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Old August 27th, 2011, 05:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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fret end file bevel angle question

(5 nouns in a row! English rules!)

I bought a little file from Stewmac to dress fret ends, but I didn't buy the block of wood with the angled slot to hold it, 'cuz, well, I HAVE a bunch of little blocks of wood, and I'd already spent 200 bucks on files (it's amazing how small a box can hold 200 bucks worth of Stewmac files ).

I cut the slot at 45 degrees to the face of the block, but after I finished, it seemed that maybe it would bevel the frets too much, so I thought I'd ask the pros:

What's the proper angle for beveling fret ends?

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Old August 27th, 2011, 05:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have found that 45 degrees works well on regular to vintage sized frets. In the 80's, when super tall frets came out, I changed that angle because the taller the fret, the more material is removed at 45. It was almost 1/16" on each side. I think I went to 55-60 for those necks.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 06:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The beauty of doing it yourself is you can choose the correct angle for you.

Personally I don't like the string slipping off the side, so I level the end of the fret against the edge of the fretboard, parallel to its wood, and then round the top corner of the fret into a smooth bullnose.

Me, I'm not a fan of rounded-over fretboards and deeply bevelled frets.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 08:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The tricky part of doing it myself for the first time is not knowing what's right for me, and it's hard to judge the angle on the fretboards of my guitars. The necks that are most comfortable to me are rolled at least a little bit, whereas this Warmoth boatneck has really sharp edges, so I think I'll bevel the frets a bit. I certainly don't want to take off too much, though, so maybe I'll go with a conservative 60 degrees.

Thanks for the advice guys!
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Old August 27th, 2011, 08:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I cut the slot at 45 degrees to the face of the block, but after I finished, it seemed that maybe it would bevel the frets too much, so I thought I'd ask the pros:

What's the proper angle for beveling fret ends?

Not knowing what you like, take a block of wood and cut a different angle in each face...30,35,40,45. Start at 30, then progress to 35...which is common and the angle SM uses for their files. Still not enough, go to 40 or 45. One of these will feel good to you. When you find the magic bevel, make a proper file holder at that angle.

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Old August 27th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The StewMac fret beveling file has the file set at 35 degrees. That's how I made mine. That's 35 degrees from the vertical ......... 55 degrees from the horizontal or fretboard.

I made mine from a mill bastard file I purchased at Lowes. I cut off the tang and cut it into two pieces. As I recall, Dan Erlewine discusses making the beveling file in his guitar repair book.

......
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Old August 27th, 2011, 08:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I usually use a big ol' mill file (the cheap kind from Home Depot, not the expensive kind from StewMac) and run it down the edges of the fretboard to get them generally smooth at a little greater than 45 degrees. I use the longest mill file I could find, about 13". Periodically, I grasp the neck, slide my hand up and down, and pretend I'm playing. If it needs more filing, I do more. Once it feels comfortable, I stop. Then, use the fiddly little files to smooth and round the ends of each fret; that's the tedious part.

For that, I use a cheap set of needle files I picked up at a yard sale; StewMac's a great company, and I do a lot of business with them, but I'm not paying over five bucks for a file. Life's too short.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 11:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I just eyeball it with a file.




I like around a 35-45 degree bevel, with really rounded fretboard edges.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 03:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I just eyeball it with a file.




I like around a 35-45 degree bevel, with really rounded fretboard edges.
Yep, me too, but I generally use a whetstone. Takes a little longer than with a file, but it gives me more surface area to hold onto.



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Old August 27th, 2011, 03:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The nice part of the jig is the consistancy and if you file enough away you start to knock off the sharp edge of the fretboard. Followed up with sandpaper, this gives that warn in feel to the fretboard edge. A third benefit is that the end of the fret isn't right on that same edge so you don't feel it as much when your hand is sliding by. Don Teeter is the guy that came up with the jig back in the late 70's as far as I know. It is in his Guitar Repair Vol 1 or 2 which is still available.

http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Guita.../dp/0806128143
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:22 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Deleted double post .......... again.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Well, I was wrong again. In his guitar repair book Dan Erlewine tells you how to cut a 10 in. smooth mill bastard into a 3 and a 6 in. fret leveling file. Adding the wooden handles must have been my idea after seeing the StewMac beveling files.

......
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Old August 28th, 2011, 05:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Made one!

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Old August 28th, 2011, 06:21 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Neat'o! Very smoothly done, that's inspired me to make one this week.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I forget who prompted me to make it this way, but if you do this you have a 90 degree edge to flush the ends, and then a bevel in one tool.

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Old August 28th, 2011, 07:53 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Great idea Nick. Guess that why you get the big bucks.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 08:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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With a 90 degree don't you risk under cutting the neck because of the pitch of the frets ?
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Old August 28th, 2011, 08:28 PM   #18 (permalink)
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The 90 degree side is pushed against the fretboard and is used to get the fret ends flush to the fretboard.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 08:45 PM   #19 (permalink)
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First place I ever saw one of those was in Don Teeter's 1976 book, "The Acoustic Guitar."

There are better books now, but in its day...
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Old August 28th, 2011, 09:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I forget who prompted me to make it this way, but if you do this you have a 90 degree edge to flush the ends, and then a bevel in one tool.

Yep - that's exactly the way I made mine - I saw that on A Project Guitar page a few years ago:
http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/beveltool.htm

You don't need to cut the file ends off, I bought some long, cheap, Irwin files and just clamp them against a brick (or a vice will work great too) and whack the ends off with one hard blow, The metal is so brittle the ends will just break off like they were ceramic. I also make leveling files using the same kind of idea and just epoxy the squared off file to a 1"x2" piece of lumber. It's good to have really long ones (8-10") as well as some shorter ones. I generally just use the long ones - lots of light strokes and checking every 2-3 strokes... that'll get the job done.

It's one of those tools that is easy to make. What I do is I make the neck about 1/16" wider and use between 30 and 40 degrees - it's a nice feeling neck that is somewhere between a Fender and a Gibson with a 2 1/8" string spacing.
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