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best tool for cutting fretboard?


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Well i've got a couple questions. I'm working on my neck and I need some help cutting the fretboard because they come like 2 3/8inch wide and thats way too wide so I have the line traced of the neck im copying on the fretboard but i cant find an effective tool to use. Ive tried a coping saw blade (which isnt strong/sharp enough to cut through the wood) ive tried regular handsaws and i've even used an electric hand saw but the fretboard was so fragile the saw would jolt the fretboard up and down so I decided to stop.

I've tried filing, sanding, etc. What effectively cuts a fretboard (rosewood) well? Keep in mind i need about an inch off at the high frets and half inch on the lower ones.

Another question on my maple neck

Right now one side is completely smooth and flat, and the other one looks like a range of mountains. Theres divots in it and its all uneven. What is the best way to even all that out? I've tried using a small hand plane which seemed to get stuck quite often. I've tried electric sanders which seemed to take all day. And Chisels I hate because of their inaccuracy and splitting of the wood.

Is there any tools that im missing or do i just need to realize this is gonna take a lot of time and stick to sanding/filing? Any help is very much appreciated thanks.

-brendan

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Here is the way I've been doing the fretboard.

1. Draw on the back of the fretboard a straight line and use the same template that I cut the top of the neck out with to draw the neck out using the straightline as a guide. (if you don't use templates yet, you should really consider doing so)

2. Glue the fretboard on, making sure that it stays within the pattern you drew out at all times.

3. Then when it it dries, use a bandsaw to cut the extra fretboard wood off, leaving somewhere around 1/4" past the neck edge.

4. I then take a Robosander and bring it flush with the neck slowly. To use this method you'll have to make sure you didn't contour the back of your neck yet.

That's basically it... but there are many, many, many ways to do it

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i always ruff cut about a 1/16" away from the edge (using metal guide) to get the initial taper, made sure i take my time to line up the center line on the neck aswell as the fret placement (so controling both sideways and up and down movement of the board while glueing) then once it's dry (the next day) i lay it on the fingerboard side and flush trim to the line, i usually try to go pretty slow just incase to prevent any tear out around he fret slots and the heel of the neck.

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i always ruff cut about a 1/16" away from the edge (using metal guide) to get the initial taper, made sure i take my time to line up the center line on the neck aswell as the fret placement (so controling both sideways and up and down movement of the board while glueing) then once it's dry (the next day) i lay it on the fingerboard side and flush trim to the line, i usually try to go pretty slow just incase to prevent any tear out around he fret slots and the heel of the neck.

That's another way that I've done before, but nowdays I'm almost always using Ebony fretboards so I have been kinda scared to use the flush trim method with it. Just kinda scared of tearout, but I've had good luck using that method before though. Either way you do it, you need to not contour the back of the neck or you won't have a straight guide for your template bearing to ride on. Good tips Krazy D.

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i do it differently.

Depending on my mood, i either plane the fretboard to the final size, or trim it on my compund saw.

The fretboard is inlaid prior to that. The side dots are inserted before i glue the fretboard down.

I then glue the fretboard, which is final sized already, to the neck blank, and trim the neck blank to suit the fretboard.

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thanks guys, i drew a line on the back of the fretboard and just have a little more sanding to do until its flush with the neck. Gonna glue it on first and then make it flush with the neck though.

For shaping the back of the neck is a spokeshave really the only effective tool? or are there others?

And anyone reccomend some good wood glue at Home Depot or Lowes please? for glueing rosewood -----> maple.

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From Lee Valley, I got a 'contour plane' (actually, a pair) which are the poor man's spokeshave, or at least so it seems to me. I also grabbed a "Microplane Rasp", and I love the way it works so much that I'm not sure I'll even risk using the contour planes. Unlike a conventional rasp, it doesn't leave the wood all 'chewy'. Of course, you'll still have to sand regardless of how -relatively- smooth it is.

One thing I'm discovering (slowly) is that it's less important to worry about doing things the 'right' or 'accepted' way than it is to find a way that works for you and that you're comfortable with.

Greg

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For shaping the back of the neck is a spokeshave really the only effective tool? or are there others?

Spokeshave is great for getting the overall length of the neck where you want it. I have had good results with round and half round rasps when shaping heel and headstock curves. Once I get the back of the neck roughed out and checked with straight edge, I'll hand sand until it feels right.

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That's another way that I've done before, but nowdays I'm almost always using Ebony fretboards so I have been kinda scared to use the flush trim method with it. Just kinda scared of tearout, but I've had good luck using that method before though.

I was a bit nervous the first time I trimmed a fretboard that way but I've been doing it with ebony for a while with no problems at all. I use my router table and put in the stewmac pattern bit. The bearing rides along the pre-shaped (outline only) neck and trims the fretboard very nicely. I think the trick is to have the fretboard pre-trimmed close to the final dimensions and go slowly.

The reason why I like doing it this way with ebony is the damn dust contamination that you get when sanding it flush. I used to sand it to meet the neck (usually maple for me) and had the worst time getting the maple clean. I've tried masking but compared to using the router table - it's not worth the time/hassle.

I wouldn't try this without a very sharp router bit though. Each piece of wood has it's own properties so I could just be getting lucky avoiding tear out but - so far so good. :D

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That's another way that I've done before, but nowdays I'm almost always using Ebony fretboards so I have been kinda scared to use the flush trim method with it. Just kinda scared of tearout, but I've had good luck using that method before though.

I was a bit nervous the first time I trimmed a fretboard that way but I've been doing it with ebony for a while with no problems at all. I use my router table and put in the stewmac pattern bit. The bearing rides along the pre-shaped (outline only) neck and trims the fretboard very nicely. I think the trick is to have the fretboard pre-trimmed close to the final dimensions and go slowly.

The reason why I like doing it this way with ebony is the damn dust contamination that you get when sanding it flush. I used to sand it to meet the neck (usually maple for me) and had the worst time getting the maple clean. I've tried masking but compared to using the router table - it's not worth the time/hassle.

I wouldn't try this without a very sharp router bit though. Each piece of wood has it's own properties so I could just be getting lucky avoiding tear out but - so far so good. :D

when going from purple heart to ebony using the flush trim method, ebony feels like clay, compared to purple heart that will tear out and have pretty big chips like a m***er ****er every chance it gets, especially going around the heel...

or maybe it's just the peice of ebony i made my fingerboards out of?

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I've never tried a purple heart fretboard but I can certainly understand having trouble with it.

Has anyone else had trouble with sanding ebony flush against maple? I really prefer the nice crisp, clean edge that comes with using the router table method. On the other hand, if you really want to be careful - sanding is the safer way to go.

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I've never tried a purple heart fretboard but I can certainly understand having trouble with it.

Has anyone else had trouble with sanding ebony flush against maple? I really prefer the nice crisp, clean edge that comes with using the router table method. On the other hand, if you really want to be careful - sanding is the safer way to go.

I guess I started thinking about how much the ebony fretboard set me back and didn't want to take any chances with it since mine are already preslotted you can get tearout if your not careful. I have used the other method on rosewood though. I prefer to use a flush trim router bit myself on most stuff, cutting guitar body out, etc. etc. and would use it for that job also, but I'm just too leary that I'll mess something up real bad, since at that point I've got alot of time involved in the neck.. lol

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I've never tried a purple heart fretboard but I can certainly understand having trouble with it.

Has anyone else had trouble with sanding ebony flush against maple? I really prefer the nice crisp, clean edge that comes with using the router table method. On the other hand, if you really want to be careful - sanding is the safer way to go.

Plane it close, then use a properly sharpened scraper blade. Zero dust then...

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