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Quickest/easiest Way To Remove A Fretboard


j. pierce
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First off, yes, I've seen the tutorial on the main site.

Here's the thing - I have a couple early builds that are sort of embarrassing, taking up room on my guitar rack. I've been thinking of things I could do with them, from turning them into slide guitars to making them pickup test beds, but there's really just no use for them any more. I don't want to give them away because then there's crappy guitars with my name on them floating around out there. Yeah, they sound decent and play fine, and I certainly don't have a reputation to worry about, but I just don't want them here, nor out there.

So I'm going to strip them of everything useful, (tuners, bridges, pickups, etc.) and either use the bodies for miscellaneous scrap wood uses or bring them to the wood recycling center in town. (Being my early builds, there's not much money in wood in these things.)

Between the guitar and bass, there's three useable LMI dual-action truss rods in those necks, however. That's almost 80 dollars in parts - enough that getting at them seems worthwhile, but not enough that spending forever removing a fretboard in the "proper" manner seems like an appealing concept. (I know, it seems weird I'm willing to chalk up the expense of building them to the learning curve, but not buy new rods.)

So given that I don't care about the condition of the neck or the fretboard, but I'd like to get the rods out intact and useful, what would you folks recommend for the easiest, safe way to get the rods out of there? The fretboards are glued on with Smith All Wood Epoxy.

I was thinking of pulling the frets, and taking a scrub plane to the fretboard until I was close to through and then seeing if I could cut into the channel with a hobby knife, or crack the last bit open by turning the truss rod.

On the board with pearl dots, I figure I'd take a dremel sanding drum or something to the dots first, because I'm sure my plane's blade wouldn't like hitting those.

Or maybe just removing material like that would speed up the ability to loosen the glue bond with heat, with less material between the heat source and the glue?

Any ideas?

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If you really don't care about the wood, you could just take a reciprocating saw along the joint (careful not to knick the truss rods). You'd be done in all of 30 seconds.

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I wouldn't bother with trying to cut or plane it off. Too much risk of hitting the truss rod. The steam/iron method is actually pretty fast. I removed a fretboard last week, and it really was easy.

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Sounds like heat it is. I was under the impression that that method was more involved/took longer than people are saying here. Certainly if I'm not too worried about doing it nicely, that should speed things up.

I guess I'll tackle things that way. Not going to worry about this until I get the two I'm working on wrapped up, though.

Thanks guys.

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Sounds like heat it is. I was under the impression that that method was more involved/took longer than people are saying here. Certainly if I'm not too worried about doing it nicely, that should speed things up.

I guess I'll tackle things that way. Not going to worry about this until I get the two I'm working on wrapped up, though.

Thanks guys.

You don't need steam just a hot iron will do it just as fast.

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nothing will happen for a few minutes - but once it starts going.. it goes quite fast. Its not very involved at all really and no specialist tools are needed other than an iron and something thin and flat thats made of metal - - i think i used a cheap steel ruler the first time i did one

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nothing will happen for a few minutes - but once it starts going.. it goes quite fast. Its not very involved at all really and no specialist tools are needed other than an iron and something thin and flat thats made of metal - - i think i used a cheap steel ruler the first time i did one

stainless steal palette knife is what I used last.

and yeah what wes said you'll think its not working and all of a sudden its will be dead easy! heating whatever you are using helps too.

and be careful even a palette knife will do a good job or scraping the side of your finger away if you slip.

Edited by joshvegas
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I used a wet wash cloth and a ski tuning iron (the kind that melts wax onto p-tex bases). That melted the glue and the fretboard actually just warped and twisted itself right off the neck. It took a bit of time, but i used that method to transfer an ebony fingerboard from one guitar to another. Who knows, you could probably use the fingerboardless neck for something else?

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the really fast way of doing it. for me, would be to mark where the truss rod is, and make 2 cuts on the neck lengthwise (with a bandsaw), giving a lot of room not to hit the truss rod. and then use a chisel and hammer between the FB and the neck wood, to get to the truss rod cavity.

That's what I did when a truss rod broke, now that I read this I guess I sisn't do the iron thing long enough, but after I got thetruss rod out I attached a piece of wood to the back of the neck and ran it through a planer no problems at all.

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the really fast way of doing it. for me, would be to mark where the truss rod is, and make 2 cuts on the neck lengthwise (with a bandsaw), giving a lot of room not to hit the truss rod. and then use a chisel and hammer between the FB and the neck wood, to get to the truss rod cavity.

That's what I did when a truss rod broke, now that I read this I guess I sisn't do the iron thing long enough, but after I got thetruss rod out I attached a piece of wood to the back of the neck and ran it through a planer no problems at all.

the beauty of using the iron is that it makes no mess and I can'e see it taking anylonger than firing out the powertools!

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Why not practice the same technique required, if you'd ever need to remove/reassemble a board and neck on a repair situation ?

I've got what's called a "travel Iron". It's a mini clothes iron about 3-1/2" wide by 6" long (damn old, probably 70's, but works fine). Quite nice for fret-board removal and it doesn't want to tip off the board nearly as easily as a full sized clothes iron.

Plus there's no little "steam holes" on it like most full sized clothes irons have, so no holes for sap, oils, dirt or glue to get in there where you can't clean it out easily.

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I've got what's called a "travel Iron". It's a mini clothes iron about 3-1/2" wide by 6" long (damn old, probably 70's, but works fine). Quite nice for fret-board removal and it doesn't want to tip off the board nearly as easily as a full sized clothes iron.

I use a small Norelco travel iron as well. Works like a charm.

fbremoval01.jpg

http://h1.ripway.com/jcharrist/guitars/fbremoval02.jpg

http://h1.ripway.com/jcharrist/guitars/fbremoval03.jpg

Generally takes about 20-30 minutes but the neck and fretboard are almost always reuseable.

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Why not practice the same technique required, if you'd ever need to remove/reassemble a board and neck on a repair situation ?

.

You know, I can't figure out why that didn't occur to me at all. I don't forsee myself ever having to do that sort of repair work, but it could certainly be a situation in a botched attempt during a build, and regardless - if it ever comes up, I'd be glad to have had my hand at it first.

I'll give it a little more careful go and see if I can salvage both parts, even though I have no intent of using them (and they're still bound for the scrap pile or fire or whatever.) It'll be a while, as this is the last thing on the list of priorities, but yeah.

Thanks for all the pointers, guys. I certainly see all the drawbacks with the more aggressive methods, and was aware of them before hand, I was hoping there was some sort of magic bullet method that would pop it off super quick, even if it destroyed everything else but the rod. (Perhaps an explosive charge!) Doesn't seem like there is. Glad to hear that heating the board works quicker than I was originally led believe.

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