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INLAYS AND FRETWORK       « Previous Next » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
by David P. Wescott
from fretsonthenet.com

My wife, the Luthier

Creation of the "Model" that should've been....

I originally wasn't going to do the fretboard inlays but as usual, I had a conversation with Mark and he always likes to make more work for me so we came up with this idea...

Inlays

Inlays of brass and birdseye

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These are brass rings turned on the lathe and the dots are actual birdseyes individually cut from the veneer I used. Yes, it was tedious but worth it. You can see the stages pretty clearly below and just some finish sanding, and it'll be clean as a whistle:

 
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Holes cut rough for the brass ring inlays.

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The brass ring inlays placed on the board.

 
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Dots of birdseye veneer placed inside the brass rings.

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Close-up of the work.

 
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Here I'm showing the side dot installation where solid brass was used since I'm probably going with brass/gold hardware.

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Finally, just a shot of the rough body with the fretboard laying on it for an idea of where we are going with this one.

 

Gluing the board onto the neck

I glued up the board to the neck using a tried and true method that was even used on this guitar originally. What is done is you clip the heads from 2 brads (very small diameter nails) and tap them into opposite sides of the neck and diagonally from each other as well. If you look in the pic on the right, you'll see three arrows pointing to:

headstockIn the small picture here (click to zoom), notice the lowest arrow to the right shows their original brad that I had sanded down flush with the surface of the neck.

The next arrow up is the new brad sticking out just enough to make an impression into the underside of the fretboard. This is the impression of the brad when sqeezed together after aligning the fretboard to the neck, exactly where I want it.

The reason for this is because when you glue 2 flat objects like these, they tend to slide apart when clamped. With the brads in place, there is no chance of slippage!

Serial number - Lisa January 10th. 2007

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This is the serial number, it's dedicated to my wife as she was giving me a bunch of crap for not working on it while she was in the hospital. The number is actually the date she started her new chance at life. Click to zoom.

 
Fretwork

Fretwork

I have the frets cut and I even pressed one in to see how the fit was. Not bad at all, I might say, as it's not too much compression and a very nice amout of resistance at the same time.

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Fret #1.

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Fret #1 pressed in.

 
Fretwork

Fretwork in detail

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I took a little time today to "nip" and press in the rest of the frets but unfortunately I didn't photograph the layout procedure so you'll have to use your imagination for that .

First, I rough nipped the bottom ends of the frets so that they hang over the binding without the tang getting in the way. As you can see, it's not very smooth until I grind away what's left after using the cutters.

 
Fretwork

Dremel jig

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Here you can see my crude little dremel jig that use to grind the underside of the end so that it fits flush on top of the binding. It has a slot cut in so that the tang of the fret can just slide right up to the edge of the grinding wheel.

Fretwork

Fret press

I started pressing them in with my percussion press. The reason I really like this little press is because it's actually spring loaded and acts as a hammer when pressure is applied and "knocks" the frets in very nicely. Hence the term "percussion press" lol!

fret press guitar

All done for now!

 

Fretboard radius

Don't you have to sand the fretboard to give it a radius? Could you please give me some information about that.

Absolutely.....first off let me tell you that you can buy pre-radiused and pre-slotted fretboards which would save you a lot of time and headaches. Unless of course you'd rather learn that but I would practice on scrap if you've never done it before. What I did was make a radius template of 12" and hand sanded the fretboard using a long flat bar of steel and constantly checking my radius as I went along.

Let me back up a bit for you though, I created reference lines with a pencil on all 4 sides of the fretboard so that I could see my sanding progress and it helps to keep your wood removal even all around so that you're not taking too much off of a particular area.

Did that help? Also, make sure you slot for the frets and put in your inlays first as it's a hell of a lot easier but be sure to remember to figure on sanding the radius which means your inlays will be thicker and your fret slots should be deeper.

 

Fretwork

Were you able to use the press to insert the frets around the neck joint, or did you have tap those in with a hammer?

Good call, my friend, I guess I should have explained that a bit better as it's pretty obvious I couldn't get the whole body under that little press right? You are correct, I didn't have a form fitting neckjoint jig so I had to hammer 3 or 4 of the frets in that area sitting the neckjoint into a bag of sand for support. I could do the rest of the upper frets just sitting the body of the guitar on the bench.

Fretdressing

Ok, had a few moments so I decided to bevel the fret ends and thought I'd share a few pics with you. First, the tool is a simple to make tool that I made very quickly instead of shelling out cash to buy one. It's basically a clamp that holds a mill bastard file in which I removed the ends of and polished the 4 corners so that if I slip across the frets (and I did!!), it won't dig into my fret tops.

You'll also notice that I put "lead-ins" on the ends of the file so that it can just slide over the fret ends and not bang into them.

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Just wanted to mention that the bevel is a 35 degree off the vertical.

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Polished corners.

 

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Notice the lead-ins.

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Here is the position I hold the bevel file. The first few passes are tricky as hell as you're just nipping off the ends from the cutter. It doesn't take long before it starts to go smoothly though.

 

Here we have her laid out and ready. I have paper towels over the neckrest because the metal filings get everywhere and I don't want to have those embedded into my neck rest!

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A shot of the fret ends before.

 

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A shot of the fret ends roughed, notice the metal filings.

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And finally a shot of the fret ends cleaned up. Now there will be a final clean up and polishing after I've leveled and crowned them.

Fret dressing

What is the proper way to buff down the edges now that you have filed them all the way to the binding? Those look pretty damn sharp.

Thanks, and yes, they're VERY sharp at that stage. There are a million different ways to go about it and everyone has their own "style" of doing it. You use a series of "safe edge" files to go around the edge of that radius and yes, it's tedious as hell.

I've heard of some guys just taking scotch brite and going along the edge but that's kind of sloppy if you ask me. I'm sure it'll round everything over, but not a very classy look so I'll stick with the old school of deburring them with files but will add my own way of smoothing out file marks left on the fret ends by using an India stone that I normally use at work for deburring hardened steel parts. I guess that would be considered my distinct style now, wouldn't it?

INLAYS AND FRETWORK       « Previous Next » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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