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Help! My fretboard is cupped!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by GotTheSilver, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver TDPRI Member

    80
    Jan 4, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Help! I'm on my second guitar build. My first build was done as part of a class. We cut the neck blank, cut the fret board, cut the fret slots and glued the fretboard to the neck all in the same day. If the wood wanted to move, it didn't have much time to do so before it was glued.

    This build is my first one on my own. I am doing inlays on the fretboard and binding it. The plan was to do all of this before gluing it to the neck blank. I thicknessed the fretboard, sanded it dead flat on top and bottom, and cut the fret slots about four days ago. Given the holidays, I did not get back out to work on the inlays until today. After working on it for a while, I noticed that the fretboard is no longer flat. When you look at the short ends, it is cupped, with the edges curving up and the middle being lower. The weather has turned pretty cold (for Houston! ) over the past few days and I don't know if this played a part.

    Is there anything I can do about this short of sanding the top and back flat again? Since the fret slots are already cut, I am afraid of making the board too thin and prone to cracking along the fret slots.

    In the future, do I need to do all of the fretboard work and glue it to the neck blank in the same day? That would be pretty hard considering this is a hobby and I can't spend all day working on it.
     

  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    That is why I like quartersawn fretboards, for the dimensional stability. You could probably benefit from some sort of climate controlled closet to keep your wood at 50 percent moisture content year round.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

  3. One thing I do on my neck builds is test the moisture on the neck and fretboard wood before I use it. The more moisture you have the more chance you will get warping after new wood is exposed to air for drying.

    As far as your current situation, where I live cold weather means running a furnice which drastically drops humidity. The result can be wood changing. In Houston though, pretty cold may still be furnace free & shorts weather for me. If you are running a heater due to cold you might wait until it warms up a bit and see what it does.

    If all else fails, when I have a fretboard go bad in a build, I just run the neck thru the planer until only a sliver of fretboard remains, cut around the truss rod slot & remove it, plane off the remainder of the fretboard, glue on a new one. Before I would do that step I would try to sand your current fretboard down to remove the cupping and see where you are at.
     

  4. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    36
    Oct 22, 2009
    Austin, TX
    It also depends on how much it cups. If it is mild, you can just put some carbon fiber rods in the neck and glue the board on. The stiffness of the neck will keep the fretboard in line.

    If it was me, the first thing I would do is wait for the weather to get back to normal, most of the issue will likely fix itself. Mr. Petty was right, the waiting is the hardest part.
     
    DrASATele likes this.

  5. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 6, 2012
    North of Boston
    Sometimes this is all it takes.
    I have clamped a fret board down to a flat surface and left it there until the seasons changed. This helped on a very dense piece of wenge. I have 2 Bocote fretboards I'll have to do this to as well. Ultimately the wood will do what it wants depending on conditions. Good luck.
     

  6. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver TDPRI Member

    80
    Jan 4, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Thanks, guys. This is actually my second attempt at a fretboard for this guitar. The first one was a really nice piece of ebony. It was my first time using the StewMac fret slotting template, and I did not realize that the pin was so offset from the fret slots. I was half way through cutting the fret slots before I realized I did not leave enough room for the zero fret!!! It was not a total loss, as I have been using that board to practice my inlay technique.

    The first board has been sitting out in the garage next to the second board. While the second board cupped, the first one is still perfectly flat! I hand sanded both of these boards flatness, and really don't feel like doing that to a third board, so I am going to try to make a small drill-powered drum sander like the one shown in this video.

     
    LPTyler and src9000 like this.

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