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Gluing Fretboard To An Already Shaped Neck


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I am about to glue on a new fretboard (slotted and radiused) to an already shaped neck (fretboard replacement job) and was wondering if I need anything special. I have a ton of spring clamps at my disposal and several bar and pipe clamps, too. I know StewMac has fretboard clamps, but I don't need anything else from them at this time and was hoping to get away with just using what I have. Are there any particular techniques or tricks?

I was thinking of just putting the clamps on so that the lower pad is on the center of the neck, but then this doesn't put any direct pressure on the area of the fretboard where there is neck material underneath due to the truss rod channel. Will this be a problem? Thanks for any input.

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When I glue a fretboard to the neck I use a bunch of C clamps and Irwin Quick Clamps to hold it secure. I also use cork under the C clamps so they don't mess up the fretboard or the bottom of the neck. I drill a small hole between a fret slot at the upper and lower part of the fretboard and install temp locating pins (paper clips) to keep the fretboard from sliding around during the clamping process.

There is a picture in Melvin Hiscock's book "Make Your Own Electric Guitar" of a fretboard being glued to a neck using a bunch of clamps. That's basically what mine look like also. Stew Mac makes an 18" aluminum radius sanding block that can be used to help distribute the pressure more evenly during glue up. However, it is fairly expensive so you could go with 2 of Stew Mac's 8" wooden radius sanding blocks for much less money or make your own. However, I haven't had any problems with using the clamps only.

Good Luck,

Jeff

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I am about to glue on a new fretboard (slotted and radiused) to an already shaped neck (fretboard replacement job) and was wondering if I need anything special. I have a ton of spring clamps at my disposal and several bar and pipe clamps, too. I know StewMac has fretboard clamps, but I don't need anything else from them at this time and was hoping to get away with just using what I have. Are there any particular techniques or tricks?

I was thinking of just putting the clamps on so that the lower pad is on the center of the neck, but then this doesn't put any direct pressure on the area of the fretboard where there is neck material underneath due to the truss rod channel. Will this be a problem? Thanks for any input.

In my opinion it won't be a problem. I glue my fretboards on while the neck is unshaped, BUT the fretboard is already curved. I just put clamps down the centre line. After all, it's quite narrow, and I don't think the wood will flex in the sideways direction. Pressure from the clamps should be quite uniform. I use 2 trigger clamps and 4 large spring clamps and that seems to cover the length quite well.

I also use the trick of drilling the first and 12th fret slot (offset to the side to avoid the truss rod channel) through into the neck wood, with a 1mm drill and inserting a 1mm brad as a locating pin to stop the neck sliding on the glue as I clamp it.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I think for the "locating pins" I might just use the trick that I saw one custom bass builder use, and that is putting in a staple or two and cutting off the part that joins the two points. Kind of like really tiny brads, but he just leaves them in there.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I think for the "locating pins" I might just use the trick that I saw one custom bass builder use, and that is putting in a staple or two and cutting off the part that joins the two points. Kind of like really tiny brads, but he just leaves them in there.

Try it, but I found it much harder to relocate the holes. You see, when making the neck, I ...

- carefully position the roughly cutout fingerboard to align with where I want the nut on the neck and so that the fingerboard is parallel to the neck centreline,

- then drill and insert the two brads so it can't move,

- then flush trim the fingerboard to the neck using a straight cut router bit with template follower bearing

- I then remove the fingerboard again,

- put in the truss rod, and cover it with a narrow strip of masking tape, then spread the glue.

- I then remove the masking, and

- put the fingerboard back on, positioning it with the brads (this is the step that I think you will find hard with just tiny staple points).

- Then I clamp, clean, and wait :-)

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So you just drill into the fret slot? It seems like most bits are going to be larger than the .023" slot for the fret, no? If such is not the case, then I will do the locating pins with brads as suggested, I just don't want to widen the slot at all so that the frets seat nicely.

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The drill bits I used were slightly larger than the fret slots, but they are easily covered by the width of the fretwire, so there is no concern there. I just used the same bits I drilled with as the locating pins. I drilled the holes, then placed the pins in upside down to ensure stability. I know it was overkill but I've heard people having slipping problems even using pins, so I did 2 pins in the first fret and two more towards the bottom. Worked perfectly. I left the pins in while the glue dried. I used epoxy and some of the pins got glued in, but I just took my soldering iron and held it to the pin for a bit and they easily slid out. Also for my bound board, I had it already radiused and shaped to its final dimensions. I used two of those stewmac plastic clamps they sell, I must admit I really found them useful and they did a great job of keeping the board centered. I used these to hold the board perfectly in place while I drilled the locating pins, worked great. Along with those I used a couple radius blocks to get even pressure on the fretboard. All in all I had no issues and was very pleased with the method, I felt it took a lot of possible complications out of the mix mainly in regards to shaped boards and soft plastic binding. Best of luck. J

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So you just drill into the fret slot? It seems like most bits are going to be larger than the .023" slot for the fret, no? If such is not the case, then I will do the locating pins with brads as suggested, I just don't want to widen the slot at all so that the frets seat nicely.

The 1mm hole is slightly wider than the fret slot, but it is completely covered by the fret top. As it only makes the slot wider for 1mm of the slot's length, and chances are that will be between the tangs of the fretwire anyway, it is not an issue. I used 1mm because I could buy brads the same size. The bullet head on the brads I bought make it easier to remove them after the glue has dried.

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Ahh, I get it, makes perfect sense now. Sounds like a pretty slick method. I should be putting the board on it tomorrow, so here's hoping it comes out as well as it sounds like all of yours have. Thanks for the input everyone.

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Ahh, I get it, makes perfect sense now. Sounds like a pretty slick method. I should be putting the board on it tomorrow, so here's hoping it comes out as well as it sounds like all of yours have. Thanks for the input everyone.

One more thing, when I drill the holes, I wiggle the drill a bit, because I want the brads to be fingertight only. They are used as locating pins, not nails :D

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