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Radiusing the Fingerboard

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Believe it or not I have a book on building guitars, but am still confused on how the whole fretboard making goes. They're not very clear in the book, they mention problems you'd run in to depending on your order of doing things, but don't mention remedies.

Which order do you do these in?

1) saw the fretslots out

2) cut the fretboard's taper

3) radius the fretboard, and do you do this on or off the neck?

It would seem to be to be difficult to radius the fingerboard with the fret slots cut out, and even if you could, wouldn't you have to re-saw them to make sure they're evenly deep?

-How do you radius a fretboard that's not installed on the neck?

-How do you accurately mark and/or saw the fretslots once it's installed or radiused?

AAAAhhhh help!!!

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i do it 1 ->2 ->3

cut the taper right before it goes on the neck blank, then radius after, yes you have to touch up the fret slots with a depth gauged saw, but it's the more accurate way if you don't want a gap under the wire

you can either buy something like the stew mac miter box and fretting templates, or do like wes does and just take your time, measure very accurately and fret with the correct saw and a good miter box.... there's actually part of a tutorial on slotting isnt there????

ya, here... bottom of the page http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/neck.htm

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Well the tuturial appears to do it in 2, 1, 3, which is part of the reason I was asking.

Does this mean you guys sand the radius instead of planing it since the fretslots would chip out and stuff?

Also, do you radius the board before or after you've glued it to the neck?


(yes I'm a little slow)

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well you can tapper before you fret, but like i said most (assumption) people use miter box's, so that's where tappering afterwards becomes kind of essential.

most people radius a fingerboard using some sort of sanding technique, (yes there are 2, possibly 3) 1. being of course the radius sanding block 2. the swinging arm ocntraption used along with a fairly large stationary belt sander.

the only way i know of to plane the radius into a fingerboard is to order a custom shaper bit, but then you need a fairly powerfull shaper machine, and a motorized feed fence.

you can radius before or after you glue it on the neck, i find it easier after it's glued on, some people on this forum do do it before you glue it on, so it's up to you


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My way...(with 1 neck under my belt, but I did think about it for ~ a month before starting...)

1. Cut the taper of the neck blank (and install truss rod)

2. Cut the taper of the fret board to match

3. Glue board onto neck blank

4. Radius the board (sanding blocks) and sand flush the edges of the neck

5. Cut the fret slots

6. Touch up the board with radius block (to trim any burrs from fret slotting)

7. Install the frets

8. Do the fret work

9. Contour the back of the neck (always last for me)

I cut the slots after radiusing because I think if you do it before, then you run the risk of "rounding" the edges of the slot with the sander, which would make for a poor fret fit.

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