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Cutting fret slots

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Laren, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    Hi Guys,

    Cutting fret slots. I've just been listening to Ben (Crimson Guitars live stream) and he says to cut your fret slots after you've radiused the fretboard. This because it's easier to cut on the top of an arc than across a flat board (especially with fretsaws that don't tend to clear the cutting very well).

    Part 2. Now all the fret slot cutting jigs I've seen (including Crimsons) just cut flat. So, surely, if you cutting deep enough by the time the edges are deep enough then the middle will be much deeper than you need whereas you'll need a 'radius' cut wouldn't you?

    I cut mine on a homemade jig while the board is flat then radius the board. It leave me enough of the fret slot to recut afterwards giving me a radiused cut.

    Anyway, your thoughts boys and girls.

    Happy building.
     
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  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    I cut mine while the fretboard is still flat and square too.
     
  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I saw after radiusing but before tapering....less work...less chance of tear out on the slot using a radius jig. There are lots of different ways to get to the end result. Do what works best for you and gives you the result you want.

    I've always done a straight slot in every fretboard I've made. I set my saw to go a hair deeper than the fret tang. There is no re-sawing if things are set correctly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  4. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    Just out of curiosity can you get fret slotting jigs that enable you to cut a radiused slot? Can't say I've seen one.

    My point is that if you cut into a radiused fretboard deep enough so that the edges are cut deep enough then the cut going through the middle will leave a gap underneath the fret?
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Laren, I do not normally radius or slot my boards, I buy them that way from my supplier. The one thing that I am very careful to do however is check each slot all the way across with a piece of the same fretwire I will be using that I've filed the barbs off. I want to make sure that the slot is completely clean and the fret does not bottom out. Its particularly important with refrets and bound fretboards, but after any sanding there is always some crud left in the slot.
     
  6. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    I cut the frets in kind of a labor intensive way - and I do it this way because 1) I want to be able to get all the markers in exactly the spot I want them and 2) I don't want any dead spots on the neck. And this works for me every time and I have a few jigs to make this less work.

    I keep my jig set up where the slotting jig only controls where the slot is placed and the depth stop on the saw controls how deep. When I start the cut on each fret I do an inward stroke from each side to avoid tareout.

    1) I cut the slots flat first - before radiusing using the same depth as the tang on the fret plus a little more.
    2) Then layout, drill/route all the places where the markers/dots go then position all the markers and epoxy them in
    3) Then, I use a router to radius the fretboard - I do this very slowly while the router is taking down the position markers, then about 3 passes taking 1/64" to 1/32" at a time: This allows me to use the same process for any kind of marker and works really well for things like Aluminum and Brass where sanding that material ends up grinding metal into the fretboard
    4) Then, I use a sanding block to take off any marks that the router might have left: If I'm using metal dots then I clean the surface a lot more than if just plastic dots
    5) Then I recut the fret slots using the depth guide to make the fret slot match the curve of the fretboard in my slotting jig - using the previous slots as a guide. This has been a great way to avoid dead spots across the entire neck. I'm sure that cutting the slots flat is fine, but I think doing it this way avoids dead spots.

    This has a few extra steps I think are important - one way to make this process a little faster would be to just radius the fretboard first, cut the frets a little deeper than needed (~.01 - .02"), then put in the position markers, then use a radius block to do a final leveling of the whole thing.
     
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  7. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    I ...

    1. Cut mine flat
    2. Add any markers, 12th fret logo
    3. Radius
    4. Stick on neck
    5. Band/Route down to neck edge
    6. Use the fret slots left as a guide and cut in the radius to the slots

    Seems to work for me but, as we know, plenty of ways to skin a cat - as the saying goes.
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I suspect there are a million fretboards cut with an air space under the center of the frets.... and I'd like to see the data that shows that is bad..... IE stewmac and LMII systems.
     
  9. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    I use 'No More Nails' in the fret slots, not to glue them in but just to fill any air gaps. Does it matter? I've no idea :rolleyes:
     
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  10. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep - there is still a gap to fill even it they are cut on a curve - I just use CA glue until it stops coming out.
     
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use a couple of drops of either medium CA or HHG to both lubricate the slot when I press the fret in and to help old it. I let a little bit wick under the ends when I do a bound board to help seal it. I figure anyone refretting one of my boards will use a bit of heat to loosen the glue.
     
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  12. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Friend of Leo's

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    I do thusly:

    - Rough cut slots
    - Radius
    - Taper
    - Inlay
    - Use depth stop on fret saw to cut radiused fret slot even depth
    - Bevel fret slots with triangle file
    - Bind (if necessary)
     
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  13. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bingo!
     
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  14. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Meister

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    I radius/slot/taper, but my fret saw has a stop that allows it to follow curves accurately. I hate fretting.
     
  15. TN Tele

    TN Tele TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I've been cutting them with a stewmac table saw blade on a fretboard blank, nice clean cuts but lots of post cutting labor later on. Currently I am experimenting on using my cnc to cut the fret slots as well as radius the fretboard. A few more tweeks and I should have it. I will keep everyone posted.
     
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  16. 1bad914

    1bad914 Tele-Afflicted

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    Stew Mac blade in an old DeWalt radial arm saw. Mark, saw, radius.
    992F4E21-5052-4C74-999E-C953F4C09611.jpeg F8216856-FE36-4FC9-8F75-70006431293F.jpeg
     
  17. pypa

    pypa Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    If I hand cut them I cut when the board is flat and square. It’s easier to MARK a flat board. I mark with a knife. Cutting in this score line is easy.

    then I cut again after the board is radiused.

    If you make or buy a depth stop for your saw, you will be able to re cut to depth along the radius.

    after doing a few of these though, now I just buy the boards pre-radiused and slotted. It’s fun measuring and cutting the first couple.
     
  18. 1bad914

    1bad914 Tele-Afflicted

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    I guess I should have finished my comments. I don’t cut them much anymore either. I buy them pre-radiused and fret slots cut. Just less time consuming, plus once you have done it a few times you realize it is worth the $$ to buy them.
     
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  19. pavel

    pavel Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I use the old SM fret slotting miter jig to cut a radiused slot, works well for me. I just use the the acrylic depth sloth and set the miter jig jaws accordingly. The saw travel is shorter, but still works fine.

    IMG_4074 copy-1.jpg

    Here I'm slotting a burst board, but for F-style builds I do the same with fingerboard glued on (or with one piece maple necks, of course). I set the depth slot to get the tiniest clearance for the fret tang.

    I'm not going to tell you I can hear any difference in the tone or get more sustain, but it's easy enough to do and it's how it was done back in the day, so I figure why not do it that way.
     
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  20. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep, me too. I do every fender neck like a one piece with a head adjust... I love that design, plus gluing the fretboard on is easier than gluing a separate finished fretboard.
     
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