Re-fret Troubles!

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by ETP4, May 15, 2021.

  1. ETP4

    ETP4 TDPRI Member

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    Hi, I'm having some serious difficulty with a re-fret job I've got on the go. I'm working with an unbound tele neck radius 9.5" rosewood fretboard. I removed the original frets, cleaned the slots, repaired any chipping from the rosewood and proceeded to install jumbo fret wire (not stainless or anything special, just standard material) by Stewmac. I used a fret bender to shape them to the 9.5" radius of the neck (even using a 9.5" radius sanding block to check them). After hammering in the fret wire I noticed the ends weren't seating in correctly.

    I tried pouring #20 medium super glue by Stewmac down the side of the neck through each fret slot, with the other side of the neck masked off to avoid any dripping. Then, clamping down with the radius sanding block. I removed the block and clamps after about an hour only to find that they still haven't been seated fully and are now glued in solid as they are. This is my new predicament.

    I then tried re-clamping and touching the sides of the frets with a soldering iron at 480 degrees Celsius and holding it in place hoping to heat and melt the glue and have the pressure from the clamp seat the frets in. This didn't work either.

    I tried the same thing again but this time with a singular fret press and caul, incase the height of the other frets was preventing me from pressing down each individual fret I was working on. Again, still didn't work.

    I'm out of ideas now. The first method I explained worked with the same issue on a previous project I worked on and I don't understand why it isn't working now. Any advice/ tips help, I'm desperate for it!

    Sorry for it being such a long post, just trying to be as descriptive as possible.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  2. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I bend the frets to a smaller radius than the fretboard (say 9"), especially if the board edges have been rolled.
     
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  3. ETP4

    ETP4 TDPRI Member

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    In hindsight you're right, I should've done that and I certainly will for next project I do, but that doesn't help for the new predicament I'm in at the moment.
     
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  4. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    The best thing to do now is start over, I can't see any other way that you haven't already tried.
     
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  5. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    It could be that the fret slots are slightly too wide for the tangs and because of the radius of the board they are lifting at the ends
    What also does not help is cutting frets to fit i know people do not like to waste material but if you have a decent over-hang it seems to help seating the frets

    If the glue has already set and it did not fix the issue you don't really have an alternative other than to remove them and start again
    Use the thicker type of super glue it gives a longer time scale press the fret ends down with a flat head screw driver and spray activator on the glue while keeping the pressure
     
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  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I always put two rods and a caul down the neck with clamps to hold the fret ends down. Then I add superglue to the fret ends. You will get drips which will need to be scraped off later. I use a razor blade or xacto knife. Fretting and refretting is an artform in itself. Having the right size slot for the fret tangs is critical. My first dozen fret jobs were less than ideal.

    superglue.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  7. ETP4

    ETP4 TDPRI Member

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    Well thankfully I only glued 7 out of the 21 frets so I wouldn't have to pull out all of them. However, if you're right about the slots being too wide then pulling them out is just going to do more damage and widen them even further. Or would applying thicker super glue make up for that?
     
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  8. ETP4

    ETP4 TDPRI Member

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    The tape really holds the rods in place from being pushed out the sides by the pressure being applied on top?
     
  9. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It sounds to me like the slots are too big. Did you resaw to clean them or something?
    The CA glue is helpful but should hold the fret after a minute or so.
    I like the fret wire radius to be a touch tighter but have often fretted when not that way. Something is not gripping.
    You may find some fret wire with bigger tangs.
     
  10. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Use a big soldering iron to heat them before pulling. It also seems to help to not chip the fretboard too for some reason.
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Let this one be your reminder to measure twice cut once!
    The number of necks sitting in woodpiles because a new neck is cheaper than a refret can ease your pain.
    Make the next one perfect.
    As long as the ends are secure and you file off any sharpness, you can play your neck of shame just fine, and will never forget the learning process!
     
  12. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The tape just holds the rods in position until the caul is pressing down. It doesn't require much pressure to press them into position. The force is going down...not sideways.
     
  13. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    CA usually softens with heat. I would try heating the fret ends one at a time with a soldering iron, then clamping JUST THE END flush to the board until it cools. Re-evaluate to see if it pulls back up. Then re-glue the end with CA.

    Acetone will also soften CA, but it will destroy lacquer and other finishes. If you could put a micro-drop just as you added CA, it may soften things a bit until you can get the fret flush.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    How easily did they go in?
    The ends of the slots might have gotten widened worse in cleaning, hard to say without seeing but IMO this neck will cost more labor to make it appear perfect than it will be worth.
    I would not pull them all out but again I'm thinking in terms of 100 necks, not obsessing over one mistake that feels big right now.
     
  15. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I wouldn't pull any of them until you try #13.
     
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My view of a neck is as much how will it be after the first time it get leaned against an amp and falls over, as it is about how is it now on the bench.

    Spending a lot of time gluing down spring loaded fret ends is to me like setting up a guitar with 44 little mouse traps all waiting to be sprung.
    Just sits in my head, the fact that I tried to hide a mistake and made a little time bomb in the process.
     
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  17. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Another thing to consider it the the slots may not be of uniform depth across the fretboard. If the fingerboard has been sanded at all it is possible more wood was removed from the edges of the board. It is also possible that the slots were cut at a flatter radius than the FB, which would also make the slots shallower at the edges.
     
  18. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It boils down to the slots. The frets aren't spring steel - they are soft and quite malleable. Although SS frets may be springier - I have never worked with them. If traditional frets are set/glued firmly into a proper slot, they should stay put.
     
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  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    There is a good chance your fret wire had a deeper tang than the slot, particularly on boards with a lot of radius. I make it a point to check the depth of the slot all the way across with a piece of the SAME fretwire that I've filed the barbs off - if it seats the fret will also

    IMG_6120.JPG

    As soon as the fret is in I check it with an 0.002 feeler blade, if if goes under the crown its not seated and either needs some hammering or pull and redo.

    IMG_6131.JPG


    I use medium CA or HHG every time I install frets. After checking that the crowns are all the way on the board I clamp 'em down while the glue kicks off
     
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  20. ETP4

    ETP4 TDPRI Member

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    I will give the acetone a try and report back with results, thank you! The big concern for me at the moment is just making the glued frets moveable again so that I can then try other suggested methods without having to rip them out
     
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