How true must a fret leveler be?

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by 8barlouie, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I just visited a counter top manufacturer in my town and I acquired a piece of slate 2”X3/4”X16” for a couple bucks. My hope is to apply a strip of sandpaper with adhesive to use it to level frets as opposed to buying the rather expensive StewMac leveling bar.

    When I got home, I checked how true it was by laying my notched straight edge against either side. Low and behold, on either side there is an inch or so of light escaping through the bottom of the edge by the narrowest of margins. How anal retentive should I be with the trueness of the leveler? Is the faint trace of light getting through going to nullify a fret leveling job?

    Thanks for the help. This will be my first attempt and I don’t want to mess it up.
     
  2. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure. Which edge are you planning to use? I'd stand it up using the 3/4 wide edge against the frets. Measure with a feeler gauge, I'm thinking .oo1 gap or less would be good.
     
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  3. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Interesting question. My assumption was that I would use the 2” sides not the 3/4” sides. Should I reconsider?
     
  4. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I assume your fretboard is radiused anyway, so the 2" width may just be more cumbersome. But you do need to move around especially using the 3/4 width, and the wider surface helps (maybe?) with that. Check out how out of flat it is with the feeler gauge, if acceptable, maybe try it both ways. The bar is far more rigid though with the .75 surface on the frets and the 2" keeping it flat.
     
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I wouldn't assume your countertop is flat. That's why there are machined straightedges and surfaces. Something as important as fretwork deserves an investment in a machined surface for the that purpose or something that is flat like float glass. You may get close with some workaround, but if it were me, I'd want something that I know is as flat as I can get it.

    https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Too...MIg4rY5dCF5QIVGovICh1GFwToEAQYASABEgLlx_D_BwE
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  6. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    They should be absolutely true ... If I ever caught one cheating on me, that would be the end of our relationship ...
     
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  7. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Holic

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    In my experience, there is nothing like having a good precision straight edge to use as a standard when it comes to determining flatness or straightness.

    You can check the accuracy of those things that we "assume" to be straight or flat ;).

    Grizzly sells a real nice 24" straight-edge that's machined and ground to .001" accuracy.
    It's a nice heavy-duty piece with one beveled edge.
    Fair price, too -$28 bucks.


    edit: oops, they went up $4 bucks since I bought mine.

    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-24-Bevel-Edge-Straight-Edges-with-Scale/T21579
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  8. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    Since I prefer my action low with minimal releif, I'm going to say it has to be "surgically" close. There is NO room for error in this case.
     
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  9. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Holic

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    The truer the better. Your results are largely dependant on your tools.
     
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  10. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    if you had a good straight machined level with which to check your piece of cast-off kitchen counter-top, you could probably use the machined piece in place of the cast-off counter-top to do your frets. Oh wait, I forgot - this IS rocket science!
     
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  11. ppg677

    ppg677 Tele-Meister

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    I just use a jointed peice of wood
     
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  12. Larryguitar

    Larryguitar TDPRI Member

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    Alternately, you could use the slate but only put sandpaper on the area which reads as truly flat.

    I realize no-cost solutions goes against everything we hobby luthiers believe in, but I'm just throwing it out there. :)

    Larry
     
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  13. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Mark the bad spots on the slate. Take it back to the shop and have them cut off the bad section. You should end up with a perfect piece that's long enough to do the job. Don't concede a few thousandths of accuracy when you can get it right.
     
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  14. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Thank you for all the replies. After further rumination, I think I’m going to break down and get the leveler from you know who. Under $60. I’m not gonna McGyver this thing.
     
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  15. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    In a situation like this, you need to be sure that the notched straight edge you are relying on is really straight before concluding where the problem may lie. Short of taking it to a machinist, as a quick test you can just rotate it, ie measure your slate with the straight edge one way first, then turn it the other way round and measure again. If it suggests the slate is not flat in exactly the same place both ways, then the slate indeed probably isn't flat (or the straight edge has a perfect bow). ;)
     
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  16. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If the piece was leveling your frets without any movement I'd say there's cause for alarm. Because this piece requires motion I think you'll be ok. Don't overthink it. As someone mentioned, the discrepancy could be your straight edge. A minuscule amount of light wouldn't bother me.
     
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  17. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    Nothing worse than a lying straight edge!

    As said, they need to be straight. The question is, which item is not straight. The notched straight edge or granite? I would also use feeler gauges to see just how large the gap is.

    Eric
     
  18. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    The straightness depends on how level you want your frets.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    Hand planes with soles that aren't perfectly true can still get a very smooth and even surface. You want it very straight, but keep in mind that when you just see the faintest sliver of light between two surfaces, it is typically on the order of ten-thousandths of an inch. The human eye is super sensitive to strong light differentials. I level mine with an 18" level I bought and checked using my precision straight edge (same as one linked in the grizzly post above). With SM, you are sure to get what you ordered, but you do pay a premium for it. Is that worth it to you? Only you can decide.
     
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  20. Antmax

    Antmax Tele-Meister

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    This guy got into trouble with only one of the three edges being slightly off on his fret rocker. Hard lesson learned.

     
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