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First Fretting Experience ~ StewMac v KMG Method
Author
Post
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 352
I fretted the ebony f/board yesterday and started as per video instructions for my StewMac kit. For me the StewMac "fret ends in first method" was rather trying as the ends seated well both sides but then they sprung out of the ebony board as I worked across the middle. After a few had done this I switched to KMG's "one end in first method", as shown on Ken's website, and had much more success.

So was it my hammer technique or the ebony being less forgiving of newbies ? The test sample board supplied with the kit went very smoothly and I thought the whole deal was going to be a breeze. Of course the sample board is flat and so I believe takes the frets eaiser than a radiused f/board.

BTW how many of you guys work wearing a magnifing headseat to see the detail of your work ? Man they haven't been off my head for the last two months and can give the impression of everything I do look pretty slack. When I take them off the job looks not too bad for a first timer ;)

Sep 27, 06 | 3:07 pm
Phlytyer (Keith)

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 273
Andy:

You're scaring me...I have that ebony out in the box and hammer (and glue) are sposed to arrive tomorrow from LMI. Now I'm thinkin' maybe I really ought to press them ala StewMac....

As to the headset...mine is not on ALL the time but it is there toooooo frequently. Also have a loupe when things get reeeaaall hairy.

-K

Sep 27, 06 | 5:03 pm
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
Keith, I also used thin & thick super glue. Thin to set the frets after they were in and thick to fill in the fret ends. StewMac instructions and KMG both suggest this method.

And what about the couple of chip outs that factured out of the fret slots as I was putting in the frets? [Seems this comes with the territory with ebony] I used ebony sanding dust and thick super glue to fill them. This really works well and once carefully sanded back they're close to invisible.

Best of luck mate !

Sep 27, 06 | 8:22 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Keith -- look in the "Tools" forum here for a Home-made Fret Press; it looks like it wil work just as well as Stewmac's arbor press.

Sep 28, 06 | 5:49 am
mishmannah

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 67
My fretting experience went without a hitch. I used the KMG method of hammering, sharp blows from one end to another on a scrap of marble. I have been very fortunate to have completely level frets.

As I dropped CA glue into the ends, I used a pair of pliers to hold the fret to the fretboard for one minute as the glue took hold.

Sep 28, 06 | 5:56 am
ejko

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 113
I too had concerns about which method to use. I wound up using the following method which led to well seated level frets.

1. Cut the frets slightly oversize.
2. Bend a curve into them (done by hand) them so that the middle is actually a bit higher than need be.
3. Put some water in the fret slots, followed by a drop of LMI glue (the water dilutes it and spreads it around the slot.
4. Tap one end of the fret in place leaving a bit overhanging the edge. I used a brass 'non-rebounding' type hammer that I picked up at a flea market for a few dollars.
5. Tap in the other end.
6. Tap in the middle; by doing so it spreads out and locks in the ends.
7. When done, use a straight edge to find any high frets and tap them down as necessary.

This worked well for me on my only build. I know some folks on this forum more expereinced than me have identified more sophisticated approaches that are probably more forgiving. Can't say for sure that my expereince is the best way or just beginners luck.

Ed

Sep 28, 06 | 8:17 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
What Ed outlines here will work. It is not as daunting as you'd think, but the first one is always scary.

It is important, as Ed says, to tap one end, THEN the other end, THEN the middle. Even without an CA glue or water (which I have never used) this presses the outer tangs of the fret outward and locks the fret in place. If you don't hit "too hard" you won't have chipped ebony.

And ... You might find that your fretboard is longer than needed, at the lower end. If you will be trimming a few frets (like above #20) off, you can treat these lower slots as practice slots and fret them first.

And ... It might also be a good idea to start at the lower end of the fretboard; thus, you will be fretting from the least-used frets to the most-used. Your technique will improve with each and every fret.

Bc

Sep 28, 06 | 9:54 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Just a small tip regarding ebony or even RW fingerboards --- personally I do not like to use water, 21 or so frets of moisture accumulation ??? Anyway, gliding a small triangular file in the slots to knock off the edges of each makes the job a little more sure footed since it then easier to align the fret wire tang. Also, if a re-fret is ever done, the board will chip less when the frets are pulled out.

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com

Sep 29, 06 | 5:29 am
BarryO

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 58
Food for thought - do we call this 'fretting' ;) for a reason?!

Hava great weekend everyone!

Barry

Sep 29, 06 | 7:45 pm
Bluehorse

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 7
I read/saw recently on the net somewhere that Fender 30 years ago used a press to seat the frets but took a nail set type tool and gave them a small sideways tap to enhance the "bayonette" action of the tangs. sounds good to me; safe and a good mechanical joint, use some some CA glue and it sounds perfect. I'm making the press Bill mentioned above this weekend got the caul from Stewmac the other day. and will let you know on a test scrap about the side tap thing
-Frank

Oct 06, 06 | 3:15 pm
Craig

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 58
Wow, I just totally screwed up my FB yesterday putting frets in. I got about 6-7 chipouts just doing the first few - and those chipouts were major. Either my technique really sucked or my ebony fb was brittle (I think it was the former!!!). Anyway, after trying to repair the chipouts with black CA and it looking horrible I"ve decided to order at new FB and try it again. That sucks as I had the pearl inlay and all that stuff completely done. I did the practice ones perfectly and thought this was going to be a breeze grrrrrr!!!

Now I'm paranoid about doing it again. Do the drill press fret press cauls work? That seems to be a less violent way to do the job with less possibility for error.

Craig

Oct 21, 06 | 7:46 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Drill press cauls work fine, plenty of force. --- Curious what was your installation procedure? Also, if the repairs are done using a combination of ebony/RW dust and CA they will be invisible.

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com

Oct 21, 06 | 8:03 am
Craig

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 58
I used the Stu Mac fret hammer - but I was pathetic even after practicing. Then I got upset and took the frets out causing more damage - some of the chipouts are pretty big on the corner - it's the 17-20th frets. I've been trying to repair using the black dye CA mixed with ebony dust. I'm going to one more run at it today and see how it turns out.

Craig

Oct 21, 06 | 8:57 am
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
Craig, I had one decent sized chipout and used ebony dust saved especially for this possibility along with a medium viscosity CA. As Ken C says the finished patch up is invisible. It was when I had this chipout that I changed from Dan Erlewine's method to what Ken suggests.

Oct 21, 06 | 2:35 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Just thought of this --- to get an exact match of the fingerboard material I chisel out a few slivers from the glued side of the board and use them to make the dust, and fill those holes, which are unseen, with Bondo. Hope that makes sense.

Ken

Oct 21, 06 | 5:09 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Don't you have any scrap ebony from the building process? Grind it up and use that, should work. My suspicion is your fret slots might have been too narrow if you were having a hard time getting them in right, or your neck or FB was not supported well enough during the installation, and you were getting bounce back.

Oct 22, 06 | 7:54 pm



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