Jump to content

Cheap(Ish) Fret Slotting Saw

brian d

Recommended Posts

I was inspired by Demonx's fret slotting setup after having the displeasure of hand slotting a couple of Cooktown Ironwood boards which came out less than ideal.

After a trip to Bunnings I ended up with a cheap, small table saw. th_SAM_0285.jpg It's only 600W, but that should be plenty for the light cuts of fret slotting. Another compromise with it is that there is no depth adjustment, so I had to work around that. However, it's small which helps in limited space, and at $112 not too expensive. I ordered the fret slotting blade from Stewmac - not cheap, but that's the business end of the setup, so needed to be just right.

I changed the blade. th_SAM_0304.jpg, and measured the height of the blade above the table.th_SAM_0288.jpg (sorry about the poor photo).

I figured that I would make a larger auxiliary table to go on top, and a sliding table above. The combined thickness of those need to be blade height minus slot depth.

My careful calculations didn't work out - too much margin for error and I ended up with no blade sticking out above the sliding table.

I remade the auxiliary table with offcuts of thinner plywood, and melamine coated chipboard as a frame to hold the auxiliary table to the table saw.

th_SAM_0305.jpg th_SAM_0307.jpg and then made the sliding board with a fence at 90 degrees to the blade.th_SAM_0317.jpg. You can't see in these pictures, but the sliding table has runners that hug the auxiliary table and keep the movement straight. I extended the runners past the back of the table so as it gets pushed forward, the runners stay engaged.

The slot for the blade in the auxiliary table was made with a router, and in the sliding table it was made by lowering the sliding table over the blade while it was running, and then enlarged with a router. The sliding table was then slid forward while the saw was running so it cut all the way through to the back of the sliding table and left a notch in the fence for blade clearance. At this stage the blade was sticking up too high, so I stuck plywood shims on the auxiliary table to raise the sliding table.

th_SAM_0306.jpg. And Voila!th_SAM_0309.jpg. A few test cuts and fret placements to check the depth, and I was ready for a whole board.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today I did the first experimental board. I stuck the new fretboard to the back of an existing 25.5" slotted board. I could have used a printout from wfret instead of a real fretboard, but I had this on hand so was easier for today. I stuck the board slightly offset, so that the existing slots which are acting as a template won't be directly over the blade. In hindsight, that was probably unnecessary. th_SAM_0322.jpg

I placed the boards on the sliding table so that the area I wanted the nut to be was over the line of the blade. I then placed a piece of masking tape aligned with the zero fret slot of the reference board (could have been lined up with a printed template). th_SAM_0323.jpg Then just push the sliding table across the blade and back, move the boards so the next fret slot is aligned with the masking tape, repeat 24 times. (Actually 22 times, then I had to mark where the 23rd and 24th frets would be and then do the last 2 repeats.) At first I used this visual only method of lining up as a quick, easy way to delay making or buying templates and installing a guide pin, but after seeing how easy it was to do it this way, I don't think I'll bother with templates and guide pins at all.

This picture shows the new board straight of the slotter with the template board still stuck to it. th_SAM_0324.jpg

And here are the two boards side by side showing the perfect alignment, of the new slots with the old.SAM_0325.jpg

Very satisfying.

Any questions? Comments?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...