Fret end rounding files

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by milocj, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,551
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    Not sure if this is the right section for this question....but....I did a search, and as I expected there were tons of results without a lot of relevant info. I'm also expecting to get different answers here so I'm basically looking to see if one type of file seems more popular or if somebody has an approach that seems to be more my style.

    I have a couple of nice Musikraft necks. One I didn't have to touch and it felt and played great right out of the box. The second (a maple fretboard like the first) had a couple of frets that weren't slotted deep enough so there were some high spots. After leveling those few areas I'm happy with that one as well.

    Now I'm working on the third one. This is a really nice quarter sawn neck with a rosewood board, but it had a fairly "sharp" edge. The frets have a real nice even bevel to them, they're level, and I rolled the fingerboard and removed any fret sprout which now brings me to an issue I haven't had to deal with before.

    The bevel seems almost perfect, and the edges are sharp so I need to round the ends of the frets. This is the one file I don't have and from watching videos I'm not sure if the rectangular file with the skinny ends smoothed out are generally preferred/easier to work with (especially for a first timer) or the triangular file with the three edges flattened.

    Anybody have a preference or a reason/method that makes one better than the other for themselves. It looks easy regardless of which file, but most of the videos are pros who know what they're doing.

    Thanks.
     
  2. dan40

    dan40 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Location:
    Richmond Va
  3. dan40

    dan40 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Location:
    Richmond Va
    A small three sided file with the edges ground smooth will also work just fine if you have one handy.
     
  4. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,551
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    That's kind of funny since the StewMac file linked is what I was considering, but I also have a pretty nice, brand new triangular file that I haven't used since I bought several different good files on a store closeout two years ago.
     
  5. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    4,197
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
  6. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    44
    Posts:
    14,026
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    Nearly any appropriate tool will work in the right hands, so go with what you're most comfortable with. I mostly use the fret end file that dan40 linked. It has super fine teeth that are more like coarse sandpaper than a toothed file. Other times I'll use my diamond crowning file to get most of the work done.

    Whichever way I go, I usually finish with 180 grit sandpaper on a foam pad or on my fingers. If the neck is raw I'll do this as part of the process of rolling the fretboard edges. If it's finished I'll use a metal fingerboard guard to protect the finish.
     
  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    22,582
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Englewood, CO
    JohnS likes this.
  8. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,551
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    I think I'll go for the StewMac version. I expected more variety in the answers, and I could use to my three sided one, but since the SM version got so many good "reviews" I'd prefer not to take my unused (and normally expensive) good file to the grinding wheel. And in this case the StewMac version seems reasonably priced.

    Thanks guys.
     
    soulman969 likes this.
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,761
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Location:
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    I use a small flat rat-tailed file that I ground and polished the edges sm ooth. "$2" solution. It's what I use to bevel the frets, round the ends, and cure any fret sprout. It's more sensitive in the hand than one of those triangular files so you are likely to do less accidental damage.
     
  10. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,551
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    Unless its massive, I do sprout with one of two easy to handle whetstones I have.

    Now I have to do math on whether I buy $40 worth of stuff from StewMac to pay for their year of free shipping.
     
  11. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,248
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    I dunno if they still have them, but harbor freight used to carry these small fine cut files in a set of maybe 5 or 10 with a number of different shapes very cheap. One is flat and has a smooth edge ?(which i smooth even more with wet and dry sandpaper) and works really well like that Erliwine video above. A couple quick swipes on each side of the fret rolling it in an arch and it totally smooths the ends quickly. I can do the entire guitar in about 5 or 10 minutes. The other shapes are also very useful for many things. Been using mine for many years and hove gotten a heck of a lot of use out of them all for something like a couple bucks a set as i recall. (probably 4-5 bucks today if they still have em)
     
  12. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    22,582
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Englewood, CO
    They do and I have some but the fret end file Stew-Mac sells for about $13 is still a far better file for this purpose.
     
  13. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    57
    Posts:
    13,896
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Spring City, Pa
    Cheapie little diamond file.
    Flat...about 5/16" wide with an edge ground flat and buffed.
     
  14. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,248
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    All i can tell you is for me it works as quick and well as i can imagine anything would. 10 minutes and i'm done and it's perfect. Or in other words,theres nothing about it can see improving.
     
  15. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    22,582
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Englewood, CO

    Fair enough but the Stew-Mac version works best for me and I have both. So what did we prove? Nothing other than you like yours and I like mine. I simply offered my opinion based on my own experience just as you did. No need to defend your preference. Use whatever you like.

    Beside the OP already said he was ordering the one from Stew-Mac
     
  16. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,248
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    The point was simply that theres really no way the one i'm using could be improved upon that i can see. But more importantly, there are about 6 or 8 different shapes in that set, a few that are basically flat, and the chance that you're using the same one am (which is not the fully flat one) and sanded the edge smooth like i did s unlikely. So for all you know if you tried what 'm using you may feel different, thats all. Not trying to prove anything just getting the facts straight.
     
  17. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,551
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    I knew that there would be varied opinions. I don't want to ruin my good triangular file when there have been multiple people suggest the StewMac that in this case doesn't seem out of line compared to a $30+ one they have that I didn't think would work as good (and simply looked more expensive to make).

    I've got the Harbor Freight (or equivalent) set...probably more than one. If I only had to do one or two ends on an unfinished board I'd probably go that route, but to me it makes sense to pay $14 for something That's probably better quality and will be used more often.

    For the 6 or 7 months I was laid off years ago, and worked as a service manager and "in the water" repair guy for a relative's boat shop, I picked up any Snap-On tool that would have been of use to me on my 4x4 and motocross bike when the guys bought their newer and shinier versions. Saved a ton and still use them.
     
  18. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,047
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Location:
    Glen Head, NY
    The quarter-round file is very useful for fret crowning and you can go anywhere from softening the bevel to a full-on hotdog rounded end on the fret without marring the fretboard. I find it easier than a safe-edged three-corner file, but there are other uses for the triangular file (like knocking off sharp spots on the corner of ABR-1 bridge saddles, or nuts).
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.