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Thread: problem with an ebony fret board

  1. #1
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    Default problem with an ebony fret board

    A guy wants me to build him an f model. and I have a real weird problem I have the fingerboard finished to frets. I have 4 frets on , going slow but good,then I realize the fret wire looks bigger then what I use so , I check, it is wrong, and I don't have enough to finish, so I ease the first out, perfect. start to ease the second one up , and it was almost like a sheet pulling up as if the wood were laminated . I know you can get chips. but I am aware, I am very careful and work slow.with that , I , but when I say chips out it was 1/8 wide and from one fret to the next. I worry about chip out, but hardly get it any more. Again , this is the last 3 fret of the mando but with glasses and goggles the wood up there.had the look of luan This FB is going to make a great soup spoon. So, what I wondered has anyone been having wood problems, I have never herd of ebony doing this, this mando does not want to get done,and though I keep starting over, its the best looking .components, that I have done, , but geesh, Really , a rant. i'm done
    Mike Marrs

  2. #2
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    My head hurts....
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Hey mister mod, go ahead and delete , thanks

  4. #4
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    I don't know whether or not this applies in the above case, but to pull frets it is necessary to heat them with a soldering iron and use a special pulling tool available from luthiers' supply houses. The actual pulling technique requires some mastery also. Also, if frets are seated with CA glue, it can complicate the process. That's one of my reasons for using liquid hide glue for fretwork, rather than CA.

  5. #5

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    All I can say is, I'm no stranger to things taking a bad turn. Just keep pushing, you'll get there and it'll all be worth it.
    I know you know this, and I know I know this, but sometimes it's worth repeating. One foot in front of the other.

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  7. #6
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Ditto Marty.

  8. #7

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Flat sawn ebony fb???

  9. #8
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    That's a bummer, my uncle grids his tines/teeth off his frets before fretting and glues them in so with a little heat they come out with no damage to the board! He says he's done this for years. This comes in handy when doing real expensive mandolins.

  10. #9

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Been there. You can always stop and order more of the same fretwire. You should be able to have it in a week but I will admit that I have avoided this type of solution myself. Heating up the frets with a soldering gun is helpful. You might also experiment with trying to tap the frets out sideways.

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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    thanks everybody, I did not use and glue, and when I was done realized I was just mad, ,( something do less and less today)< and it was a childish rant, and could not find a delete button

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  13. #11
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Generally threads are not deleted, since external sources can see them, and to keep a complete online history.

    That said, your post is helpful for those of us who have experienced this too, and may run into this in the future.

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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Don't know if it was mentioned, but I usually file each fret slot slightly with a triangular file to help from chipping our when removing them later.
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Don't know if it was mentioned, but I usually file each fret slot slightly with a triangular file to help from chipping our when removing them later.
    I was just going to mention this. I think it makes a big difference along with heat from a flat tip soldering iron (helps to clean and "tin" the iron tip frequently to get the best heat transfer). Sometimes a piece of wood just wants to splinter. I've use mostly ebony and Macassar ebony for fingerboards. Some pieces are hard as a rock and don't chip, others seem to do what the OP experienced.

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  18. #14
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    I run a bead of water along each fret and steam it with the soldering iron before starting to pull the fret. Keep the soldering iron on the fret as you pull so it stays hot. That softens the Ebony and it very rarely chips. Have been doing that for years but it made my life a heck of a lot easier after I discovered that little trick.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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  20. #15
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    well, AFTER i HAD THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A PO'D RANT, AND WISHED i WOULD NOT HAVE POSTED, i CERTAINLY LEARNED A LOT, THANKS ALL, also seen caps are on

  21. #16

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    You can edit your post with 3 hours to clean up for grammar, spelling or taste. I've done it more than twice
    Play it like you mean it.

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  22. #17
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    this just seems to go on. I started putting in some new frets with the thoughts of repairing the couple small spots of chip out i have. In installing one fret , ( I had 5 in so far), I am not sure if the fret wire turns in my hand but on one particular fret, a piece of ebony veneer the full width of the fret chipped out., tapping the wire in. So evidently, I stink at pulling frets, but do damage putting them in, ( hammer) . I think I need to look into an arbor. Today , when this happened, I came upstairs shut the lights out, and messaged the intended buyer, ( a buddy), and told him he may want to look elsewhere, because I am not sure when I am gonna walk it off and go back on it. This weekend at a local jam I will see a couple other builders and maybe tey can shed some light . This is my 5th mando.

  23. #18

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Martian, at least now you know which way the ebony was sliced! Maybe even wasn’t ebony!
    A suggestion, though. A drill press, probably in everyone’s shop, makes a useful light arbor press if you make an appropriate adapter, like, say, a wood block.

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  25. #19
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    thanks Richard.I will say this though sometimes , if things do not go wrong, you learn nothing, and I have learned a heap from this one thank you cafe people, for your patience

  26. #20

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Just a word to the wise, you can go sideways with a press also. There is no 100 percent cure.

  27. #21
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    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Hope this wasn't already mentioned but I think it was Dan Erlewine who suggested putting some masking tape along each side of the fret and if it does chip it will hold it in the right place to glue it back.

  28. #22

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Here is Dan Erlewine and his apprentice fixing a chipped fretboard

  29. #23

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Martian, at least now you know which way the ebony was sliced! Maybe even wasn’t ebony!
    A suggestion, though. A drill press, probably in everyone’s shop, makes a useful light arbor press if you make an appropriate adapter, like, say, a wood block.
    Be careful though. I have a harbor freight drill press that I broke trying to use it as an arbor press while refretting my friends guitar.

  30. #24

    Default Re: problem with an ebony fret board

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin_newbie View Post
    Be careful though. I have a harbor freight drill press that I broke trying to use it as an arbor press while refretting my friends guitar.
    Newbie, I have no prejudices about junk tools, especially for light usage, but quite often HF sells stuff that’s really, really bad and fails right out of the box. Unfortunately, I usually dissect bad tools and try to make them better, even the hearing protector earmuffs that couldn’t fit an adult!

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