Fretting

I’ve been putting this off for months. This is the one thing that I’m not sure I can do. It’s the scary bit.

DIY_guitar_fret_laser10

So I looked at all the videos on the internets about how to install frets… and figured I needed some tools. It’s a bit like Western-Tradition magik this… if you want a sword to do invocations etc, then you need to make your own. Buying one doesn’t cut it – a ‘bought’ sword has psychic contaminants, so can’t be used for magic. So you make your own… and to achieve better purity, it’s best if you extract your own ore, and use tools that you’ve also made yourself… using tools you made to make them. So you’re kindof encapsulating the whole evolution of the sword-making tool-chain / tech, into a single instrument.

So with this, I figured I needed a hammer with a soft head, and lead shot inside it. I found some bits of wood from one of the (apple I think) trees that blew down in last-year’s hurricanes. Drilled them out, fitted them together etc:

DIY_guitar_fret_laser01

And then attempted to make my own lead-shot… by melting lead and dripping it into a bucket of water. The key to this is having the temperature of the lead as low as possible. Otherwise the drops of lead explode when they hit the water… the ones that don’t explode look a little bit like teardrops… or swans. In the trade, this sort of shot is called “Swanshot”.

To me they looked more like tribolites, but then I wasn’t getting the temperature right

DIY_guitar_fret_laser02

Wound up with this… which I had to redo a couple of times to get rid of all the bits that looked like cornflakes

DIY_guitar_fret_laser00

Then put them into the hammer, and blocked up the hole.

DIY_guitar_fret_laser08

Works like a dream. Weird when that happens.

I also found that I needed a fret-bender… because even with a flat fretboard like I’m using, it’s easier to get the frets to behave if they’re curved.

DIY_guitar_fret_laser05

Which also works like a dream.

I also made a rudimentary fret-pusher to use with a drill press

DIY_guitar_fret_laser06

DIY_guitar_fret_laser07

And lastly, I’ve found it’s really useful to have a bit or perspex with a hole cut in it the same size/shape as the wire cross section, so you can force the tang to point down. With this one it kindof works like a pendulum, automatically making the fretwire sit vertically.

DIY_guitar_fret_laser09

DIY_guitar_fret_laser11

So there you go. I’ve found it’s easiest not to cut all the bits of fretwire to the right length first, but to cut (with a dremel) as I go. ie: install a long bit of wire, then cut it off to the right length.

I put glue in the slots first, then applied super-glue to the join between fret and wood to fill any gaps… for no other reason than the internets told me to. This is a bit of a pain to clean off the wood afterwards. Got to be a better way.

But anyway… after about 30 minutes of filing, polishing, wound up with this:

DIY_guitar_fret_laser12

Which is a bit scruffy, but not bad for a first try.

Next time:

– make tool to check that fret slots are exactly the right depth. Maybe just a marker on a saw.
– clean up excess glue straight away
– maybe not use super glue in the join
– try doing all this before shaping the neck, so I’m working on a flat surface, rather than treading on eggshells around a finished finish. Mind you, then I’ll be treading on eggshells re: the fretboard when shaping the neck. It probably is a whole lot easier to use a separate fretboard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *