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Fret slots by CNC, band saw, figure saw...

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    78
    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    I'm in the process to start my first neck build and been thinking about my options for cutting fret slots. I don't have a fret hand saw like many here use with a jig, but I do have access to a CNC machine.

    They can scribe all the frets on the board for me, which is already a big step forward in accuracy, but their engraving bit cuts V-slots so won't work for the full slots. Other bits cut too wide

    How does one cut approx 0.5mm fret slots with a CNC router, what type of bit is used?

    My other options for cutting slots are:
    1) Figure saw - very dicey as you can't "fence" the blade really. Anyone used a figure saw like shown below?
    copingsawt.jpg

    2) Band saw - one of the woodworkers I know suggested getting a very fine band saw blade to cut and set up fences to control the cuts. Any one done this?

    3) I'm not buying the Stew Mac fine table saw blade
     
  2. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    733
    May 19, 2014
    North FL
    A miter box and some Japanese style saws could get you there.

    I think the figure saw you pictured would be really really frustrating.
     
  3. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 30, 2011
    Oklamerica
    A coping saw (or figure saw as you call it) is definitely NOT the right tool for the job. You’ll end up with angled slots, which are not good.

    I don’t know of a band saw blade with a thin enough kerf for fret slots.

    Get one of the Japanese pull saws with the correct kerf that matches your fret wire and use a miter box to keep it straight.
     
  4. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Yeah, you want something with a wide rigid blade, ideally a spine on the back, and basically no extra kerf beyond the thickness of the blade.
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
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  6. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    78
    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Thx, any ideas on router bits for the CNC?
     
  7. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    78
    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
  8. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Meister

    443
    Jul 31, 2009
    Toronto
    Cutting fret slots with a CNC is great. They’ll be super accurate, and you can do “blind” fret slots, which stop short of the edge of the fretboard. This makes the board itself a bit more rigid, since you’re not cutting kerfs all the way across the board, and there will be no visible fret tangs.

    You have to go slow, though. Run the CNC spindle at the highest possible RPM and run at a feed rate that produces tiny chips, not dust. This ensures that the bit doesn’t overheat. You also have to take multiple passes, with a depth of cut no more than ½ the diameter of the cutter for each pass.

    But the advantage is you can start the slotting process, then do other tasks while it runs.
     
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  9. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Meister

    443
    Jul 31, 2009
    Toronto
    But unless you are skilled with the setup and programming of the CNC, a mitre box and proper fret slotting saw is your best bet.

    You WILL break bits, and they’re $10 each. Break a few of them while you’re learning, and you’ve pretty much paid for a good mitre box and saw. Unless you’re planning to make a lot of fretboards, doing the fret slotting on CNC might not be worth it.
     
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  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Just buy a batch of them because they will break very easily until you find the sweet spot.
     
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  11. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    78
    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Where can I source $10 bits from if I choose to go this route?
     
  12. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 9, 2011
    Rochester, NY
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  13. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY

    Martin cuts their fret slots this way. On an ebony board, it makes it look like black binding was added along the edge because you don't see the slots or fret tangs. It's a great look.
     
  14. wadeeinkauf

    wadeeinkauf Tele-Holic

    698
    Sep 24, 2010
    Monterey CA
    Unless you are building a multi scale or a one piece neck or you are going to make several necks really consider just buying a pre slotted, pre radiused fretboard from stewMac or LMII for around $30. It is less than the tools you will need and it is tough to do a great job on the first try. I have two different fret saws from LMII on the wall as I have made many multi scale guitars.....For me a guy with just average skills the only way I can get professional results is to use the StewMac thin fret blade with their fret scale template. Broke my heart to pay their price but was worth every cent ...IF you are going to make many guitars. I did see that you said you will not buy that system..and I do get it.
     
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  15. zhyla

    zhyla Tele-Meister

    125
    Aug 30, 2013
    Northern Hemisphere
    I also have a CNC but unless you’re doing many fretboards you’re better off buying it pre-cut or just using a Japanese saw.

    If you do go the CNC route what you’re looking for is a saw blade, not an end mill.
     
  16. RedHills

    RedHills Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    132
    Aug 13, 2018
    Fl
  17. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 9, 2011
    Rochester, NY
    There is no problem using an end mill. Just need to make sure you have the feed rate set low. I run at 10 inches per minute and have never broken one of my feet slot bits. A saw blade set up would be nice but most hobby cnc users are not set up with a saw motor.

    The length of cut on the bit you linked to is to short to fully cut the slot. The bits I linked to above are able to cut the full depth (in multiple passes) and are also less expensive.
     
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  18. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 9, 2011
    Rochester, NY
  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    This is the saw I use for fret slotting, you'll want to put double-sided tape and a strip of wood along one side as a depth stop and to stiffen the blade. Also lightly hammer the kerf out of the teeth to the correct slot width. Less than $10.

    https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-flush-cut-saw-62118.html
    [​IMG]

    .
     
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