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Clamp Fret Press For Under $2


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Well after playing around with several ideas I had a eureka moment.

I was working on my own version of the SM clamp fret press the Jaws II, sort of modding it in the vain of the Arbor press. I knew Stumac had gone to the outside of the clamps screw and I was going to the inside, but I couldn't figure out how they had milled the Ball where the pad was attached. Maybe they had a huge lathe that fit the handle behind the chuck?

Well they didnt mill anything, they used the space behind the ball. Along with that eureka moment this idea popped into my head. After I cursed to myself for being a moron I got to work.

Well 20 minutes later I was fitting the SM arbor press onto the end of a Cheap 12" Garrett Wade Chinese clamp.


The sleeve above is too short the round too narrow and the set screws too long.

I suggest a 5/8" w x 1 1/2" L piece of mild steel for the project. This assumes you have taps, drill bits and at least a hand drill. To make sure this is enough length measure the clamp from the ball to the beginning of the threads and add that to the length of the SM shaft which on mine is 1". You also have to remove the pad from a clamp, I suggest a 12" long clamp as anything shorter may be too tight. Also the clamp should not be a deep reach clamp in case you want to use it on an acoustic it has to fit into the sond hole.

Optional step: First drill out the full length of the steel round with a small 1/8" diameter bit (centered on the round). A drill press is suggested along with a drill press vice. I used a lathe. If your are slightly off center no problem just use the thicker wall of the round for your set screws. Don't force the bit or you will not drill straight and clear the chips every few seconds while drilling.

Drill out one side 1" deep using a 3/8" bit this will accommodate the SM Fret press arbor. Make sure the SM shaft fits all the way in but do not drill any further toward the other side. Then with the correct drill bit that will allow your clamps ball to slide into the sleeve drill out the other side. You can test drill bits in wood to check hole sizes or use a drill bit sizing plate if you have one to find the correct drill bit for your clamp.

I suggest you use the SM arbor's recessed set screw slot so the arbor rotates freely. You could also use the ball end of the clamp but it will be hard to find a drill that exactly matches the ball ,so your sleeve may be loose on the clamp side. Securing the set screw on the clamp side of the sleeve side will assure a sold connection. With the ball side secure you can remove the SM arbor more easily for other uses. So when you drill out for your set screws measure the arbor side so it meets in the center of the SM arbors groove. On the clamp side make sure the set screw is behind the ball. If you are leaving the sleeve on the clamp add some locktite to the set screw threads, if you have some. Epoxy may also work with no set screw on the ball end.

Use what ever set screws you have or buy set screws for the tap you have. If you have to buy both don't go too big, I believe the arbor press uses a 6/32 inch set screw which requires a 6/32 inch tap and a #36 drill bit. This is what is on my sleeve.

If you're confused let me know, I will elaborate further.

Also you will need to make support blocks for this project. I suggest a band saw and some scrap wood. There are several other set screws used on the clamp itself see the Stumac site for details.



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Eh, I have one of the Stewmac Jaws II. I haven't ever gotten a fret to sit properly with it. I have it tossed aside, thinking that one of these days I'll get it to work, and I never have any luck. If you've already shaped the neck, it doesn't ever want to go in quite straight, and I can never get the fret to sit down flush. Maybe I'm just not strong enough. All the fidgeting required with the thing, you can hammer the frets in a lot quicker. I haven't found much of a use for it - I suppose it'd be handy over the tongue on an acoustic with the special caul supplied, but I've needed to shave a fair bit of the tang off for it to be able to press the frets in.

I know in the Stew Mac fret work book, they talk about having to use a specific brand clamp, as they needed one strong enough for the application. (The book was being written before the tool was released in it's final form, I guess?)

I don't know, it's been a while since I've tried to use the thing, maybe I should pull it out one more time and give it a go.

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Eh, I have one of the Stewmac Jaws II. I haven't ever gotten a fret to sit properly with it. I have it tossed aside, thinking that one of these days I'll get it to work, and I never have any luck.

Maybe you can enlighten us to how they attached the Arbor to the clamp. If they milled the clamp it would be nice to see a picture. If its like I imagined let us know. Also does it flop around (side to side)?

I thought about the relationship to the neck taper , but you have that same angle issue with an the arbor press and that works fine. maybe a better clamp choice would be a C clamp or adding a T handle to your current clamp for more torque. Working backward from my sleeve idea above I am sure your Arbor can be modified to work in an Arbor press by adding a round extension onto the end?

After pressing in frets I do not want to hammer frets unless I have to.

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Replaced the Sleeve and found out it was more like 1 3/4" long. I had to add another set screw on the clamp side and add flats behind the ball as the sleeve was leaning at an angle. Two set screws made it possible to align the sleeve with the screw. Not shown is the additioonal set screw.

I can see where this device is not quite as easy to use as the Arbor press or the original Jaws hand press.


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I'm not sure if these exert enough pressure right off, but Irwin makes these which use hand pressure to squeeze. I've been thinking about making the same thing only out of one of the irwin things.

It looks so simple once someone breaks it down though! Nice work Spoke!

I think that clamp will be less effective and has too much plastic. You would be better off with a Metal C Clamp or a Pliers type retrofit. The beauty of this sleeve idea is you can reuse your SM arbor and move it from one style of clamp to another. This assumes you have the SM fret press arbor.

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