I use mine on every single board, bound or not.

Ditto--that is, I prefer unbound fretboards with nipped tangs. It just makes dressing the end that much easier, and it looks better too.

I've found that you can use all kinds of different tools and approaches to building the rest of the guitar. But fretting really wants its own tools. Over the lifetime of building, the cost of tools becomes negligible.

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Thanks so much for the feedback.

So the consensus is that I should have one of these.

Now an additional question. I have found This One on ebay.

The price difference is unimportant, but this one seems to work on all the usual wire sizes (for guitar), while the SMD comes in two versions.

Any experience with these ?? Should I stick with the SMD one ??

Thanks again.

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As I started to mention in my original post, one of the reasons I purchased te Stewmac one was the idea of precision it had. The reason it has two versions is to allow for a much better cut. And trust me when I say there is a definite difference in having the correct size. The idea is the wire sits sideways, so if the notch is too deep or too shallow then you no longer get a 90 degree angle cut or the support to get that quality cut. As I also said I bought the bigger version for wire over .100 in width I believe, in testing I tried cutting both some .104 and some .097. The .104 cut great, but the .097 was more difficult to get quality clean cuts that would not require clean up, it was possible, but difficult and a pain. Thats precision in my eyes, .003 off the minimum thickness and I notcied the difference right away. Thats why I bought the Stewmac version because I doubt the other varieties are anywhere near that precise and I think in time will become a problem because once that blades dulls slightly those off angled cuts will become more difficult to do and you will be much more likely to bend the wire and it won't be as clean a cut. ANyhow, thats just my opinion and why I said I felt more comfortable with the STewmac version. I think Perry says something to this effect in one of the threads listed, about not being able to get a good precise notch like Stewmacs without a good milling machine and even then one notch won't cover all your sizes of wire, just no way around that really. Best of luck to you. J

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While I'll never argue the usefulness of those tools, couldn't you find the same thing at your local hardware store?

I don't know why, but I seem to remember seeing those fret cutters in the tiling section.

Edit: I did see them! (sorry about the Canadian links)

Fret pullers

Fret cutters

I saw those fret nippers somewhere, I'll post them when I find the link again.

Forgetting about the money that you save, wouldn't it be a lot better to guy buy them directly and save shipping time?

Edited by Gillactus
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I fixed your links so they'll work.

And yes, most of the fretting tools seem to be nothing more than existing tools that have been modified --the fret pullers, for example, require the edges to be milled, but otherwise are the same tool.

I use plain cutters, but like Wes, I use the fret tang nippers first, then cut the fret to size, makes it a lot easier and keeps it from twisting.

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I use mine to nip the tang before I cut the fret to length...It keeps the ends from getting deformed.

Great idea! Thanks. I love good ideas. You know they're good ideas because your ego always steps in and says why didn't I think of that? Then, oh well I would have really soon, I know it! J

Edited by jmrentis
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And yes, most of the fretting tools seem to be nothing more than existing tools that have been modified --the fret pullers, for example, require the edges to be milled, but otherwise are the same tool.

The stewmac pullers are likely heat treated. If you were to mill a set of pullers to be flush pullers like stewmac's version, you would need to have them heat treated to retain the ground edge on the jaws.

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