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Dec 8, 2022 - 8:44:04 AM
127 posts since 3/7/2011

Unfortunately it looks like I a going to have to dress the fret edges on my beautiful Pisgah Walnut Possum. The fretboard is Persimmon, I live in Colorado so it has shrunk a bit. No way around that I guess. it is just not practical for me to keep the humidity at a high level where I live. I will of course keep the board moisturized but the frets are sticking out and pretty sharp. What are the best tools to do this procedure with? I have purchased a fret dressing file from Stew Mac but that looks like it will take a looong time to do all the frets, I see other file blocks and such being used on Youtube. Speaking of which, which method do the experts here recommend using?
Thanks for advice!

Dec 8, 2022 - 8:50:25 AM
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645 posts since 5/29/2015

Each end has to be dressed with the appropriate tool. It takes a long time. Any competent fretted-instrument tech can do this--frets are frets. File blocks are for the initial shortening and angling of the frets. The hand file is then used to round over the edges and trim back the two corners.

Dec 8, 2022 - 9:08:50 AM
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2632 posts since 6/19/2008

Long time is a relative term. It could probably be done in a half hour, an hour at max. I noticed some sharp frets on one of my instruments yesterday, so I'm in for the same process. Eh, maybe I'll wait until it's unavoidable.

An alternative to a file block is a piece of flat glass with sandpaper glued on (3M Super 77 spray adhesive is good). The main worry is to try to minimize scratching of the fret board side or binding. Use the file block or sandpaper on glass to get the bulk of the metal off. A very fine file is good for the final push.

Dec 8, 2022 - 11:03:01 AM
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beegee

USA

23153 posts since 7/6/2005

I use a mill bastard file to dress the ends flush with the edge of the fingerboard. Then I dress them at 45º with a file block. Then I use a small smooth edge file to dress the little sharp corners of each fret. Follow with a crowning file to shape the end contour. If the frets need leveling, I do that, followed by re-crowning if necessary. Then I polish the frets with 600-800 paper, #0000 bronze wool and finally dress the fingerboard with mineral oil rubbed in with a finger.

Jerry Rosa of Rosa Guitar Works has good Youtube videos of fret work/ fingerboard prep.

Edited by - beegee on 12/08/2022 11:05:47

Dec 8, 2022 - 11:22:10 AM
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77152 posts since 5/9/2007

I use the StewMac fret end files.I did a whole guitar in about 1/2 hour.
Things take as long as they take.Hurrying can cause mistakes.

Dec 8, 2022 - 11:40:15 AM
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1019 posts since 3/23/2006

Another vote for the StewMac (or equivalent) fret end files. It gets dry up here in the Northeast, too. I humidify the room with instruments, but then when we travel I don't have anyone to reliably top up the humidifier.

Dec 8, 2022 - 9:55:25 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5360 posts since 1/5/2005

I use the individual "slab" type sharpeners but this is the kind I'm talking about:

https://www.harborfreight.com/4-sided-diamond-hone-block-92867.html

The plastic edges on them prevent you from scratching/gouging the fretboard and will let you do an entire neck on short order - easy to use, available in many places, economical.

Dec 9, 2022 - 7:59:46 AM

2701 posts since 9/18/2010

I use a flat (check them before buying, many are warped) mill bastard file to file the fret ends down to the edge of the fingerboard at an angle (eyeballed) a little steeper than 45 degrees. After than a small safe-edge flat file to round the little sharp corners. Next is a safe-edge triangular file to file each fret end to a dome shape. Follow that with 0000 steel wool and it's done. No Stewmac special tools involved, just my own modified (safe-edges) files.

Dec 9, 2022 - 8:04:43 AM

2632 posts since 6/19/2008

TO make a safe-edge file, you can use a disc or belt sander (depending on the length of the file) to grind off the teeth on the edge of a file. The edge should be more or less straight when you're done, not wavy like you would get with a drum sander.

Dec 9, 2022 - 1:17:41 PM
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10281 posts since 8/28/2013

There are probably numerous ways to do this job, and numerous tools that work (I've used flat files, sanding blocks, and small jeweler's files, myself).

However, every method I know of involves patience and care. If you think doing this job will take too long, then maybe you should find an experienced person to do it for you. It's no sin to farm out a job you find too tedious.

Dec 9, 2022 - 1:47:59 PM

59975 posts since 12/14/2005

As mentioned above, several times:
Don't rush. Do NOT rush! Eschew haste!

Napoleon was in a rush to conquer Russia; Captain Edward Smith was in a rush to get the TITANIC to New York; Amelia Earhart was in a rush to circumnavigate the globe.
(Sad to note that, had she been successful, she would have landed at the same place where she took off, the same place she would have been if she'd never left.)

Dec 9, 2022 - 3:45:52 PM

77152 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by sunburst

I use a flat (check them before buying, many are warped) mill bastard file to file the fret ends down to the edge of the fingerboard at an angle (eyeballed) a little steeper than 45 degrees. After than a small safe-edge flat file to round the little sharp corners. Next is a safe-edge triangular file to file each fret end to a dome shape. Follow that with 0000 steel wool and it's done. No Stewmac special tools involved, just my own modified (safe-edges) files.


I like the time saved by doing the fret end all at once with one application of the SM end file.

They aren't cheap,but neither is my time.

Dec 10, 2022 - 8:12:27 AM

2701 posts since 9/18/2010

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis
quote:

I like the time saved by doing the fret end all at once with one application of the SM end file.

They aren't cheap,but neither is my time.


It's not the money, I have plenty of over-priced special fretting tools, and it's not the time; it's the quality of the job. I can't do my best with other tools so I go with what works for me.

Dec 10, 2022 - 9:10:30 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1667 posts since 10/15/2019

Anybody got a guesstimate on what it costs to have a decent banjo repair guy do it?

Dec 10, 2022 - 10:20:21 AM
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2701 posts since 9/18/2010

Mill and re-crown is generally $50 to $100, unless you're in the big city.

Dec 10, 2022 - 1:42:32 PM
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77152 posts since 5/9/2007

My StewMac files slotting saws,fret dressers produce excellent results and I'm fussy.

Dec 10, 2022 - 2:44:19 PM
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3220 posts since 2/18/2009

I recall an earlier discussion about this in which Bart Reiter said that it took more time to write up an invoice for the work than to file the fret ends, so when he worked at a music store (I can't recall which one) he didn't charge people to do the job. I'll see if I can find that thread and link to it.

Dec 13, 2022 - 9:30:04 AM

127 posts since 3/7/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

I recall an earlier discussion about this in which Bart Reiter said that it took more time to write up an invoice for the work than to file the fret ends, so when he worked at a music store (I can't recall which one) he didn't charge people to do the job. I'll see if I can find that thread and link to it.


I invested in the proper files and emery boards, did the job myself this morning . About an hour and a half all told. Very pleased with the results and the experience.




Dec 13, 2022 - 9:33:43 AM

127 posts since 3/7/2011

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

There are probably numerous ways to do this job, and numerous tools that work (I've used flat files, sanding blocks, and small jeweler's files, myself).

However, every method I know of involves patience and care. If you think doing this job will take too long, then maybe you should find an experienced person to do it for you. It's no sin to farm out a job you find too tedious.


Please see my post below, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this job actually was and enjoyed doing it, Only took an hour and a half, including a fretboard oil and fresh strings.

Dec 14, 2022 - 5:54:38 AM
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77152 posts since 5/9/2007

Half the fun I have with a banjo is working on it.

Dec 14, 2022 - 5:58:12 AM

127 posts since 3/7/2011

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Half the fun I have with a banjo is working on it.


Yep!!! I agree!

Dec 14, 2022 - 6:11:04 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1667 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Half the fun I have with a banjo is working on it.


These past couple of years I find I spend more time tinkering with banjos than actually playing, learning new tunes, etc.  It's fun.  The banjo is the perfect instrument for people who are born, or aspiring, tinkerers.    Is "tinkerers" a word?  It is now.
Dec 14, 2022 - 6:31:43 AM

77152 posts since 5/9/2007

I graduated Auto Technology at a respected VoTech institute,but didn't pursue that as a career.Working on banjos fills some of that gap.
I feel it helps my playing by having the instruments fine-tuned to my preferences and I never have to wait for a shop to find the time to work on my banjo.I hate being without it or spending money.

Edited by - steve davis on 12/14/2022 06:33:14

Dec 14, 2022 - 6:51:10 AM
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10281 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Eric A
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Half the fun I have with a banjo is working on it.


These past couple of years I find I spend more time tinkering with banjos than actually playing, learning new tunes, etc.  It's fun.  The banjo is the perfect instrument for people who are born, or aspiring, tinkerers.    Is "tinkerers" a word?  It is now.

I tink calling "tinkerers" a word  is stretching it

I am one who doesn't much care for some banjo jobs, but I do like the idea of making a banjo respond the way want it to, not someone else's idea of how it should be set up..

Dec 14, 2022 - 7:31:09 AM
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77152 posts since 5/9/2007

It's very satisfying to get my banjos and guitars playing and sounding exactly as I like.
It's also very satisfying to let someone else play them and say "This plays and sounds great."

Dec 16, 2022 - 6:48:39 PM

Fathand

Canada

12084 posts since 2/7/2008

I built one of these for bringing the fret ends flush with the fretboard edge. It is just a block of wood with a 90 ° and 35° table saw cut on either side. A small file can be put in either one for filing flush then angling to 35° from vertical. They can be bought all over the internet.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTZN5Gdwh4v_6K_GGNkJxHXLpcMSQLBYDGgCw&usqp=CAU

I use one of these for dressing the fret ends after, from Lee Valley, likely cheaper than SM.

leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools...m=60J0205

Edited by - Fathand on 12/16/2022 18:53:24

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