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Fretboard Removal / Repair


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I have a maple cap fretboard that has separated from the neck just from the tension caused by tuning the guitar.

I want to remove the entire fretboard and re-set it.

What's the best way to do this?

I'm afraid steam or solvents may warp the neck and make matters worse.

Any suggestions?

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Are you wanting to use the same fretboard again or replace it?

If you want to use the same one again, I don't know of any other way than heat/steam.

But someone else may know of a better way.

Yeah .. I'd like to re-use the fretboard.

If steam/heat won't warp the wood, then how do you suggest I go about it?

Are there "special tools" for this?

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I don't think that large amounts if any of steam are needed.

Actually I remember hearing that you can take an iron and put it on medium heat and place it on the fretboard with a tshirt between the iron and the frets.

Start at the heel end and warm the wood up.

Don't use the actual steam function of the iron though.

I believe you can use a puddy knife to wedge between the fretboard and the neck.

Take your time and go slow.

If you already have a section which has seperated, I would start there.

If anyone else knows a better way or more detail, please correct me.

Also see http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/removal.htm

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I don't think that large amounts if any of steam are needed.

Actually I remember hearing that you can take an iron and put it on medium heat and place it on the fretboard with a tshirt between the iron and the frets.

Start at the heel end and warm the wood up.

Don't use the actual steam function of the iron though.

I believe you can use a puddy knife to wedge between the fretboard and the neck.

Take your time and go slow.

If you already have a section which has seperated, I would start there.

If anyone else knows a better way or more detail, please correct me.

Also see http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/removal.htm

Great tip.

Thanks for the help. :D

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I wish they'd update that tutorial.

You do NOT need steam to remove the neck. Using steam this way makes no sense at all.

You do need heat though, but that's much less aggressive on the fingerboard and I've experienced no warping

problems. And it takes just as long/short of a time (about 10 minutes).

The most important thing is the tool you use -- I took a putty knife and thinned the entire blade (using a metal file and a whetstone) to where it's thinner than a cutter blade. The tip is as thin as or thinner than a razor blade.

The trick is to get the BLADE hot --that's what cuts through the glue joint after all. Start at the heel.

In fact, I bet you don't even need to heat the fingerboard -- but you'd have to make sure the blade remains superhot the entire time. I imagine if you could rig up a solder iron to provide constant contact, that would do the trick. I imagine doing it this way will take much longer --but a little bit of patience goes a long way.

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I'm not sure I agree 100% with you comments. Heating the blade is a good idea. Superheating the blade is a bad idea. First, you don't want to burn the wood, second, you don't want to cook the glue.

And not heating the fingerboard is not a very good idea either. If you heat the blade only, you get the blade in, and 5 seconds later, it's already cold. The fingerboard will drop down, and re-glue itself while you're re-heating the blade. You also have to take the blade out very often, which is a long process, and there is more chance is damaging the fingerboard/neck.

Here is what I do to remove a board:

- I heat the entire board for a good 10 min with an iron until it is very hot. I never use the hottest setting on the iron; just enough so you can touch it for a few seconds without burning yourself.

- To check if the glue is melted, I apply some pressure on the board. If glue comes out from the side, it's ready. If not, maybe it's not melted enough.

Remember; the softer the glue is, easier it will be.

- I then use a thin metal line (sorry about my bad english. I don't know how to call that..), carefully push it under the board, and pull it all the way under the fingerboard 'til I get to the nut area.

- Or I use a very thin blade and slowly push it under the fingerboard.

The trick with the metal line, is that it doesn't apply upward pressure on the board. So it doesn't warp, and you can still use it.

No need to use steam. There is no way the steam can get to the glue anyway. Heat is not that bad against wood, but steam is. If you want to re-use that board, make sure you clamp it between 2 straightedges while it's cooling off. That minimizes the chance of warping. Because it will warp if you use a blade and apply upward pressure on the board to take it off.

Edited by MescaBug
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I'm not sure I agree 100% with you comments. Heating the blade is a good idea. Superheating the blade is a bad idea. First, you don't want to burn the wood, second, you don't want to cook the glue.

I don't mean red hot, just as hot as the iron :D

Anyway, I'm not patient enough for doing just the hot blade, I use the iron (no steam) on the fingerboard with no issues. On the other hand, I had a problem with a couple of the black dots becoming discolored from the heat on a maple fretboard.

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I'm not sure I agree 100% with you comments. Heating the blade is a good idea. Superheating the blade is a bad idea. First, you don't want to burn the wood, second, you don't want to cook the glue.

And not heating the fingerboard is not a very good idea either. If you heat the blade only, you get the blade in, and 5 seconds later, it's already cold. The fingerboard will drop down, and re-glue itself while you're re-heating the blade. You also have to take the blade out very often, which is a long process, and there is more chance is damaging the fingerboard/neck.

Here is what I do to remove a board:

- I heat it for a good 10 min with an iron until it is very hot.

- To check if the glue is melted, I apply some pressure on the board. If glue comes out from the side, it's ready. If not, maybe it's not melted enough.

Remember; the softer the glue is, easier it will be.

- I then use a very thin blade and slowly push it under the fingerboard.

No need to use steam. There is no way the steam can get to the glue anyway. Heat is not that bad against wood, but steam is. If you want to re-use that board, make sure you clamp it between 2 straightedges while it's cooling off. That minimizes the chance of warping. Because it will warp. You apply an upward pressure on the board to take it off.

WoW ... Great stuff guys.

I sorta figured that steam wasn't a good idea and I honestly don't see the advantage.

As MescaBug pointed out ... it's not like the steam will penetrate the wood.

And if it does, I think you'll end up with a whole lot more problems.

Thanks for all the replies.

You guys have been a huge help. :D

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