1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

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John Scime
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:04 pm
Location: Mississippi Mills, Ontario

1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by John Scime »

Hello there. Its been a while ...

I'm currently working on this old Gibson made Kalamazoo KM-11. It was a bit of a basket case, with 6 cracks in the top, 2 cracks on the back, a broken brace and very worn frets.

As you can see, it is back together and I am in the process of refretting it with banjo fret wire. This was simple up to the 9th fret using my hand held fret press. But I'm not very please with the results of the frets I've done over the neck block.

Is there a way I can use my drill press as an arbor, and if so, do I need to brace the 4 frets over the body? and how do I do that? On a guitar I could use my scissor jack, but it wont fit.

In general, I am a little nervous about using the hammer on this old dear, as it is fragile. I am also having trouble acquiring lead shot here in Canada, as we need a firearms registration to buy reloading materials. Is there a good substitute?


Thanks in advance.
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Bill Raymond
Posts: 364
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:37 pm
Location: Red Bluff California

Re: 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by Bill Raymond »

I would imagine that a sack of steel BBs or perhaps lead pellets for an air/CO2 gun, if these are available to you in Canada, should suffice; but I can't, of course, say for sure, as I've never tried them for this purpose.

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Barry Daniels
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by Barry Daniels »

I like to open up the fret slots over the body to about .028" and then the frets can be just tapped in with a small hammer.
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Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

You can open up the fret slots and glue the frets in. "Split shot" for fishing might be a substitute for lead shot.

By removing the end from a small ratcheting bar clamp you can turn it into a "spreader". http://www.harborfreight.com/4-in-ratch ... 68974.html You might have to add a "hook" to one end if it won't fit through the soundhole.

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Mark Swanson
Posts: 1972
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:11 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
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Re: 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by Mark Swanson »

Plain old sand works, too.
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John Scime
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:04 pm
Location: Mississippi Mills, Ontario

Re: 1936 Kalamazoo KM-11 Mandolin restoration - fretting over the tongue

Post by John Scime »

Thanks for the advice, all. I'll put it to good use. js

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