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Thread: Preferred fret setting method

  1. #1
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    Default Preferred fret setting method

    So I'd like to switch to another method of fretwire install other then hammering in. What is everyones preferred method a dedicated fret press with cauls, a drill press with cauls or maybe one of those Stew mac vise grip or stew mac Bessey clamp design? If you could please explain why you like the method you're suggesting.

  2. #2
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    I have several presses in the workshop , but I prefer to use the bench drill press with a caul I made out of a piece of steel bar with a bit of rod screwed in the centre to make a T shape...I like to do it this way co's its its at eye level and and doesn't cost anything.
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  3. #3
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    ive been using the stew mac Jaws 1 & 2- i like em, but they are expensive- but worth it for a professional or repairer etc.

    If i was a hobbyist, id press them in with a normal F clamp and scrap wood

  4. #4
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    A mate of mine has been making some fret press pliers for a couple of years now. I use them exclusively and even got rid of my arbour press with dedicated cauls because these things work so much better.

    He doesn't list them on his website, but if you email him he'll be able to fix you up.


  5. #5
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    Oct 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post
    ...If i was a hobbyist, id press them in with a normal F clamp and scrap wood
    Thanks Beau,
    I'm a hobbyist and I agree sort of - I tap them in with a hammer to get them started and make sure they're straight up not tilted in the slots, then I put the whole fretboard between two very flat same size pieces of hard maple and squeeze it as tight as I can with five or six heavy iron C clamps and leave it overnight. It gets them so level I hardly have to do any filing.

    It leaves a little grooving in the part of the maple that meets the metal frets, and I'll swap them then replace them after a few uses.

    This only works on flat fretboards, of course.

    -Vinnie in Juneau

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen View Post
    A mate of mine has been making some fret press pliers for a couple of years now. I use them exclusively and even got rid of my arbour press with dedicated cauls because these things work so much better.

    He doesn't list them on his website, but if you email him he'll be able to fix you up.
    These look great. Its a shame they are produced half way around the world!

  7. #7
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    I use a press with the StewMac caul.

    I bought a cheaper press online, but by the time I had it drilled and tapped, then got an iron plate for the base, I should've bought the StewMac one.

    I did a workshop the other year at the UGH Exhibition, and I was surprised at how many guys were banging in frets.

  8. #8
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    I used a hammer for 12 years!

    Pressing is soooooo much better then hammering- i used to get finish blowouts on some fret ends with the hammer which sets you back weeks- now i don't ever get that so my $250 JAWS 1 and 2 have paid for them selves.

    I fret after finishing otherwise id be using the arbor fret thingy from stew mac (Mya Moe, Aaron (Kekani) and Chuck moore use this method- i've never been able to fret prior to finishing as i always find my fingerboards need a second trueing after i glue the neck on, even though they go on to the body dead straight.

    I still find i need to use a hammer around the heel area however I use it to push the frets in rather than 'hammer' with it. Around the last frets, i sometimes file some tang off so they slide in super easy. i also use glue on on frets.
    Last edited by Beau Hannam Ukuleles; 03-16-2016 at 10:32 AM.

  9. #9
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    I use a hammer and skill.

  10. #10
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    I also hammer in my frets as I think is appropriate for the Fred Flintstone School of Lutherie. Whack that dang thang! However as a method it leaves a some things to be desired. Such as consistency and this is an operation where you want to be consistent. The one thing it has going for it is that it is pretty straightforward. Pretty much anyone can swing a hammner. The biggest drawback as I see it is that there might be more work down the line leveling and dressing your frets and this no small job. True, if you are good like Duane says, it works just fine and basically really, we are not making rocket engines here. It really ain't that hard.

    If I was to throw my frethammer on the scrapheap of history I would go with Ken's method and turn to my drill press. What I would NOT do is pay the exorbitant prices that suppliers of fretpresses and cauls charge. Unless you are in factory setting, not necessary.

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