Anyone who has ever radiused a fretboard using a hand sanding block knows how tedious this can be. It normally takes about 45 minutes to an hour to hand sand the fretboard. And you still need to build a jig with rails so the block stays straight. I find doing it this way a great way to accumulate ebony dust for filling around inlay work, but other than that I don’t like it.
So last week I ordered the fretboard radius jig from Luthier Suppliers – www.luthiersuppliers.com It arrived yesterday and I assembled it today and used it for the first time. It does require a drum sander for use.
The jig took about 5 minutes to assemble and set up. After that it takes about a minute to place center markings on the fretboard and tape it to the jig with two sided tape. Once the fretboard is centered on the jig, you make very light passes thru the drum sander. Moving the fretboard platform of the jig just a little bit with each pass around a preset radius in the jig ends.
When I saw this on the website, I thought ‘there must be little ridges left to hand sand when the machine sanding is done’. I was wrong; I did two fretboards today in about 10 minute’s total. I checked each on at multiple locations along the fretboard and the line up was perfect. There was no need to do any major hand sanding. What a great jig.
I do plan to hand sand with 220 and 320 to smooth and buff the surface, but only so I don’t have to change my drum sander grit.
If you radius your own fretboards, and have access to a drum sander, this is a great jig. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider this investment in your shop.