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Thread: Fret Leveling Tools

  1. #1
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    Default Fret Leveling Tools

    I am about to repair my Washburn Mandolin and have looked high and low for the best tools. I dropped it and bented a few frets and now in the process of replacing them and leveling all the frets. I ran across this gentelmen's web site. I have called him to see if this kit would work on a Mandolin because it is for a Guitar. I haven't heard back yet and will try again sometime today. The cost is $17.95. Free Shipping. Just thought I'd share.

    http://www.jsbguitars.com/guitar-mak...t-leveling-kit

  2. #2
    ArtDecoMandos Marty Jacobson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    Well, that kit will work, because it's just two pieces of steel rod and some sandpaper. I think he's really selling the information, as most players wouldn't feel comfortable doing this and he gives you a process to follow. The actual components of that kit are only worth a dollar or so.
    If you are going to do a full fret job, then you will need tools to pull the frets, true up the board, re-install new frets, dress the ends, level the frets, crown them, and polish them.
    Bogdanovitch's guitar building book is great, by the way.
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  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    The best fret leveling tools are planes and straight sanding blocks to get the fingerboard as straight and level as possible before installing the frets. Next, when the frets go in, short straight edges that will span three fret at a time. Any high frets can be detected and leveled (by hammering or pressing). Now, we have a straight level set of frets. The final touch can now be done with a long, straight sanding block followed by crowning files and polishing.
    If you are starting somewhere in the middle of that process, or if you need to level frets of significantly different heights, long flat files my also be needed, then some method of re-crowning the wide flats on the tops of the frets. We all have our preferred tools for fret work, there are many available and some are pretty expensive, but we can get by on just a few.

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    Registered User otterly2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    seems like the kit also contains a sanding block with a dome shaped notch to go over the fret (which maybe raises the cost of components up to two dollars)... but does raise the question of whether the notch will work effectively for narrower fretwire or for lower domes.

    disclaimer: I can't view the videos from this computer, so I'm basing this on what I could read in the description
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    Might need some modification for the smaller frets of a mandolin, but will work.

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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    I use radius blocks to level my fretboards, but I build guitars, so you may want to opt for the planer with sandpaper on the bottom approach if your FB is flat (non-radiused). I got my radius blcoks from StewMac. To level frets I was taught to use a 9" long sharpening stone with a medium grit to level the frets and a fret file to re-round and dress the frets. Nothing fancy and not expensive to buy.
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    This is the reply I got from John. Thanks for all you alls interest and comments. Everything else I've looked at was $40 to $50.

    Thank you for your interest in my fret kit. As I mentioned the kit should work great on a mandolin. I have a shorter 1 1/2" dowel that may work better on the mandolin. I will include it with the other dowels with your order.

    Thanks,
    John

  9. #8
    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    I've found a fret crowning file to be indispensable for doing fret work. All other tools are basic hardware store stuff, but the file is a specialty item you can order from StewMac among other places.

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  10. #9
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    I agree with Verne, but lots of people do this with a small three-cornered file.
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  11. #10
    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    I use a three corner file a lot of the time too. It depends on the frets. There are times when there is not enough fret height to use a crowing file.

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  12. #11
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    Default Re: Fret Leveling Tools

    That so called kit will not level frets. It is designed to lower one high fret and I question whether it would effectively do even that. I recommend the Stewart Macdonald basic fret work tool kit. It is much more expensive than the kit you found. But proper tools often are. John gave you a very good basic outline of what the procedure is. I recommend also Fret Work Step by Step sold by Stew Mac. NFI.

    By the way does anyone else find it suspicious that there have been two very similar threads on this subject within the last couple of days bothof which refer to the same kit on the same guys web site?
    Don

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