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can i make fret hammer


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Why dont you press your frets? I made my own fret pressing caul. Cut the concave radius in a piece of hard wood(I mean firm, rigid wood that doesn't dent easily, not hard as in wood terms balsa is a hardwood) I then lined it with 3mm aluminium. Ive fitted it with a clip so I can simply clip it onto the jaws of my bench vise. Simply press the fret lightly in to the slot with your fingers or perhaps a light tap with a hammer on each end and press in with the caul. Works great.

Keith

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For a short period some time ago, Harbor Freight was selling these all brass head hammers that seemed like they'd be a great fretting hammer. I didn't buy one, because I thought they'd always have them. They also had a copper one. Now, as far as I know, the closest they have is a 'dead-blow" hammer with a brass face on one side. I heard the "dead blows" are not good for fret-work, so i don't want one of them.

Stew mac ain't the only place to get a hammer for fretting. If you lay a piece of steel over the frets, you can use a regular steel carpenters hammer. Last time I hammered frets, I used a steel hammer, and I put a brass rod on the fret, and hit the other end of that with the hammer, worked quite well. It was faster than my pressing method, which is why I was experimenting with it, but I think I'll stick with my pressing method (could change my mind any second, tho)

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I made a fretting hammer with a brass head (and Birdseye Maple handle!) and it marked frets. I ended up going to a hardware store and got a nylon/plastic faced hammer for like $20. 8oz is a good weight to look for BTW.

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I use a regular claw hammer or ball pein (which ever is handy) and a piece of oak. It was turned on the lathe to use as a sanding bobbin, so it's about 4" long by 1" round, with a 1/2" section comprising about out 1" of it length (this bit was to chuck in a handrill so it needed to be narrow). I rarely use it for sanding now, but I do use it for fretting. I sit the narrow end over the fret, tap down each end, then walk back and forwads accross the fret seating it perfectly. The first tap put a nice reverse indentation of the fret into the end, so it doesn't slip, and it's doesn't mark the frets at all.

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I've always used a ball pein hammer. It was my grandfathers, and the handle is near petrified by now. I soaked the top part in CA, and ground the face flat, then buffed it to a mirror finish. The mirror finish is the key to not marking frets. If you can dent a fret with any mirror finish hammer the fretwire is too soft, or you're hitting too hard. But any roughness to the surface will mar the frets for sure. The flat section on mine is about 1/2" diameter on the small side. The big heavy top makes for a sort of "dead blow" action without the oil and shots.

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Why dont you press your frets? I made my own fret pressing caul. Cut the concave radius in a piece of hard wood(I mean firm, rigid wood that doesn't dent easily, not hard as in wood terms balsa is a hardwood) I then lined it with 3mm aluminium. Ive fitted it with a clip so I can simply clip it onto the jaws of my bench vise. Simply press the fret lightly in to the slot with your fingers or perhaps a light tap with a hammer on each end and press in with the caul. Works great.

Keith

Do you think the radius blocks from stewmac would work? And if so would i be able to press multiple frets in at once??

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could you use a rubber mallet?

Sure, if you want to make a difficult task even more difficult.

Even the hard plastic ones are too "bouncy" to suit me.

Plenty of pros use a steel hammer :

Mike Stevens

Hideo Kamimoto

T.J Thompson

Martin Co

Brian Galloup uses a brass faced on a video

Anthony Lintner uses a brass hammer

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could you use a rubber mallet?

Sure, if you want to make a difficult task even more difficult.

Even the hard plastic ones are too "bouncy" to suit me.

Plenty of pros use a steel hammer :

Mike Stevens

Hideo Kamimoto

T.J Thompson

Martin Co

Brian Galloup uses a brass faced on a video

Anthony Lintner uses a brass hammer

so can you use a normal hammer(metal)?...I thought someone said it makes marks on the frets....whats better...plastic / brass?

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Do you think the radius blocks from stewmac would work? And if so would i be able to press multiple frets in at once??

No I don't think you should attempt to press all frets at once. The StewMac Radius blocks are to long, but you could cut a slice off the end, about 16mm (5/8") should do,and use that.

Phil I'll try to post a picture or two of my fret pressing setup.

Keith

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a metal hammer needs to be ground and polished very smoothly, PLUS you have to use it the right way. The hard plastic would be better for you, if you don't want the hassle of buying or making a properly customized metal hammer. Or if you think you want to modify a metal hammer you already have, make sure you listen to Frank's good advice above.

Maybe having some experience in auto body repair helps (was supposed to be my career many moons ago). In fact, photos I've seen of a fretting hammer used by the CF Martin Company look like the hammer is actually a hammer for auto body work. I've heard of small (maybe medium too) carpenters hammers being used for tapping frets in, but again, the strinking face of a metal hammer must be ground and polished very smooth .

An article in an old LMI catalog says with a brass hammer, it's preferred that the face of the hammer is slightly rounded and the edges tapered (whatever exactly that means).

I know from experience that you can use an unmodified metal hammer for fretting if you lay something over the frets, like a piece of flat steel (with rounded edges)

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There's a link there (article), where Gene Imbody explains how to hammer. I can tell by reading it, that he doesn't have much experience hammering frets. Especially when he says :

"The hammer head should make solid contact with the fret, seating it with only one blow. The act of repeated hammering produces a spring-back effect on the neck, and this bouncing leads to poorly-seated frets. "

You can't avoid some "spring back" because the area under the fret is wood. And if you ever watch the typical hammer-in job, they have to use a series of several taps, working the fret into the slot, little by little.

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The ball pein is too rounded. It will dent the frets because all the pressure is isolated to one little part. You should grind a flat spot in the round head and buff it. My spot is about 5/8" in diameter and very slightly convex with rounded shoulders so no matter how I come down it doesn't put a dent in the fret. Except a couple times when I came down off to one side it put a little scrape on the side of the fret that came out in the buffing.

As for seating the fret in one blow, the only way I know to do that is by pressing them in :D If you seat a section all the way you've just kinked the fretwire and then even if you seat the rest of the fret perfectly there's a deformity to the crown in that part. I tap across, seating the fret little by little without really taking the radius out of it. Sometimes with Ebony you have to give it a good whack or two in stubborn areas. Even then I don't dent the frets. That's why I said if you dent the fret with a flat polished surface you're hitting too hard or you have a weak batch of fretwire. I only dented fretwire my first few times as I was learning the ropes. You know, hitting harder because it wasn't "seating" only to realize it was springing out, and each time I hit it, it was just getting springier. Stuff like that. It wasn't the hammer's fault.

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