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Dec 5, 2023 - 10:38:16 AM
836 posts since 12/6/2021

This is just a little tip I picked up and thought I would share it for the good of the order. I am replacing a few worn frets. This is how I removed the old ones: first I used a pocket knife with a slim blade and tapped it gently into the top of the fret with a small hammer just to slightly raise the fret out of the slot. Then, I used a tool that watch makers use (to open up the press fit watch backs) to simply pry the fret out; works great and does not harm the fret board. The tool is the Bergeon 4755 Watch Case Opener Pry Type. It is available from Esslingers (google it). It is a little pricey but it works. This tool sure does work for me but YMMV.
Robert


 

Edited by - TN Time on 12/05/2023 10:39:50

Dec 5, 2023 - 1:42:56 PM

jonc

USA

473 posts since 10/23/2014

did you heat them?

Dec 5, 2023 - 2:42:05 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by jonc

did you heat them?


No, I didn't have to. They pried out fairly easily. The trick to making this tool work is to first tap a thin pocket knife blade between the fret board and the fret to raise one end of the fret slightly so that you can get the sharp edge of the Bergeon tool under the fret so that you can slide it along the fret with a little downward pressure until the fret pops (or slides) out.

Robert

Dec 5, 2023 - 4:45:16 PM

rcc56

USA

5006 posts since 2/20/2016

Most of us use a pair of end-cutters with the face ground flat.
In the old days, we bought the hardware store version and ground them ourselves.
Most luthier's suppliers sell them, and they are tougher and less prone to chipping than the homemade jobs.

Using a pocket knife as an additional aid to pry up a fret sounds risky to me. When I need additional help to get the lifting started, I use an X-acto chisel. Very carefully.

I always use heat. It makes the lifting much easier, and minimizes chipping of the fretboard.

Dec 5, 2023 - 6:05:09 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

Because one of my other hobbies is collecting watches, I have had to learn how to work on watches to keep my collection running; the same reason many banjo players learn to work on their own banjos. So, I already had the Bergeon tool and knowing how well it pried open watch backs I knew it would work on lifting frets, and it does. I can't see how using pocket knife would be "risky." I actually had lots of control over the pocket knife as i went along. I think an X-acto chisel WOULD be risky. I didn't use heat and the lifting of the frets was pretty easy and I had NO chipping of the fret board. But then again, I am truly blessed and any project I take on always seems to end on a positive note and turns out to be successful.
Robert

Edited by - TN Time on 12/05/2023 18:18:26

Dec 5, 2023 - 6:16:22 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

I don't have a lot of job specific luthier tools, so i have to be innovative. Sometimes you just have to dance with the one you brought.
Robert

Dec 6, 2023 - 2:14:05 AM
Players Union Member

rmcdow

USA

1379 posts since 11/8/2014

Esslingers is out of the tool currently. Jules Borel has it, and at a lower price.
julesborel.com/products/tools-...ner-lever

It is an easy tool to make if you are used to making up your own tools. If you are careful not to burn the steel, you can start with an old 3/16" drill bit (any size will work, depending on the size you want your "pry bar" end of the tool to be, and shape it at the non-flute end with a small grinding wheel on a Dremel or Foredom flex shaft. Mount it into 4" piece of dowel, drilling the dowel then sticking the flute end of the drill into the dowel with some epoxy to hold it in place. You can likely duplicate a close enough version of the tool with the picture on the website selling the tool.

Dec 6, 2023 - 6:05:56 AM

RBuddy

USA

1790 posts since 7/2/2007
Online Now

Success pulling frets on one fretboard is unfortunately not proof of concept for the practice of removing frets on different instruments with different fret board wood, age of wood, tang slot width, whether glued in or not, etc, etc, etc. There are a lot of potential variables that can spoil your day pulling frets.

Sometimes they come out easy without chipping and sometimes they are a bear.

End nippers are used because they help hold down wood while lifting the fret to help prevent chipping. Heat is used to soften glue if used and release oil from the wood to lube the removal. These are accepted luthier practices for a reason. Prying with a mini prybar and pocket knife is risky business even if it works great on occasion.

On problem fretboards I've had success tapping a safety razor blade under the fret edges to hold down the wood almost the whole width of the fret.

Dec 6, 2023 - 6:25:09 AM
Players Union Member

DRL777

USA

278 posts since 12/12/2021

Is it common practice to use thee tension rod to make the fretboard flatter?

I've seen use of a soldering iron to gently heat the fret enough to help the glue let go in cases where there's glue.

Dec 6, 2023 - 6:37:53 AM

Slogo

USA

102 posts since 7/28/2022

My flat faced end nippers plus a little heat has been working good so far, but thanks for the tip of putting a flat razor under the frets of a problem fret board. A good trick to remember.

Dec 6, 2023 - 8:46:02 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

Esslingers is out of the tool currently. Jules Borel has it, and at a lower price.
julesborel.com/products/tools-...ner-lever

It is an easy tool to make if you are used to making up your own tools. If you are careful not to burn the steel, you can start with an old 3/16" drill bit (any size will work, depending on the size you want your "pry bar" end of the tool to be, and shape it at the non-flute end with a small grinding wheel on a Dremel or Foredom flex shaft. Mount it into 4" piece of dowel, drilling the dowel then sticking the flute end of the drill into the dowel with some epoxy to hold it in place. You can likely duplicate a close enough version of the tool with the picture on the website selling the tool.


Thanks for the update.

Robert

Dec 6, 2023 - 9:07:16 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

836 posts since 12/6/2021

quote:
Originally posted by RBuddy

Success pulling frets on one fretboard is unfortunately not proof of concept for the practice of removing frets on different instruments with different fret board wood, age of wood, tang slot width, whether glued in or not, etc, etc, etc. There are a lot of potential variables that can spoil your day pulling frets.

Sometimes they come out easy without chipping and sometimes they are a bear.

End nippers are used because they help hold down wood while lifting the fret to help prevent chipping. Heat is used to soften glue if used and release oil from the wood to lube the removal. These are accepted luthier practices for a reason. Prying with a mini prybar and pocket knife is risky business even if it works great on occasion.

On problem fretboards I've had success tapping a safety razor blade under the fret edges to hold down the wood almost the whole width of the fret.

 


I have not used my method on only ONE banjo, but on several. It works for me, but probably not for you. BTW, I have used the single edge razor blade also just to get things started. I don't see how this can be considered "risky business." Hey, that would be a great title for a movie. I am doing this on my own banjos only. I am not in the luthier business. Once you get the fret up just a little, then the prybar works great as long as you are patient and work slowly. I have so far not experienced any chipping.

Why are there so many nay sayers on this forum? it seems like there are those who want to show the world that they know more than anyone else about a certain technique or concept. I see this over and over here. It's like they are thinking, "I didn't come up with this idea so it certainly will not work." I would like for any of the negative posters to tell me why using a pocket knife and a Bergeon tool is so "risky." Saying it doesn't make it so. How about examples? Remember, in my original post I stated YMMV.

BTW, I have used heat, i.e., a soldering iron, in the past but it didn't seem to make much difference (mixed results). The use of heat in fret removal is "risky business."

 

Robert

Edited by - TN Time on 12/06/2023 09:12:32

Dec 6, 2023 - 9:29:50 AM

RBuddy

USA

1790 posts since 7/2/2007
Online Now

Robert, sorry you want to read so much into my post. Everyone here is free to make their own suggestions and contributions to the BHO.

Using wide end nippers does a lot to help support fret board wood and help prevent chipping, something that a mini pry bar does not do. If you'd like to state how and why that isn't the case, please do.

I don't post here much but when I see someone suggest something and I think there are safer methods, I tend to point that out for the benefit of everyone contemplating a similar project. Offering options that may be worth consideration is a good thing in most cases.

I'm glad your process works for you and wish you the best of luck in your banjo endeavors.

Dec 6, 2023 - 9:36:04 AM
likes this

Slogo

USA

102 posts since 7/28/2022

Sorry Robert, all the frets I have pulled so far came out fairly easy. That's why I only have experience with the end nipper. I like reading what every one else does because I eventually I am going to get a stubborn fret job and will need every trick in the bag. Your having watch tools + experience gives you another avenue of attack. Thanks for sharing.

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