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Old February 18th, 2012, 08:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Stew Mac aluminum radius sanding beam for fret work?

I am doing a couple builds and just thought I would take the guitars to a tech for nut and fret work. But the more I look into it the more it seems I can just do it myself.

Would this sanding beam be the best tool to level frets? What else am I going to need?

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Old February 18th, 2012, 08:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am doing a couple builds and just thought I would take the guitars to a tech for nut and fret work. But the more I look into it the more it seems I can just do it myself.

Would this sanding beam be the best tool to level frets? What else am I going to need?
No. I would recommend a flat sanding beam. In addition to a long flat sanding beam, i would recommend a quality crowning file. Have you checked out Ron Kirn's Fret Leveling your tele thread?
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Old February 18th, 2012, 08:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No. I would recommend a flat sanding beam. In addition to a long flat sanding beam, i would recommend a quality crowning file. Have you checked out Ron Kirn's Fret Leveling your tele thread?

+1 http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-tech...ele-101-a.html
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Old February 18th, 2012, 08:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I read the thread by Ron and have some questions.

It seems that the aluminum block would work and I can get 180 grit sand paper for it (there are cheaper ways, does anyone know where I can find this stuff besides stew mac?--or I just need the 8" wooden ones for $15). Then I need fret protectors, tape, marker, and a crowning file.

Then after all of that it seems I would run some 320 grit over the frets then polish. I am not a complete newb here but I havent done this kind of work. It seems that its better than paying $75 every time I want this done. I can just buy the gear and do it myself.

I also want to learn about installing and cutting nuts. More research is needed there.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 09:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Looks like I would need the diamond offset fret file as well. So with this equipment is it as easy as taping, marking frets, level, then crown AND POLISHand done?
I crowned nearly 30 necks with the non diamond fret crowning file stew mac offers.

And yes, its as simple as that.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 09:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't bother taping. You've gotta be rushing to damage something in this process.

It's quicker not to rush.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 09:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I read the thread by Ron and have some questions.

It seems that the aluminum block would work and I can get 180 grit sand paper for it (there are cheaper ways, does anyone know where I can find this stuff besides stew mac?--or I just need the 8" wooden ones for $15). Then I need fret protectors, tape, marker, and a crowning file.

Then after all of that it seems I would run some 320 grit over the frets then polish. I am not a complete newb here but I havent done this kind of work. It seems that its better than paying $75 every time I want this done. I can just buy the gear and do it myself.

I also want to learn about installing and cutting nuts. More research is needed there.
If you tape the fretboard, you do not need fret protectors.

If you buy a radiused sanding block, then your crowning file will only work on one radius.

As for sand paper, you can buy rolls of 180 grit paper from a lot of places( I bought mine at Harbor Freight). Then just grab some spray glue. No need for expensive adhesive backed paper.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 09:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't bother taping. You've gotta be rushing to damage something in this process.

It's quicker not to rush.
When my hand tremors were not so bad, I did not tape either, but now I pretty much have to. One thing I do like about taping though is that I can rub some 400 grit over the frets after crowning, then run my buffing wheel over the frets and polish them up super smooth.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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this was all great info. I am building 3 teles and a strat and was going to pay $75 for fret work on each one. Saves me a lot of money doing it this way. I estimate that for $150 I can get everything I need (including a fret bevel for edges).

Now I have to decide if I want to learn how to make nuts, buy pre-slotted bone, or pay $40 per guitar to have one made. What do you think? The only problem with making my own is that there is a large inital invetment of about $200 +$12 per blank bone nut. A preslotted one is $14 and I just need to sand the bottom for height.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have just started doing the leveling, had great sucess and it was easy.
http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-tech...s-ronkirn.html
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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this was all great info. I am building 3 teles and a strat and was going to pay $75 for fret work on each one. Saves me a lot of money doing it this way. I estimate that for $150 I can get everything I need (including a fret bevel for edges).

Now I have to decide if I want to learn how to make nuts, buy pre-slotted bone, or pay $40 per guitar to have one made. What do you think? The only problem with making my own is that there is a large inital invetment of about $200 +$12 per blank bone nut. A preslotted one is $14 and I just need to sand the bottom for height.
Preslotted nuts are more trouble than they are worth in my opinion. Each individual fret slot needs to be filed to the appropriate height and width. When you buy those preslotted deals, you still have to sand the bottom to the appropriate height. Then, you are limited to certain radii, width and string spacing.

You need about 3 double sided nut files, and bone nut blanks are only a few dollars a piece. You can shape them using sand paper. Stew macs spacing rule is a tremendous time saver as well.

From stew mac
3 files x 25$
spacing rule is 21$
bone blank - 4.22$
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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When using a flat level compared to a radius one how do you keep the radius with a flat level? Or are you only filing down so much that the radius stays correct?

I ask bc I might just get the 24" level so that I can do different radius'
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Preslotted nuts are more trouble than they are worth in my opinion. Each individual fret slot needs to be filed to the appropriate height and width. When you buy those preslotted deals, you still have to sand the bottom to the appropriate height. Then, you are limited to certain radii, width and string spacing.

You need about 3 double sided nut files, and bone nut blanks are only a few dollars a piece. You can shape them using sand paper. Stew macs spacing rule is a tremendous time saver as well.

From stew mac
3 files x 25$
spacing rule is 21$
bone blank - 4.22$
I was looking at this from stew mac... It includes a .1 saw, 4 files, ruler, feeler gauges, shaping files, and a vice for $197

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Sp..._Tool_Kit.html
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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When using a flat level compared to a radius one how do you keep the radius with a flat level? Or are you only filing down so much that the radius stays correct?

I ask bc I might just get the 24" level so that I can do different radius'
When you file, you want to scrub in the direction that the strings lay on the neck. It will naturally follow the radius or compound radius of the neck. Since you have marker on the frets, you can see your progress as you go. So as your see material being removed in one spot, you move to the next. When leveling, material is moved so slowly, its hard to make too many mistakes if you are taking it easy.


If you really want to get into technicalities, a fret board is not a true constant radius because the nut and bridge spacing are different. NickJD has reported some cool math and pictures to illustrate this.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:26 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Lots of good tutorials out there.
http://www.guitar-mod.com/rg_fretlevel.html
http://www.liutaiomottola.com/constr...etDressing.htm
http://www.frettech.com/fret/index.html
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Old February 18th, 2012, 10:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I was looking at this from stew mac... It includes a .1 saw, 4 files, ruler, feeler gauges, shaping files, and a vice for $197

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Sp..._Tool_Kit.html
I will post a thread in a few days on how to make nuts without some of these, IMHO, frivilous nut tools. The saw, in my opinion is worthless for making nuts. I fell for the advertising and bought one. its ways to agressive. Chips bones, and cuts way to quickly. The shaping files, again IMO, are just money making product for stewmac. The spacing ruler on the other hand is a very nice product, and the nut files are indespensible.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 11:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I will post a thread in a few days on how to make nuts without some of these, IMHO, frivilous nut tools. The saw, in my opinion is worthless for making nuts. I fell for the advertising and bought one. its ways to agressive. Chips bones, and cuts way to quickly. The shaping files, again IMO, are just money making product for stewmac. The spacing ruler on the other hand is a very nice product, and the nut files are indespensible.
I agree completely. I start my slots with an xacto saw, and follow up with the gauged files. Everything else is a waste of money, except for the nut spacing ruler. it's cool, but you can get the job done without it.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 01:14 AM   #18 (permalink)
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wow, glad this came up i was gonna buy there nut kit and get the lmi fret kit.. will get the lmi fret kit.. nut files, and a drill press vice and a nut ruler. im so glad i have not spent any money on tools like i was laning on at the first of the month.. was gonna do a few tools each month.. more ilearn, the more i see i only really need a handful of good ones, rest are just profit for stew-mac.
this month im just gonna get some 3/4 MDF so i can finish off a project i have all the parts too a bar top arcade machine. i built a full size mame arcade for my self sis wants a bar top model.. with left over mdf will make templates. thats this months purchase for this new adventure im on. :) i may pick up a fretboard slab tooo if i find something i like pop up at local wood store or ebay give it a couple of months to acclimate. i fond a box full of material ill use for nuts i used in the pass for knife handles corian stuff. i have some in cool colors and what not. so that w ill save me some money.. plenty of material to learn with which has long been paid for. ebay.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 01:35 AM   #19 (permalink)
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this was all great info. I am building 3 teles and a strat and was going to pay $75 for fret work on each one. Saves me a lot of money doing it this way. I estimate that for $150 I can get everything I need (including a fret bevel for edges).

Now I have to decide if I want to learn how to make nuts, buy pre-slotted bone, or pay $40 per guitar to have one made. What do you think? The only problem with making my own is that there is a large inital invetment of about $200 +$12 per blank bone nut. A preslotted one is $14 and I just need to sand the bottom for height.
I've been using corian for all my nuts during the last three years. Stuff cuts like a dream and makes a fine nut material, IMO. Gibson seems to think so too, for they are featuring corian nuts on many of their guitars lately.

You can get all the corian you need, free for the asking, from your local Home Depot. Simply go to the design center (where the fancy kitchen cabinets and countertops are) and ask for a few off-white corian samples to take home. You should come away with several in off-white colors like bone, "bisque", etc. They are 2" squares a half-inch thick. I've got a coffee can full of them. I've even got one in seafoam green
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Old February 19th, 2012, 01:23 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I've been using corian for all my nuts during the last three years. Stuff cuts like a dream and makes a fine nut material, IMO. Gibson seems to think so too, for they are featuring corian nuts on many of their guitars lately.

You can get all the corian you need, free for the asking, from your local Home Depot. Simply go to the design center (where the fancy kitchen cabinets and countertops are) and ask for a few off-white corian samples to take home. You should come away with several in off-white colors like bone, "bisque", etc. They are 2" squares a half-inch thick. I've got a coffee can full of them. I've even got one in seafoam green
Is it soft? How are you cutting it to a nut shape? Are you still using the same files for slots?
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