StewMac tools

Fretting Tediousness

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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Chris Richards » Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:03 am

I've had a Stewmac tang cutter for years and find that it does completely remove the tang and even if I fret an unbound fretboard I do remove a fraction of the tang at the ends for two reasons 1) it gives a nicer finish to the fretboard edges as I find sometimes when I file a tang back to the fretboard edge you can occasionally get a burr that is difficult to remove and it looks ugly, also ...2) removing the last bit of the tang gives a little "reservoir" to drop a little CA glue into (that hopefully) "wicks" along the tang.

Have you also tried the ready to fit fret sets, I know they're relatively expensive when compared to a coil of fretwire but they're ready curved and have the ends of the tang removed.. I was quite skeptical at first but found the sets to be accurately cut and curved...Literally the worst bit is tipping them out of the bag and having to sort them in order! even after doing that I tend use the fret that fits best lengthwise in the slot, so a couple will need "nibbling".... For the extra cost, which really is minimal, in the scheme of things, It sure does speed-up things.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:05 am

Jason Rodgers wrote:Over at the OLF, this guy posted a cool little dremel jig for grinding off the tang on the end of the fret. http://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/view ... ng#p633712

That's pretty slick - dead simple and looks like it would work well...
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:50 am

Peter Wilcox wrote:
Gordon Bellerose wrote:Do any of you have a better, easier, faster method?

Yeah - I don't bind the fret board. :lol:

Every time I bind a fret board and am in the middle of fretting, that is what I think. Why didn't I leave it unbound?
But when the guitar is finished, I say, WOW! that binding really makes the guitar pop!
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Bob Gramann » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:12 am

I had a long discussion on guitar design with a touring musician that I see often at conferences. He complimented me on not binding my fretboards. He plays a lot of old guitars, almost a requirement for a blues player, and does not like paying the upcharge for refretting one with a bound fretboard.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:26 am

I understand the refretting cost issue. If I played enough that this was a major factor, it could legitimately affect my decision on which guitar to buy, but it seems a poor argument against binding as a design element. I have a MIM Strat that I've been playing for over 20 years, and I might be able to justify a re-fret from a visible wear standpoint but it still plays just fine. Depending on the rest of the design, an unbound fretboard just might not look right.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Dan Smith » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:46 pm

Gordon,
I got one of those drill press fret cauls from SM.
I tap each fret three times with a hammer to get them mostly in, then press them in with the caul.
It really speeds the installation time, and I believe the frets are better seated using the caul.
I installed the frets last night. Took 20 minutes.
I wicked in some CA at the fret ends.
Filed the edges smooth and added bevels tonight.

I definitely recommend the fret caul as a time saver.

Got the neck glued to the body.
I do the fret levelling and dressing after the neck is glued in and the guitar has been finished.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:49 am

Thanks Dan. I have a fret press, also from stewmac, and I agree that it makes the job quicker and better.
I'm hoping that having a better tang nipper will help a lot.

The one I have is from a company on fleabay. I bought it because it was half the price of stewmac's nipper, but you know the old saying.
You truly do get what you pay for. :oops: :o ;)
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sun Aug 21, 2016 12:29 pm

I use a dremel with a cut-off wheel. It is very tedious and occasionally I burn my finger tips but I've become proficient doing it this way. The tang nippers are hit or miss for me. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The nippers certainly don't like stainless steel frets. There's a prepackaged 60-something piece cut-off wheel accessory kit (made by Dremel) that sells for about $17 and in it are these thicker cut-off wheels that are good for cleaning up the underside of the crown where you've removed the tang.

I have a handy plank with two rows of 23 1/4" X 1" deep numbered holes. I have another thing which I also use which is an old guitar neck neck with two rows of holes. Its good for organizing the frets during the fret sizing process. I put the radius in the fret wire and then rough cut the lengths and drop the individual frets into their respective holes. Its then just a sequence process of doing each sizing procedure and then moving the fret over to the other row. Doing it this way establishes a rhythm and I think makes the job go easier.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:48 pm

I finally had the opportunity to use the new fret tang nipper from Stewmac, and it is as good as Barry said.
The nipper takes the tang (almost) completely off. A couple of passes with my diamond file and the fret is ready.
A worthwhile investment for sure.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Rodger Knox » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:23 pm

Mark Wybierala wrote:I use a dremel with a cut-off wheel. It is very tedious and occasionally I burn my finger tips but I've become proficient doing it this way. The tang nippers are hit or miss for me. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The nippers certainly don't like stainless steel frets. There's a prepackaged 60-something piece cut-off wheel accessory kit (made by Dremel) that sells for about $17 and in it are these thicker cut-off wheels that are good for cleaning up the underside of the crown where you've removed the tang.

I have a handy plank with two rows of 23 1/4" X 1" deep numbered holes. I have another thing which I also use which is an old guitar neck neck with two rows of holes. Its good for organizing the frets during the fret sizing process. I put the radius in the fret wire and then rough cut the lengths and drop the individual frets into their respective holes. Its then just a sequence process of doing each sizing procedure and then moving the fret over to the other row. Doing it this way establishes a rhythm and I think makes the job go easier.

I've never used the nippers, I've always done it just like Mark. I don't like it much, but it does work.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Arnt Rian » Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:51 am

Barry Daniels wrote:No modifications necessary. I have used mine for over 50 fret jobs and see no degradation in the cut. However, I have not used them for stainless steel or EVO frets yet.


I have used mine for plenty of EVO fret jobs, it does not seem to dull the tool noticeably. I find that if you tilt the nibbler a bit there will be a tiny bit of tang left, but usually not a problem. I have used mine for years and it has saved me a ton of time, if you are going to install frets on more than one bound fingerboard, just get it.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Dan Hehnke » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:14 pm

I never knew you could buy a set of frets pre-nipped! That sounds worth it to me.

BTW, Dan that SG shaped guitar looks great! Love the matching center wood on the body, what kind of wood is that and the fretboard?

I've been playing with the idea of making an SG-ish guitar, just enlarging the body a bit, maybe 105%-110% size, I've always loved the SG shape, but like a slightly larger body. Sorry, off topic!
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Stephen Neal Saqui » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:49 pm

cMy method is like this.
1. Bend the fret wire in my fret bender.
2. Measure and cut the fret a bit longer than necessary.
3. Trim the fret tang to the correct length for the slot.
4. File the bottom of the fret end flat. (this part is the worst part for me)
5. Apply glue and press the fret in to the slot.

#2: I eliminate #2 and cut the frets to length no measuring.
You have naturally over bent the fret-stock a little and when you press it in it lengthens just enough. There should be just a hair to file clean.

#3: I made my own tang cutter but the SM nibbler is as good but you still have to clean it up a bit.

#4: Here's a tip, put a stick in a vice pointing at you (horizontal). Cut off a piece of fret and square one end. Use that as a chisel to make a small notch on the end of the stick. You want to be able to lay the fret end down and file the end of the fret flush...takes a few seconds. This really speeds up this part of the job.

You want to do each of the steps to all the frets in a group. Don't do two or more steps on one fret. This makes each step in batches and you do each of them the same way which develops skill and habit...takes a lot less time.

I do a bound neck fret job in no more than 1 1/2 hours on repair guitars and somewhat less on shop-built.

Hope that helps some.
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Re: Fretting Tediousness

Postby Alexander Higgins » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:55 am

I just did it on my build in progress, tedious but strangely satisfying. My FB is bound, so I had to nibble the tangs. I used a Dremel cutoff wheel and jewelers file. 5 minutes /fret x 21 frets. All of this is new to me, so I didn't mind, but I can see a pro looking for something quicker.
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