Hana Lima 'Ia
>> Ukulele Hints >> How do you fret your fretboards

Message started by unkabob on Oct 20th, 2009 at 5:03pm

Title: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by unkabob on Oct 20th, 2009 at 5:03pm
I have just spent two days preparing, radiusing, sanding and grooving a fretboard to destroy it with frets that would not press in and glue that dried too quickly. The most frustrating part is that new fretwire will take a week to arrive.

How do you guys install frets?

Bob :'(

Title: Re: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by konacat on Oct 21st, 2009 at 12:39pm

I feel your pain.

I have pressed frets and hammered frets but have had difficulties also. The first thing of course is to verify that your kerf is the correct width for the fret size. Maybe the wood just canít compress enough if the kerf is too narrow for the tang width. You can always test this on a piece of scrap so there is not as much at risk. One way to help the tang go in the wood is to use a needle or v shaped file to bevel the edge of the fret slot a bit. This allows you to insert the frets a little easier and it allows the fret crown to seat all the way down as the bottom of the fret crown and the tang are not always at a 90 degree angle. The fret crown will cover the bevel you cut on top of the slot.

I glue each fret as I go and havenít had a problem. I have used both super glue and titebond with good results. If using super glue be sure to use one with enough curing time to install the fret. You can use a little wax on the fret board and then clean out the slots prior to fretting then use a super glue dissolver to wipe any excess off. This avoids the super glue from creating other issues.

My attempts at pressing the frets have not been the best. I only have an old cheap drill press to use and have found that when pressing the fret I get movement in the table. I will have to find some way to support it as you really need to press against a solid surface for good results. Meanwhile, Iím hammering them in. When I hammer frets I always put a little extra bend on the wire. If the fret board is flat I give a little bend on the fret and if its radiused I just over bend a bit. This allows the fret ends to seat well.

Keep us posted on how things are going. We can all learn by sharing information.



Title: Re: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by Hana Lima Ia on Oct 21st, 2009 at 2:21pm
As Philip mentioned, if you're fretting a radiused fretboard it helps a lot to pre-bend the fretwire.† This is a funny little jig that we use to bend the fretwire to different radiuses.† Just an old pencil sharpener attached to a couple washers.† One of the bottom washers is on a slot so you can adjust the bend by moving it up or down:

Title: Re: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by unkabob on Oct 21st, 2009 at 3:08pm

My technique is to cut the slot using a 0.010" kerf jeweler's saw in a miter-box with carefully measured slots for the scale length required.

The board is then radiused using 80 grit paper glued in a 24" dia. pipe (12" radius).

The board is then tapered to fit the neck.

I then draw a 0.023 saber saw (Zona) through each slot to widen it.
A triangular file is drawn across the slot opening to acomodate the crown.

The fret-wire is bent around the 24" dia pipe (forgot to this time) and cut into fret lengths.

I put glue in the slot using a knife point and paint glue on the tang and hamer the fret into place with a soft feced hammer.

When all the frets are installed, I cover them with a radiused caul and a board top and bottom. I use as many clamps as I can find (particularly near the edges) to press the frets in place and leave overnight to allow the glue to harden.

This morning, I had five frets that rolled out of the slots and a couple that are too high and will have to be reset.

I have tried pressing them in using a bottle-capper and a die but that was only marginally successful.


Title: Re: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by unkabob on Oct 21st, 2009 at 3:19pm
I like that design. They use the same principal for rolling custom pipe.
A steel clamping caul would be helpful. I have found that even oak still dents from the frets.

One other detail is that this fretwire was size 148 wire from Stewmac. Using Hana Lima wire has never given me this much trouble on past projects.


Title: Re: How do you fret your fretboards
Post by Quine on Oct 30th, 2009 at 5:58am
Clean out those fret slots first.  Those hook shaped utility knife blades that are perfect for it. 
I always hammer them in.  Just a regular hammer with a scrap wood block so the wire won't get dented. Just start tapping on one end and work over to the other.
Also, I over-bend the fret wire.  Even on flat fretboards.  That helps keep the ends down

Hana Lima 'Ia » Powered by YaBB 2.4!
YaBB © 2000-2009. All Rights Reserved.