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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 2:20 pm 
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Hello,
When I level new frets with a leveling beam, the first few frets (1-5) get sanded down more quickly than the last frets (16-21). I guess following the string paths, this makes sense due to the board taper.
This seems to be typical for me.

I’m sanding down new frets to mimic fretless wonder (very low frets).
I tried running the frets over my large aluminum radius block, and the first frets are going down much faster than the last frets. I planned to take most of the frets off with the radius beam and then follow up with the beam.

Is this normal, or is my technique bad?
Thanks guys,
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Last edited by dzsmith on Mon Jul 25, 2022 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 2:40 pm 
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I’m not sure I’m understanding your ‘first’ and ‘last’ frets reference. I’m thinking first frets are maybe 1 through 10 while last frets 10 through 24 or whatever. If that’s the case then it’s just that the last frets are closer together so there’s more metal to cut.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 3:01 pm 
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It has nothing to do with board taper. The frets are round on the top and your first passes remove the material easily. The more you remove, the wider the fret becomes with even more material to remove. Literally - the farther you go the more work you are doing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 3:02 pm 
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SteveSmith wrote:
I’m not sure I’m understanding your ‘first’ and ‘last’ frets reference. I’m thinking first frets are maybe 1 through 10 while last frets 10 through 24 or whatever. If that’s the case then it’s just that the last frets are closer together so there’s more metal to cut.


Steve

Yes, about first and last frets.
Interesting about more metal to cut. I never though about that.
Thanks

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 3:09 pm 
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Chris Pile wrote:
It has nothing to do with board taper. The frets are round on the top and your first passes remove the material easily. The more you remove, the wider the fret becomes with even more material to remove. Literally - the farther you go the more work you are doing.


Chris,
The first few frets (1-5) get wider faster than the last few frets (16-21).
Does this make sense?
Dan

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 4:09 pm 
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Is your beam long enough that it hits all the frets simultaneously?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 4:20 pm 
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joshnothing wrote:
Is your beam long enough that it hits all the frets simultaneously?


Yes, the beam is long, and contacts all frets while sanding.

I’m puzzled, but maybe I really don’t have an issue?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 4:22 pm 
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If you used a cylindrical board radius, then sanding along the string paths should remove the most material from the middle frets and away from the center of the board. In other words, there is an apparent hump due to the string cutting across the cylinder at an angle. Initially the sanding beam will want to tip back and forth over the center of the hump, so probably your technique has resulted in tipping toward the nut end. Check with a straightedge to see if the last frets appear to be too low. If that is the case, then use a shorter sanding block to take some material off just the middle frets before continuing. Otherwise you'll probably just start grinding a new straight line tipped in the opposite direction.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 5:03 pm 
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DennisK wrote:
If you used a cylindrical board radius, then sanding along the string paths should remove the most material from the middle frets and away from the center of the board. In other words, there is an apparent hump due to the string cutting across the cylinder at an angle. Initially the sanding beam will want to tip back and forth over the center of the hump, so probably your technique has resulted in tipping toward the nut end. Check with a straightedge to see if the last frets appear to be too low. If that is the case, then use a shorter sanding block to take some material off just the middle frets before continuing. Otherwise you'll probably just start grinding a new straight line tipped in the opposite direction.


That makes sense. I question my ability to see if the top of the frets are in the same plane using my precision straight edge. I have not cut too much so far. Fret 2 measures .037” above the board, fret 20 measures .046” from the top of the board. I have no idea if my board is precisely straight.
I already know my fret rocker is not flat. (One edge rocks, another does not at the same location).
I’ll continue checking the fret plane to see if I get a hump. I can feel if my straight edge teeters.
Thanks


Edit: I checked and I do have a hump in the middle.
I checked my leveling beam and it is not perfectly flat.
I was dumb not to check it. I’m going to hone it flat.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 6:56 pm 
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actually
A did you prep the fretboard first?
When I do frets the first thing I do is prep the board so it is true , If I have to adjust the rod to get it dead flat
that had to be done.
when fretting be sure you get them seated. I do this by breaking the corner of the fret slots with a small pillar file
I use water and a dab of tite bond ( this works like a lubricant ) and softens the end grain so the barbs seat better,,

allow a little time for the wood to take the barbs then I use a black magic market to mark the frets.

I prefer a straight machined bar but use what you feel comfortable with. And DO NUT USE A LOT OF FORCE be sure the neck is supported

If you don't support the neck the neck will bow and guess what part of the neck moves the most ???? Yes the top 5 frets so don't be aggressive let the weight of the bar do the work. I use 400 and 600 grit for roughing the fret level process.

Once I see that I have leveled the frets it crowing and polish. I think you may be overly aggressive causing some neck flexing of not getting the fretboard true..

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These users thanked the author bluescreek for the post (total 3): TimAllen (Sat Jul 30, 2022 12:17 am) • dzsmith (Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:28 pm) • Sasamat&Trimble (Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:17 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 7:24 pm 
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More metal. Frets above the 12th are twice as close together as those near the nut. I have never used full length files or sanding blocks to level frets. I spend more time leveling on the higher numbered frets to achieve the same height throughout


Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:31 pm 
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John Arnold wrote:
More metal. Frets above the 12th are twice as close together as those near the nut. I have never used full length files or sanding blocks to level frets. I spend more time leveling on the higher numbered frets to achieve the same height throughout


Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

Thanks, I assumed all frets would be leveled at the same rate.
This explains what I’m seeing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2022 8:33 pm 
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bluescreek wrote:
actually
A did you prep the fretboard first?
When I do frets the first thing I do is prep the board so it is true , If I have to adjust the rod to get it dead flat
that had to be done.
when fretting be sure you get them seated. I do this by breaking the corner of the fret slots with a small pillar file
I use water and a dab of tite bond ( this works like a lubricant ) and softens the end grain so the barbs seat better,,

allow a little time for the wood to take the barbs then I use a black magic market to mark the frets.

I prefer a straight machined bar but use what you feel comfortable with. And DO NUT USE A LOT OF FORCE be sure the neck is supported.

If you don't support the neck the neck will bow and guess what part of the neck moves the most ???? Yes the top 5 frets so don't be aggressive let the weight of the bar do the work. I use 400 and 600 grit for roughing the fret level process.

Once I see that I have leveled the frets it crowing and polish. I think you may be overly aggressive causing some neck flexing of not getting the fretboard true..


Thanks,
I follow the same steps as above.
My leveling bar is laminated Maple and Mahogany. Very light weight.
I need to re-hone it dead flat again.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 12:29 am 
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Quote:
My leveling bar is laminated Maple and Mahogany.


Wood MOVES. A LOT.

Use metal or glass. I use metal files, or a sandpaper file with a glass sole.

https://imgur.com/MHmzULC

https://imgur.com/uK0XZrh

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 2:20 am 
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I set the neck straight initially, mark and then hit lightly with the beam with 220 paper. I just want to see where I am going to hit in this pass, that's all. Once I see where the frets are high, etc. I can adjust the rod again and start the leveling process. I may adjust the rod several times during the process to achieve a level fret plane for 1 - 12 and then add fall-away after the 12. As mentioned here prior we add relief using hand pressure and a technique with the head stock.

Dan you are in for a nightmare experience if you want to take .020" or so off the height of the frets. My own personal Strat we had our apprentice mill down the frets .015" because I wanted low frets on this Strat and it took nearly three days and hours to do. It was a nightmare and in hindsight I can do a complete refret in 5 hours, should have done that instead. I still feel bad that I asked our apprentice to do this and it's been 8 years now. Anyway sorry Link.

What Jon said on the closer the frets are together the slower the progress in milling them down.

If you are also trying to reduce height by that much be sure to check the radius often because it's easy to flatten things out too much. Consider a refret though it's faster or should be,

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 2:22 am 
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dzsmith wrote:
Chris Pile wrote:
It has nothing to do with board taper. The frets are round on the top and your first passes remove the material easily. The more you remove, the wider the fret becomes with even more material to remove. Literally - the farther you go the more work you are doing.


Chris,
The first few frets (1-5) get wider faster than the last few frets (16-21).
Does this make sense?
Dan


So to be clear here there are two reasons why your first few frets get wider faster.

1). You may have the rod adjusted to hit the first few first and we use the rod to hit where we wish when doing this and

2). They are farther apart and as such faster to mill down than the extension frets.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 7:10 am 
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I guess I level frets a bit differently than some. I mark the tops of all the frets with black marker. As the marker is removed from the frets at the peghead end I quit filing them and move the sanding beam down the board to level the next frets, and so on. This may add a slight amount of "fall away" to the fret plane, but if the board was reasonably flat to start with and the frets are seated properly this won't be noticeable, and it keeps me from over filing the tops of the frets.
Starting out with the right size fret wire would also be helpful. I recently needed to buy a size I don't normally use to replace a couple of frets on a friends guitar and located a source on eBay (bitterroot guitar) who stocks many sizes in small quantities (enough to refret a single guitar). Here is a size that may work for you - a bit bigger than StewMac's mando wire:
https://www.bitterrootguitars.com/fret- ... 15-5pk.htm



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 7:48 am 
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Thanks guys,
I had no idea the frets near the head would sand down faster than at the heel due to frets being closer together at the heel. Sorry I did not understand Chris.
I’ve made 60 guitars without understanding this.

I reckon I’ll finish the leveling and wrap this one up.
Luckily I stopped before going too far and I can recover.

I’ll use the mandolin wire on my next build to attempt the fretless wonder.

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Last edited by dzsmith on Tue Jul 26, 2022 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 8:07 am 
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bliss p
Clay S. wrote:
I guess I level frets a bit differently than some. I mark the tops of all the frets with black marker. As the marker is removed from the frets at the peghead end I quit filing them and move the sanding beam down the board to level the next frets, and so on. This may add a slight amount of "fall away" to the fret plane, but if the board was reasonably flat to start with and the frets are seated properly this won't be noticeable, and it keeps me from over filing the tops of the frets.
Starting out with the right size fret wire would also be helpful. I recently needed to buy a size I don't normally use to replace a couple of frets on a friends guitar and located a source on eBay (bitterroot guitar) who stocks many sizes in small quantities (enough to refret a single guitar). Here is a size that may work for you - a bit bigger than StewMac's mando wire:
https://www.bitterrootguitars.com/fret- ... 15-5pk.htm


Thanks Clay,
That looks like the perfect fret to use!
Dan

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2022 8:36 am 
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I have a few fret jobs coming up in a few weeks and will try and post some pics.

If you are taking more than a few thousandths off you may need to look at your process. The more you prep the less work in the end.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2022 2:10 pm 
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John Arnold wrote:
More metal. Frets above the 12th are twice as close together as those near the nut. I have never used full length files or sanding blocks to level frets. I spend more time leveling on the higher numbered frets to achieve the same height throughout


Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk


John,
I bought a 6” level beam and worked my way down the board.
The fret heights above the board are now consistent.
I checked the fret plane using a precision straight edge and a fret rocker.
It all checks out.
Thanks for this suggestion, I plan to do this from now on.
Dan

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