Any tips for super smooth fret ends?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by ppg677, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. ppg677

    ppg677 Tele-Meister

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    What I do right now to make the fret ends flush and beveled, before leveling and polishing, is a DIY tool with a flat file as pictured.

    It is playable but the edges are just not quite as smooth as I'd like. Any tips for frets that have already been polished (I can repolish the ends)? I try to use a little handle file to round over the bevel edges a bit but feel like I'm doing it wrong and that the tangs themselves just need to be smoother.

    IMG_20200330_091652.jpg
     
  2. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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  3. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Holic

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    They make special files with safe edges especially for rounding fret ends, then you dress them with sandpaper, it's a tedious process but results in fret ends you won't feel when sliding up and down the neck.
     
  4. OneWatt

    OneWatt TDPRI Member

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    I've used painter's (blue) masking tape carefully wrapped surrounding the front/edge/sides of the neck right up next to those fret edges. Then I gently work with extremely fine sandpaper and then steel wool to finish/polish those edges.

    Yup, tedious. But fairly safe and effective without specialized tools, stencils, etc.
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I just hold a little 6 inch mill bastard file at about 50 or 60 degrees to the ends and take them down flush with the edge of the fretboard. My file has a slight rocker that keeps it from catching on the ends

    IMG_5486.JPG

    Then I lightly round the edges of the ends with a little jewelers file. The silver thing is an old draftsman's eraser shield - ancient technology before computers were invented. You can buy something like it from StewMac

    IMG_5490.JPG

    After that I wrap a piece of 600 or finer grit sand paper in the grove on a fret crowning file and sand out any filing marks. I use steel wool to polish frets, some people use a dremel with buffing compound but it is too easy to damage fretboards and binding.

    There is a pretty good section on my approach to frets at the bottom of the first page of this

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/basic-setup.952636/
     
  6. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    To me this is the easiest. I had issues trying to smooth them off with sandpaper until I got a fret end file. For the tangs I nip them so they are inset in the slot just a hair after pressing/hammering.
     
  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  8. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've always just gone the fine sandpaper route with a sanding block.
     
  9. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Look around for a set of needle files. I found a 9-piece set at Joann's Fabrics of all places. Then grind a safe edge on a couple of them. Works just fine.

    I'm sure Stew Mac sells the same thing for a gazillion dollars. Ha.

    Also, one of these things will greatly improve your workmanship.

    61UqLNFuM8L._AC_UL1500_.jpg
     
  10. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    -I bevel with a file as shown in post #5. BE CAREFUL, pay attention, one slip across the frets and they are gouged.
    -I usually find there are some sharp corners where the fret outside tip is... on either side of the fret. I have not found any good way to remove those other than a tiny file. A shield won't work as it inhibits what you are doing. A possible tiny gouge in the fretboard is possible.
    -The rest of the fret end I use a shield and just 400-600 wet dry paper to smooth the "bevel to fret" interface.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    How about a 120 grit sanding belt?

    IMG_6135.JPG
     
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  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yeahhhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!

    Scary that, but skills bring confidence and the caution of a lack of skills is good too.
    I've used one of those big floor standing stationary units with a suitable metal cutting belt with great enjoyment in shops I worked in, great for boat parts where you fab up or fit bronze and SS parts.
    Never bought one but often use my portable belt sander upside down.
    Not for fret ends though!

    I never use one of those new fangled file holding jigs, learned that stuff in the early '80s where you had to repurpose hardware store files, and I had triangle files because I sharpened my own hand saws.

    My preference is to keep the fret ends beveled pretty steep so the fret stays as wide as possible, allowing the nut string spacing to be wider, leaving more room for fingers on the board.
    The newfangled comfy played in rolled edged fingerboard thing is awful IMO.
    A guitar player is going to have to develop callous to do anything at all with a guitar.

    Rough fret ends and an actual sharp edge on the board is poor craftsmanship, but removing extra material from the durn part of the guitar where the notes are sounded just for a more comfy feel is just crazy!
     
  13. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, what could go wrong? :lol::lol::lol:
     
  14. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Actually it works very well for knocking the clipped off ends down to the edge of the board. Works best on f/b's that haven't been glued to necks yet, but thats how I do it.'

    Another great tool for the ends is the diamond file for filing ski edges. It has a finer cut than the bastard file in my picture above and is more or less "safe". I usually start with the belt, then the file, then the ski file and finally the jewelers file.

    And you all know that the reason you are getting sharp fret ends (besides a fresh new fret job) is that the f/b is getting dehydrated. That is one of the first symptoms and is largely irreversible. When a guitar comes to my workbench its one of the first things I check - you'd be surprised how many guitars have 'em.
     
  16. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Holic

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    Pretty much how I do it. I use a little 4"x1/2"-ish piece of jointed and planed wood that was a cutoff from some project long ago. Just stick my sandpaper to it and use it a bit like a janky file. Lots of weird little cutoffs have found great usage like that on the bench.
     
  17. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Using a magnifier like the one @JuneauMike shows in post #9 would be significant help to most anyone, especially if we're over the age of fifty :).

    Whether we like it or not age takes a toll on our eyes.

    Our fingers will tell us if there are any sharp ends, but it often takes a little magnification to see the problem clearly ;).

    There are different interchangeable lenses available with different powers of magnification.

    Depending on it's power, a particular lens will have a working distance range (focal distance), at which it functions best.

    I use the same old Optivisor that I've had for 25 years. With a 1.5X lens the work distance is about 20", with a 2X its about 10", and with a 3X its about 5".

    Having that bit of extra help from a magnifier makes a big difference in the quality of my fret work; some of us need all the help we can get :).
     
  18. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Holic

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    I take a three corner file and grind the corners smooth --- then you can round over the sharp edge of the fret ends without damaging the fretboard
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  19. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Oh, I misunderstood, sorry. I thought you were jokingly suggesting he round off the fret ends on a belt sander.
     
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