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mwaller
06-23-2010, 02:22 PM
Greetings!
I'm hoping some of you more experienced builders can provide some tips to improve my fret work. I've built two StewMac soprano ukulele kits. Both times, I tapped the frets in with a hammer, and leveled the frets starting with 600 grit sandpaper on a smooth, hard surface.
In the process of leveling, some frets were sanded quite a bit; others less so.
How do I install and/or level the frets in a way that avoids sanding large flat spots on some frets?
Thanks!
Mika

DaveVisi
06-23-2010, 03:28 PM
All I can think of is that you inadvertently seated the frets unevenly, causing some to be noticeably higher than others. Before doing any major leveling, you might try marking the fret crowns with a Sharpie marker and make a few light passes to see which ones are higher, tap those in a little more and try again. You can try Stew Mac's fret rocker or a similar tool to check fret height and catch the overly high ones before leveling. Once you're closer, then you can start leveling for real.

thistle3585
06-23-2010, 04:01 PM
This is one reason that I fret with the fretboard on the neck. Get the neck dead level, then glue the board on and get it dead level then install the frets. I use a thick piece of marble with sandpaper on it to make sure everything gets leveled. If everything is level then you have very little, if any, dressing to do. I prefer to hammer then press mine in. I also prebend the wire prior to hammering it in but that's another topic.

Matt Clara
06-23-2010, 04:56 PM
I use a 1 lb. non-marring deadblow hammer (http://www.harborfreight.com/1-lb-neon-orange-dead-blow-hammer-41796.html). I fret the board before I attach it to the neck, and I do it on my raised concrete porch (or my basement floor if weather is inclement). There is no bounce, and the wide head ensures each fret is settled in completely. I also double check by eye if there's any gap below the wire and above the face of the fretboard, and give those areas an extra thunk.

mzuch
06-23-2010, 05:32 PM
Try the Stew-Mac fret press attachment for your drill press with the flat caul. Fast, easy and amazingly consistent. Very little leveling required. I'll never use a hammer again.

funaddict
06-24-2010, 07:17 AM
I use a dowel in the drill press. I drilled an appropriate sized hole in a scrap of UHMW and glued the end of the dowel in. Before I did that the end of the dowel would split after every 5 or 6 frets. It wasn't a big deal, I'd just cut off the end past the split and chuck it up again. Now with the plastic tip, no splits!
Works great for pressing in the tuning machine bushings, too.
You might want to unplug the drill press!

zdiver7
06-24-2010, 08:54 AM
Cool idea about using dowels in a drill press!

Just ordered myself the stew-mac fret press last night though... :)

Garry Petrisic
06-24-2010, 01:24 PM
You have some good advice on the forum. The secret is to have everything flat and level to start with as suggested by Andrew. I prefer on the neck fretting. It is unusual for me to have any fret levelling to do at all unless the neck distorts slightly when being finished. I use a clamping caul made to the radius of the individual fret board as the final step after tapping them in. If the fret board has a radius, it is important to ensure the frets are bent to that radius. I clamp every fret down individually to make sure they are all seated. Matt is also on the money with eliminanting bounce if you are using a mallet All the suggestions are great. It takes time and experience to master. I am sure we have all gone through the same problems.
Regards Garry Petrisic.

dave g
06-25-2010, 03:33 AM
... the end of the dowel would split after every 5 or 6 frets.

Try an aluminum or brass rod instead.

Timbuck
06-25-2010, 05:04 AM
I use the drill press method with a home made caul thing (a bit of flat steel with a bit of bar screwed in to make it "T" Shaped) to press the frets in...I then place the fingerboard face down on my cast iron inspection table, place a flat piece of wood over it and bash it with a heavy rubber mallet.

curlykoa
07-17-2010, 04:45 AM
Hi again builders!

'Haven't been on since Matt's accident with the router was news, but came today with the "drill press as fret press" idea I found on a website last night. I see that too is old news. For the record, here's the website: a nice one:

http://canuke.blogspot.com/

Recently I've had the rare privilege of studying ukulele with James Hill in his Teacher Certification Program, so this week I'll add teaching a class to my schedule. Other students loved the look and tone of my mango tenor, my sixth instrument, so it won't be long before I'm back finishing two instruments I started after Christmas!

Brido
07-18-2010, 02:10 AM
I just make sure that everything is level at every stage of constructing the neck and fret board; then after they are joined. Then (all things being equal.. I just messed up one fret cut! :( ) the frets should go in level.
I tap the two ends of the frets in first with a small hammer, then the middle, then i press in with a DIY dowel set up. I found that pressing from the start often gave me a "sloping" fret from time to time. Perhaps that was my bad technique.

Vic D
07-18-2010, 07:44 PM
I bend my wire, cut them to size then tap each end in then slam it home in the center, with a ball ping hammer with about 6 layers of blue masking tape on the head. Works pretty good. But I've also made a fret caul out of aluminum bar and oak that I'll put in a press when I can afford one, i don't wanna ruin my 30 dollar harbor freight drill press.

bryanperk
07-21-2010, 10:16 AM
I bend my wire, cut them to size then tap each end in then slam it home in the center, with a ball ping hammer with about 6 layers of blue masking tape on the head. Works pretty good. But I've also made a fret caul out of aluminum bar and oak that I'll put in a press when I can afford one, i don't wanna ruin my 30 dollar harbor freight drill press.

Vic, Harbor Freight has a $44 1 ton arbor press. Thats what I use as a fret press, and it works great. Just a suggestion so you don't have to worry about your drill press.

dave g
07-21-2010, 11:34 AM
Any drill press can easily handle the small amount of force required...

Timbuck
07-21-2010, 11:50 AM
Any drill press can easily handle the small amount of force required...

Here! Here!......British Bollock's ..that translates ( I agwee old Chap a Dwill Pwess will do the job)

Doug
07-22-2010, 06:07 AM
I'm not an expert, but on my last two I used a pair of pliers and some scrap wood for cauls.