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View Full Version : Gluing the ends of frets to binding strips.



ChuckBarnett
07-30-2018, 05:34 PM
Spent one week preparing for and then a week at a junior age summer Bible Camp. Life-changing stuff both for the 9 through 11 year olds and for me. :-)
But I have managed to finally get some frets into this fretboard. Now I'm to the point where I need to clean it up and ensure that the frets will stay in place.
From what I read one can dab a little CA glue at the ends and then put pressure down to press these in tight against the Binding strips. You can see from the picture that some of these are up. It's possible that they're up because I took too much material off of the underneath side. I probably will be able to fine tune that in the future but for now I simply want to try to get them glued down. Robbie O'Brien in building guitars, uses a caul to put pressure on the outsides ends. He's using radiused calls because he's working with radius fretboards. I opted to do this one flat for my first.

How do you do it? And once again, thank you so much!

Ken Franklin
07-30-2018, 09:54 PM
Your assessment is correct Chuck. You have removed too much material from the underside of the fret ends. Since the rest of the fret looks seated no amount of reasonable pressure could seat the ends without deforming the shape of those ends. That can make leveling the frets difficult. There isn't any glue I know of that will hold down the fret ends on some of the gaps that you have, in the long run. Good fretwork takes time to master. That's no comfort to you right now. Working with a light colored board is even more difficult.

Generally I slightly over radius the frets before I install them so that the ends seat well. I glue in the frets as I go with thinned Titebond which helps with humidity changes. I use excellent magnification and lighting when I'm filing the underside of the ends. That's for future reference.

To solve your problems now, you have a couple of options. You can remove the most offending frets and try again. You risk chipping out the frets though and it's tough to repair them without the chips showing. Or you could force some sawdust that's the color of the bindings under the ends and wick in some super thin CA. A lot of people wick in a small amount of CA after they have installed their frets as a general rule and wipe with acetone immediately. That should work for a lot of your ends, just not the bad ones. Others will chime in on what works best for them. Frank Ford has some advice for unbound fretboards at http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Frets/FretTrouble/CALooseEnd/calooseend.html Good luck.

mikeyb2
07-31-2018, 06:09 AM
I think I would try clamping a hard wooden caul over the frets leaving the ends exposed, then carefully tap them down with a small metal hammer. You could experiment on a piece of scrap first, to see if it works. Nickel silver frets are relatively soft so this might work, not so with stainless steel or evogold. I've never tried this, but you never know.

ChuckBarnett
07-31-2018, 09:54 AM
Thanks, guys for the ideas!. This is the gold fretwire (from LMI) so it may be too hard to shape as you suggest, mikeyb2. May be worth a try, nonetheless.

Ken, I think I'll try the sawdust and CA glue idea. Someone recently said something about a shelf-life for CA glue. Is there something to that?

Chuck B

Timbuck
07-31-2018, 11:10 AM
Just pull e'm out and put fresh ones in ..with the correct rebate :2cents:

ChuckBarnett
07-31-2018, 11:26 AM
I like the straightforward simplicity of that answer! I'm betting there are tricks to pulling frets? Special tools? This is a maple fretboard and from what I've been hearing that's a little bit of a challenge?

sequoia
07-31-2018, 05:29 PM
Hmmm... this is what I'm thinking... The fret ends don't look that much proud so just level them with a radiused sanding caul and hope it doesn't take too much off the ends. If that doesn't work (which it will), pull the frets and put in new ones with like Ken says. But I like to think this fret job can be rescued.

Michael Smith
07-31-2018, 06:18 PM
It almost looks like the frets themselves are not all the way seated like the slots are not deep enough. Could be an illusion due to the shine but it looks wrong from here.

Ken Franklin
07-31-2018, 09:28 PM
I like the straightforward simplicity of that answer! I'm betting there are tricks to pulling frets? Special tools? This is a maple fretboard and from what I've been hearing that's a little bit of a challenge?

You can buy some fret pullers from Stew-Mac or get some hardware store nippers and grind the end flat. Start at one end of the fret and work your way across. Hold the pullers tight to the board.

jcalkin
08-01-2018, 02:44 AM
You are trying to do work that is way over your skill level, Chuck. Replacing the frets is your best bet, but if you get any chip-out you'd best start over with a dark, unbound fretboard. I realize that you are after an elegant instrument with all the bells and whistles, but a well-made, simple instrument shines when placed next to a fancy but fudged up job.

ChuckBarnett
08-01-2018, 05:09 AM
I certainly agree with the concept of doing simpler and nicer over attempting to much and doing it poorly. I've seen that and don't care for that. And I certainly agree that my skill level is lacking. But I am learning. :-)

I slipped feeler gauges in and found that the ends with tangs removed were routinely about .003" off the surface. I was able to remove the frets by slipping a single edged razor under the end and gently prying, and then using a thin knife to get it up the rest of the way. Somehow I have next to zero chipping.

Ordering more wire and will get it right this time. 😊

sequoia
08-01-2018, 05:49 PM
the ends with tangs removed were routinely about .003" off the surface.

Good going on getting the frets out without chipping Chuck. More than I can say sometimes... Did you figure out why the fret ends were proud in the first place? You don't just want to recreate the problem all over again with the new frets :wallbash: This is also part of the learning process: Making the same mistake over and over again until you learn not to do that again . Been there!

The other possibility is that the glue you used to glue the binding seeped in the fret slot just a little bit. I've had this happen on a few fret slots before but never over all the frets. Getting out that little bit of glue is not a fun or easy process but it can be done. I learned to not let it happen in the first place. Another possibility is that the fret ends were not ground enough and there was a little residual tang left. I use a cut-off wheel to grind the ends down flat. Just nipping off the tang ends is not enough. Always leaves a little bit of metal which which needs to be ground off. No big deal with a dremel and a cut off wheel. Zip, zip, zip! Wear eye protection!

Good luck Chuck and I salute your attention to detail and gumption. Good luck!

sequoia
08-01-2018, 06:22 PM
Sorry, just thought of a third possibility: The tang was not cut off far enough back. Leave about a mm of tolerance so the tang ends don't hang up on the binding when you seat them. Give yourself some error room. Also gives space as the fretboard dries out and contracts. Don't want it lift the frets...

I actually enjoy this part of the building process and it really isn't that hard once you goof a time or two. Below are some pictures of some bound fretboards I did which I will shamelessly show off. :uhoh:

By the way, Beau posted a trippy video of fretting a bound fretboard a while back.

110904110905 110906 110907 110908

Ken Franklin
08-01-2018, 09:31 PM
I certainly agree with the concept of doing simpler and nicer over attempting to much and doing it poorly. I've seen that and don't care for that. And I certainly agree that my skill level is lacking. But I am learning. :-)

I slipped feeler gauges in and found that the ends with tangs removed were routinely about .003" off the surface. I was able to remove the frets by slipping a single edged razor under the end and gently prying, and then using a thin knife to get it up the rest of the way. Somehow I have next to zero chipping.

Ordering more wire and will get it right this time. 😊

Glad you got them out without chipping the fretboard. Does make me think that the slot could be a little wide for the fret tang though. Might want to glue them in if that's the case.

mmn
08-01-2018, 10:21 PM
... Someone recently said something about a shelf-life for CA glue. Is there something to that?
Yes, once it's opened it doesn't last long. Test it on some scrap before using.

ChuckBarnett
08-02-2018, 06:54 AM
Thank you, Michael! I also heard or read that you want to keep it in the refrigerator?

ChuckBarnett
08-03-2018, 04:26 AM
Good going on getting the frets out without chipping Chuck. More than I can say sometimes... Did you figure out why the fret ends were proud in the first place? You don't just want to recreate the problem all over again with the new frets :wallbash: This is also part of the learning process: Making the same mistake over and over again until you learn not to do that again . Been there!

The other possibility is that the glue you used to glue the binding seeped in the fret slot just a little bit. I've had this happen on a few fret slots before but never over all the frets. Getting out that little bit of glue is not a fun or easy process but it can be done. I learned to not let it happen in the first place. Another possibility is that the fret ends were not ground enough and there was a little residual tang left. I use a cut-off wheel to grind the ends down flat. Just nipping off the tang ends is not enough. Always leaves a little bit of metal which which needs to be ground off. No big deal with a dremel and a cut off wheel. Zip, zip, zip! Wear eye protection!

Good luck Chuck and I salute your attention to detail and gumption. Good luck!

In preparing for installing frets on a bound fretboard I settled on the LMI fret tang filer tool. Didn't really want to spend that money, but the Stewart MacDonald fret tang nipper couldn't handle the narrow frets that I wanted to put in this fretboard. I set that tool up thinking that I was okay and obviously I was taking too much material off of the underside of the fret, beyond the tang. I have now adjusted that so that on the second go-around I won't be having that problem.
I did have some squeeze out in the front slots. Didn't see a real good way of cleaning that out, although I got some of the worst cleaned up with a hacksaw blade cut off at an angle. One by one I inspected each fret slot end and reduced the tang width accordingly. That seemed okay. I will certainly do a better job cleaning those slots up next time!

Once again, I thank you for your observations and encouragement!

ChuckBarnett
08-03-2018, 04:30 AM
Sorry, just thought of a third possibility: The tang was not cut off far enough back. Leave about a mm of tolerance so the tang ends don't hang up on the binding when you seat them. Give yourself some error room. Also gives space as the fretboard dries out and contracts. Don't want it lift the frets...

I actually enjoy this part of the building process and it really isn't that hard once you goof a time or two. Below are some pictures of some bound fretboards I did which I will shamelessly show off. :uhoh:

By the way, Beau posted a trippy video of fretting a bound fretboard a while back.

110904110905 110906 110907 110908
I didn't try to get the ends of the tangs flush against the binding strip but the 1 mm tip sounds good. Thanks!

ChuckBarnett
08-03-2018, 04:36 AM
Glad you got them out without chipping the fretboard. Does make me think that the slot could be a little wide for the fret tang though. Might want to glue them in if that's the case.

I had a circular saw blade milled down to 23 thousandths of an inch for the purpose of slotting fret boards. This is a reputable company and I do believe that I also checked to see that it was accurate. The LMI fretwire 37053 asks for that slot dimension. There was a little pulling up where each of the barbs came up through but it doesn't seem to extend very wide and I believe that a new fret will cover that. I may try thin CA glue along the edge of the frets when they are installed.

Thanks, Ken, for the help! :-)

mmn
08-03-2018, 07:25 PM
Thank you, Michael! I also heard or read that you want to keep it in the refrigerator?

I've heard this too, but I think it's only if unopened. The thin stuff goes south pretty fast. Environmental factors are at play, how much it's opened, how long, etc.

Ken Franklin
08-03-2018, 09:24 PM
I did have some squeeze out in the front slots. Didn't see a real good way of cleaning that out, although I got some of the worst cleaned up with a hacksaw blade cut off at an angle. One by one I inspected each fret slot end and reduced the tang width accordingly. That seemed okay. I will certainly do a better job cleaning those slots up next time!

Once again, I thank you for your observations and encouragement!

Stew-Mac has a hooked blade that fits an Exacto handle. Works best on fresh glue though.

Timbuck
08-03-2018, 10:21 PM
Stew-Mac has a hooked blade that fits an Exacto handle. Works best on fresh glue though.

A piece of hot copper wire can remove CA glue out of a fret slot..but don't breathe the fumes as it sizzles. :) should work on other glue as well I suppose.

Jardin
08-04-2018, 02:45 AM
I have found that the CA glue keeps better if put in an airtight container and then in the fridge.....It seems to last a bit longer anyway.....

Good job being persistent Chuck...one more hurdle behind you...
You will reap the rewards soon!

ChuckBarnett
08-04-2018, 05:38 AM
A good trick! I think that the worst slot-end on this fretboard may have to mm of hardened Titebond. Many of them are much better than that.

ChuckBarnett
08-04-2018, 05:41 AM
Good job being persistent Chuck... one more hurdle behind you...
You will reap the rewards soon!

I believe you are right, but I've done my best to drag this out as long as possible. 😉

ChuckBarnett
08-06-2018, 06:52 AM
My second 4 feet of fretwire arrived and I have cleaned up this fretboard by sanding incrementally to 400 grit. John Hall of Blues Creek Guitars suggests using Titebond to help with fretting. He's doing a Rosewood fretboard in his video. I am working on bird's-eye maple. Once again, I pulled the frets I installed the first time so that I could do it right the second time. 😉

Someone suggested to glue these in and I'm willing to do that. I'm a little concerned about cleaning up glue at the edges of the frets. I've seen video from others who use CA glue by running a fine bead along the front on the nut side. I'm open to suggestions and opinions on this. Don't plan to do this a third time... :-)

Timbuck
08-06-2018, 07:56 AM
My second 4 feet of fretwire arrived and I have cleaned up this fretboard by sanding incrementally to 400 grit. John Hall of Blues Creek Guitars suggests using Titebond to help with fretting. He's doing a Rosewood fretboard in his video. I am working on bird's-eye maple. Once again, I pulled the frets I installed the first time so that I could do it right the second time. ��

Someone suggested to glue these in and I'm willing to do that. I'm a little concerned about cleaning up glue at the edges of the frets. I've seen video from others who use CA glue by running a fine bead along the front on the nut side. I'm open to suggestions and opinions on this. Don't plan to do this a third time... :-)
I quick bead with thin CA and wipe off with a rag soaked in acetone.

ChuckBarnett
08-06-2018, 09:50 AM
Thank you, Ken.:D

sequoia
08-06-2018, 06:16 PM
I actually never glue in my frets and have never had a problem (yet). I like to think of the repair guy (gal) down the line after I'm gone will not have to pull glued in worn frets. Be kind to the repair person. I figure this is why frets have tangs. My frets go in tight and need no stinking glue. If I did use a glue, I would not use Tightbond. Aliphatic glues to not glue to metal. A drop or two of CA and you are glued. Good luck getting them out without tearout. This is where a soldering iron comes in handy.

ChuckBarnett
08-06-2018, 06:53 PM
Ken Franklin suggested I might consider gluing them in given that I had pulled the first batch out. That might have made the slots a little bit sloppier.

Ken Franklin
08-06-2018, 09:25 PM
I actually never glue in my frets and have never had a problem (yet). I like to think of the repair guy (gal) down the line after I'm gone will not have to pull glued in worn frets. Be kind to the repair person. I figure this is why frets have tangs. My frets go in tight and need no stinking glue. If I did use a glue, I would not use Tightbond. Aliphatic glues to not glue to metal. A drop or two of CA and you are glued. Good luck getting them out without tearout. This is where a soldering iron comes in handy.

A lot of repair guys do heat the frets with a soldering iron when pulling frets. Pretty easy.

The Titebond doesn't stick so well to the metal but it does stick to the wood making it harder for fret tangs to loosen when the humidity changes. I thin it which helps the wood swell a bit and doesn't leave a lot in the slot. I've used CA too with the acetone wipe. Works fine if you have pipettes.

ChuckBarnett
08-07-2018, 07:04 PM
Got frets in successfully and ran a bead of thin CA glue along each and wiped best I could with a paper towel and acetone. I filed the tang nearly away meaning I didn't take off material from the underside of the crown. I figured a little pounding into the binding at the feet ends is better than having a void of any sort between binding and fret ends as before.

Now to address flattening them and shaping -yet another new and scary thing. :-)

Timbuck
08-07-2018, 08:15 PM
Now to address flattening them and shaping -yet another new and scary thing. :-) Do that on the neck :)

Ken Franklin
08-07-2018, 09:41 PM
Do that on the neck :)

+1 on that.

ChuckBarnett
08-08-2018, 02:52 AM
Thanks, Ken. I thought of that after I sent that post...

(By the way, I P.M.'d you re: my 10-20 drum sander. )

Timbuck
08-08-2018, 05:45 AM
Thanks, Ken. I thought of that after I sent that post...

(By the way, I P.M.'d you re: my 10-20 drum sander. ) Hi Chuck..you said you was going to send some photos ..But I never got them at my end

ChuckBarnett
08-08-2018, 06:26 AM
Couldn't figure out how to attach them so I emailed them to you. Check email, perhaps check trash or spam? Thank you, Ken

Timbuck
08-08-2018, 06:44 AM
Couldn't figure out how to attach them so I emailed them to you. Check email, perhaps check trash or spam? Thank you, KenDid that still can't find em.

ChuckBarnett
08-08-2018, 07:25 AM
I just resent to timmsken@hotmail.com. If that doesn't fly, I'll simply post on here as a reply.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-08-2018, 07:32 AM
Before I set my frets I will wax the board with Renaissance Wax. After I press the frets in I will prop the board against something at a 45 degree angle and touch the tip of a pipette to the upside of the fret and release a couple of drops of thin CA to it. The wax repels any residual glue there might be and if there are a few beads of glue leftover they are easily removed by dabbing with a paper towel.

ChuckBarnett
08-08-2018, 07:57 AM
The idea being to avoid getting glue where it doesn't need to be? And you don't run a bead but just a couple of drops (toward the ends I presume)? You thus have no need for Acetone I'd guess.

Looks like that wax is in paste form. Does it then serve as a finish for the fretboard?

Thanks, Chuck!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-08-2018, 08:12 AM
The idea being to avoid getting glue where it doesn't need to be? And you don't run a bead but just a couple of drops (toward the ends I presume)? You thus have no need for Acetone I'd guess.

Looks like that wax is in paste form. Does it then serve as a finish for the fretboard?

Thanks, Chuck!

Yes, yes, yes and yes!