fret leveling file or beam?

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by braveheart, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. braveheart

    braveheart Tele-Holic

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    I could get a high quality/durable fret leveling file (192x38x8mm) for 30$...

    What's "better" or easier to work with?
     
  2. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    I really like my beam. The weight of the beam does the work as you slide it back and forth.
     
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  3. braveheart

    braveheart Tele-Holic

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    ...so does the leveling file (weight)...have you ever used one?
     
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  4. cgharrison

    cgharrison TDPRI Member

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    Really like my beam
     
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  5. colnago

    colnago Tele-Meister

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    I like the beam as I can change the sand paper to whatever grit I need.
     
  6. braveheart

    braveheart Tele-Holic

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    found this informative vid...
     
  7. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    Nope! Didn't know such a thing existed until now. I saw your dimensions but was trying to picture what such a file could be. Very cool.
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ancient guitar repairmen used files until a dead flat substitute was available. The first being float plate glass with abrasive stuck to it. I'd vote for the beam having leveled my share of frets both ways. I like the fact that the beam is longer.
     
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  9. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Holic

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    Get yourself a 12" aluminum level; one with an I-beam cross section and 1" wide flanges. These things are inexpensive and surprisingly accurate (flat). If you want to dial them in, you can run the flanges over some 220-grit paper on a flat surface plate or a slab of glass.

    And they are insanely inexpensive compared to the beams you get from places like Stooge Mac.

    Like this:
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    Piece of aluminium square section 25x50x400mm. Usually very flat, but run over some 400 w&d sandpaper on very flat surface to be sure.
    For fret levelling, attach 400 grit paper strip from a roll, with double-sided tape.
    I too have seen veteran luthiers using files; with lots of experience, you can obviously make files work. Files do leave more marks, but a diamond fret crowning file will subsequently remove a fair bit of that marked metal anyway. But the fret top will still usually be more marked than with a sandpaper beam, and thus require more post-crowning work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    here's a thread I did a few years back.. it answers a lotta questions..

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-technical/201556-fret-leveling-yer-tele-101-a.html


    But simply ANY good flat beam will do... ideas.. a piece of Corian ... should be two layers thick.. a piece of scrap Granite Countertop.. those guys throw that stuff away.... or the marble threshold Home Depot sells for under 10 bux.... the aluminum level is excellent too... what ya DON'T need is a 60.00 leveling beam sold by the guitar parts/tool suppliers.. although I have to confess I use the one LMII sells because it's what people expect to see in the shop...

    rk
     
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  12. jtcnj

    jtcnj Tele-Holic

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    I went the Home Depot marble threshold route at Mr. Kirn's suggestion in the above thread a few years ago. Works great.

    Great thread, thanks again @Ronkirn .

    Harbor freight has 2 or 3" wide rolls of sandpaper in a few grits + a little 3m spray adhesive - brilliant!

    I cut about 8" off I think it was. Since then I have used the 8" piece to ramp 17 - 2x on a few occasions as well.

    I have done 7 or 8 guitars this way so far with no need for something "better".
     
  13. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    For overall leveling you need a beam. I don't feel it has to be too long though. Not a luthier, but I rarely do a full leveling job. I use a fret rocker and only adjust the ones needing adjustment most of the time. If they are all mucked up requiring heavy leveling, I'd rather spend my time replacing the frets.
     
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    allow me to share..

    People tend to get obsessive about leveling, to no avail... What happens is once the guitar is leveled and returned to "service", it's once again at the mercy of the environment.... Changing temperature and humidity causes the wood to expand, contract, move around... so the precision level job is lost almost immediately...

    Thus the question invariably arises, So why bother leveling at all?

    When the frets are installed, they are forced into slots cut into the fingerboard... the wood cannot be the same exact density throughout the length, thus some frets will get forced down into the surface and seat a little deeper than other frets.. leaving a microscopic variation between the frets' heights relative to each other... Think of a road full of pot holes... It's just a PITA to drive on.. The problem here is your fingers can sense such extremely subtle variants, and make the guitar less of a pleasure to play..

    This is why simply using a ruler to do a setup can result in less than stelar results..

    What leveling does is makes the variations more consistent.. think of a hilly road .. your fingers navigate such considerably easier..

    r
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  15. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    Look up Sam Deeks on youtube for using a truss rod and some stick on sandpaper as a nice fret leveler. His method makes more sense to me than using a beam or file because it follows the curve of the fingerboard rather than filing away more fret material than necessary using a beam or file. The idea came from another guy, but that guy ended up turned it into an unnecessarily expensive proprietary tool.
     
  16. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Meister

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    +1 on this!

    I have an 18" aluminum beam I got online for around $20 (it would be nice to have the heavier steel one but I don't want to pay a mint for it), machined to within a thousandth of dead flat. I use adhesive sandpaper I found at the auto paint supply, stuck to the beam, to level frets and I use the Ron Kirn Method. :)
     
  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Holic

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    If you want to save $$ and make leveling a really simple operation, try the following:

    Place a strip of blue painter's tape on your leveling beam, covering the entire length.

    Cut a piece of sandpaper to the same size as the leveling beam's surface. Flip the sandpaper over and apply a strip of blue painter's tape to cover the back.

    Next, apply a thin bead of medium CA down the center of the blue tape on the back of the sandpaper, and immediately press the beam onto the CA, lined up with the sandpaper. Weight it down for a few minutes so the CA has time to cure.

    What you end up with is a sandwich of sandpaper, tape, CA, tape, and leveling beam. This works like double-stick tape and is cheaper than self-adhesive sandpaper, because you can peel the entire sandwich off your beam, carefully store the strip, and apply a new piece of tape to the beam and replicate the process with a different grit. Once you have several different strips of grits, you can use these for quite a long time, and they are simple to interchange on the beam.
     
  18. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Make sure to avoid bending the guitar neck while leveling. To see what potential problem you are working against ... tune up your guitar on its 'side'/'edge' in playing position. Then lay it flat on it's back and see how far out of tune the guitar is. The neck is bending back in spite of the 125lbs of string pull on the front of it.

    I started with a 6inch file, moved to a granite beam, and then a leveling jig. Each move made a markedly better leveling job.

    You can also look up the youtube sam deeks channel for how he does his 'katana' leveling system, also under string tension.

    .
     
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