How do you finish the finger board?

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Michael Cyr
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Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2021 9:42 am

How do you finish the finger board?

Post by Michael Cyr »

I'm building a ukulele and it is my first build with frets. Usually i will spray a finish on when everything is finished and tape off the parts i don't want finish on but frets can not be taped off. So what is the most common method around this? I'm not their yet but trying to plan ahead and get it right. Thanks, Mike

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Peter Wilcox
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Location: Northeastern California

Re: How do you finish the finger board?

Post by Peter Wilcox »

For me it depends on the wood used. For rosewood, osage orange and cocobolo I don't put any finish on it. I tape off the fret board near the headstock, and spray the neck upside down to avoid getting any finish on the fret board. For maple I spray the whole thing, and scrape the finish off the individual frets.

I think some folks put some type of oil on the unfinished boards, but don't know which.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

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Barry Daniels
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Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: How do you finish the finger board?

Post by Barry Daniels »

I don't normally finish my fretboards, but when I do, I spray a few coats of lacquer on before fretting. Makes for a clean job during fret installation.
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Michael Cyr
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Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2021 9:42 am

Re: How do you finish the finger board?

Post by Michael Cyr »

Thank you Peter & Barry, i originally googled finishing a fret board and found mostly people applying a wipe on finish. After Peters reply a looked up scrape frets clean and everything opened up for me from using a penny or nail head to using a fret guard. I found something that will work for me perfect. Cut a soda can into 2 strips, lay them down alongside the fret and tape the two ends and you have an exact fitting fret guard. Laying a coat of lacquer down first is a good idea it allows me to sand the first coat smooth after the grain is raised and all other coats will lay down nice. Thanks

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Barry Daniels
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Re: How do you finish the finger board?

Post by Barry Daniels »

I forgot to mention that I have used wipe-on finishes on fretboards too. I have used Minwax Wipe-On Poly.

I think I didn't get my main point across. You don't need to apply finish after fretting. In fact, you will just make more work for yourself. Apply your finish before fretting but keep it fairly thin. Then install your frets and do your fret work. Obviously you will need to keep the fret work from scratching up your finished fretboard, but that can easily be done by covering it with masking tape.
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