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Rubber tipped hammer vice Plastic
Author
Post
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 261
The kit instructions for setting frets talk about using a plastic tipped hammer. Can a hard rubber tipped hammer replace it?

Jan 15, 10 | 5:56 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
"Any" small hammer can be used brass is nice but also not necessary -- the concern is causing flats spots on the fret wire, but the truth is the frets will need to be leveled and dress anyway. Don't get sucked into the "Magic" tool money pit --- $.02

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Jan 15, 10 | 6:06 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
If you want to make a hammer that has a plastic head, just get any plastic coffee can lid, butter tub lid, etc., from the trash, cut it into strips the same width as your hammer head about 3 or 4 inches long, and put them on your hammer head with some rubber bands or tape. Works every bit as well as a special plastic hammer as long as you get the plastic snug against the face of the hammer head. If you wear out the plastic, just make some more.

I differ with Ken on using a regular hammer because if you put a dent in a fret, you have to level the fret at least that low, and you'll end up with dents all over the frets. Those frets can get pretty low working it that way.

The butter-dish plastic or brass would work better.

Bill

Jan 15, 10 | 8:19 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Great suggestion Bill!

You are right if you can prevent dents why not do so?

If you don't mind I'd like to put this tip on my website.

Ken

Jan 15, 10 | 8:31 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
A plastic mallet is pretty inexpensive and lots of uses (like Bill says, it is non maring). If you damage the plastic head you can buy a new one (they just screw on). I used this one to fret 5 instruments before I started pressing the frets in - probably only a few bucks at Lowes


Jan 15, 10 | 8:33 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
I should add that over the years I have never used anything but a regular steel tack hammer and it has not been a problem "for me" anyway. The most important thing in my view is stike the fret wire squarely with the center of the hammer head and also not to use rebounding blows --- each tap should be a firm single stroke. The nail hammering approach is what can cause the dents and also the miss hits can result in the wire popping out of the slots. I am going to try the padded hammer head on my next fret job.

Ken

Jan 15, 10 | 8:58 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I used a hammer my father in law had in his body shop. It is similar to a tack hammer in that it has a bigger head than a carpenters claw hammer and a nice smooth face since it was designed to tap dents out of sheet metal.
I did still end up with one dent but it is on a higher fret that I wont be playing on, so I polished it anyway. I did not want to take the frets as low as I would have needed to in order to remove the dent.

Jan 15, 10 | 9:12 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Sure Ken. Easy to illustrate, too.

Jan 15, 10 | 9:45 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
One thing that can make all the difference is that you need to have the fretboard on a firm, totally unyielding base (like a concrete garage floor, for instance, or a large concrete building block, etc.) so that you can deliver a single firm blow (as Ken says above) each time.

Jan 15, 10 | 9:53 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
$5.00 at Harbor Freight will get you a plastic/rubber head small mallet that works great. That is what I've used....the plastic side.
My moto is "don't spend more than you have too".
My 2 rupees worth.

Kevin

Jan 15, 10 | 12:29 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I highly recommend one of these too. I cut off a short piece to put under the neck when doing things like nuts and made the long piece just long enough to support the complete length of the neck from headstock to heel.

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Pressing/Neck_Support_Caul.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=10017

There are differences of opinions on whether to fret before the f/b is glued on to the neck (and for that matter, before or after the neck is joined to the body). I've settled on doing it after gluing to the neck, before setting to the body (if you build a classical it will be after). I used SM's fret pressing caul in a drill press last time with the neck caul as back up - worked really slick.


Jan 15, 10 | 1:45 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Btw - one more handy little "tool" is that L shaped thingie in my picture - it is a piece of fret wire with the tangs filed off to use as a depth guage. After sanding the fretboard use that to make sure your slots are deep enough before banging 'em in.

Jan 15, 10 | 1:47 pm
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
I've always used a small brass headed hammer but a recent experience caused me to wonder about it. We taught a "Build Yer Own Uke" class to four students of varying experience levels. When it came time to fret, I demonstrated the little brass hammer I use, and partner Cat Fox showed (and used) her steel, big-headed cobbler's hammer. She uses this every day on a wide variety of instruments, not just ukes.

The student who grabbed the cobbler's hammer quickly fretted his fingerboard without difficulty; the ones using my hammer had problems. When they switched to the cobbler's hammer, they found it very easy. Everyone in the class agreed that they'd much rather use the larger hammer (larger head, not overall weight) than mine.

There's not much question that the cobbler's hammer is more likely to ding the fingerboard if you mis-hit a fret. But it was so efficient and easy, it took far fewer blows to seat the frets so it probably all balances out. I'm not quite a convert but if I ever find an old cobbler's hammer, I'll buy it ... and probably never pull out my little dedicated fret hammer again.

Jan 15, 10 | 2:58 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
This is part of what fascinates me about guitar building. This is great stuff.

Who woulda thought this subject would ahve so much input?

Bill

Jan 15, 10 | 3:10 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
RD, ITs a mass issue. The fret has a lot less mass than the cobbler hammer, so it will "give" by moving into the fret slot. You don't need to hit it hard at all...the energy keeps moving in the direction you want to move the fret. Some of the other hammers are so focused and so hard (frame nailers) that they bounce and take back the energy they imparted to the fret board and the floor. The nice thing, though about the plastic headed hammers is that if the head gets damaged, you can sand it flat and smooth again, and keep doing so for quite a while. I have typically used them without dents, but several strikes per fret. I got a fret press for my drill press, but haven't had the occasion to use it. Probably will this weekend for 3-4 fingerboards.

Jan 15, 10 | 5:15 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Amen, Bill. Thanks guys. There's a tremendous amount of creativity here. I'm amazed every day when I read the things you all come up with.
Awesome!
I work for the State of Texas, doing computer stuff, and travel all over East Texas. Fortunately 2 of my sites are in a town with a Harbor Freight - Nacogdoches is too small to - and I'll be up there next week. So shopping side trip seems in order.
I appreciate all the help in saving $ here and there.

Jan 15, 10 | 5:20 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
One thing I did try was a pair of big a*** pliers with a small caul for the fret. I taped a piece of cut off walnut flooring to the other side of the pliers to keep from marring the back of the FB. It worked well, but I did not feel I got the fret fully seated in the slot. So I put the FB on the garage floor (seems this is a common place to do it) and drove the three pressed in frets all the way home.
I realized how much easier hammering them in was so I did not go back to the pressing method. However, I did read a guy's blog who pressed his in with a modified C-clamp. He claimed great success. FYI the "modified C-clamp" was simply a C-clamp that had one of the swivel thingies broken off. He put a piece of hardwood onto the spindle where the swivel thingy used to be.
For anyone who thinks "thingy" or its plural version, "thingies" is not a technical term for that part of the clamp, you are right, I just dont know the name of it. ;-)

Jan 15, 10 | 7:29 pm



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