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Halo Fret Position Markers / Side Dots - My Method
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Author:  James Orr [ Mon Dec 12, 2016 12:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Halo Fret Position Markers / Side Dots - My Method

I really like the look of halo fret position markers (AKA side dots), but I had some concerns over making them for the first time. Would the tubing oxidize and lose its color over time? How would I fill the center? Would the tubing be difficult shape? Would it sand unevenly compared to the ebony around it? However, after a little trial and error, I was pleased to find out that getting good results wasn't terribly challenging. This is how I did it.

- Dremel with cut-off wheel
- Smooth Cut Mill File
- A little 220 grit sandpaper

- Copper Tubing from Amazon. 1/8" outer diameter with a .014" wall.
- Black Plastic Side Dot Material from Stew Mac

I considered filling the tubing with black epoxy or black dust mixed with CA, but the black rod from Stew Mac was a perfect fit and made the job easy. In fact, I don't think this method would work without it because it kept the copper tubing from deforming when I cut it.

Most people seem to use brass, but I wanted the reddish look of copper. I ordered the tubing four months ago. In order to see how it would oxidize under finish, I did a super low-tech test by dipping a few inches of one in lacquer the day they came. It's been sitting outside on the patio since, and the coated portion still looks great, which is good enough for me.

To prep the fretboard, I marked the locations with an awl, filled the marks with chalk to help me see them, and drilled the holes a fat 1/8" to 3/16" deep with a brad point bit.

Initially I tried cutting the tubing with a tubing cutter, but it deformed the tubing and I couldn't fit the plastic rod in. Then I tried a Dremel with a cut-off wheel, but that left burs that blocked the plastic rod. [headinwall] I finally decided to put the black rod in the tubing before cutting it, and that worked perfectly.

This is the approach I finally landed on:

1. Slide the plastic rod into the tubing.
2. Sand a slight chamfer onto the end of the tube to help it seat in the fretboard (10 or so twists on a sheet of 220 grit sandpaper - nothing major).
3. Press the tube into the hole.
4. Hit it with a shot of thin CA.
5. Cut the tube 1/4" or so proud.
6. Sand any burs off the end of the tube and repeat.

7. Once all the markers were in, I filed them flush with a smoothing file. I tried sanding them down with the dremel, but the heat started to melt or fray the plastic. Filing them down couldn't have taken more than two minutes apiece.

8. Once filed flush, I hit them with another drop of thin CA.




Author:  JoeM [ Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Halo Fret Position Markers / Side Dots - My Method

That's a cool idea! It gives me another idea that similar, check out the "mosaic pins" the knifemakers use to attach handles to knife blades. They make a bunch of different styles in 1/8" (and 3/32") diameters. There are other suppliers with other patterns too.

Author:  JoeM [ Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Halo Fret Position Markers / Side Dots - My Method

Oh - another idea (gotta stop with the coffee for a while), you could use this approach (with either halo or mosaic pins) to do position markers on the fretboard too using a wider diameter tube. This one might be interesting... ... artin.html


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