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Thread: Feedback: First fret pulling job

  1. #1

    Default Feedback: First fret pulling job

    I performed my first ever fret pulling operation this morning, preparing to scoop the Florida on my fingerboard. Having never pulled frets before and only having this forum (for which I'm very grateful!) and Internet videos to watch, I have no idea how I did. Can y'all tell me your thoughts? Obviously there is some chip out. Since I will be scooping this section out, though, the fingerboard isn't ruined. But I would like to pull all of the frets in preparation for radiusing the fingerboard.

    Thanks.
    Mark

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    Last edited by putnamm; May-27-2020 at 8:05am.

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Feedback: First feet pulling job

    Use a soldering iron to heat the frets while you are pulling and walk the pullers across the board very s.l..o...w...l...y....

    You don't want to really pull, at least not much. Let the pullers wedge the fret up gradually.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Feedback: First feet pulling job

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Use a soldering iron to heat the frets while you are pulling and walk the pullers across the board very s.l..o...w...l...y....
    Thanks, rcc56. I thankfully had a soldering iron my dad had given me and never found a use for. So I used it to warm up the frets. I think the chipout that did result was because of not walking the pullers slowly enough. I also wet the board on either side of the fret I was pulling with a damp Q-tip moistened with distilled water.

    To my untrained eye and for a first attempt I wasn't entirely dissatisfied with this result. Just didn't have a frame of reference. I appreciate your suggestions.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Feedback: First feet pulling job

    You'll get the hang of it after awhile.
    I've seen first attempts that were a lot worse.

    If you really want to have fun, try pulling frets on a hundred year old Gibson on which the frets and fingerboard have "become one."

    Oh, sometimes it helps to score the wood where the crown meets the board with an X-acto knife. Just one or two strokes. Try and get under the crown. But this is hopefully not necessary on a recently built instrument.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    I’ve never pulled a fret, but constantly am involved with non-destructively getting things unstuck. If the corrosion products are what’s ‘joined’ with the wood, how about some light lateral (that is, in the plane of the board, along the main axis) tapping using any kind of a straightedge or the pliers and a (very small) hammer? Just to break the bond and also any attachment from the top finish, or any possible glue. The latter definitely helped with an Exacto knife score. Before trying to lift them.
    Big fan of repetitive tapping.

  7. #6
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    I would suggest reading every article about fretting on frets.com
    Most common answers are already answered there.
    Much depends also on how the frets were installed in the first place.
    I once had a job from hell where some gorilla hammered frets into exremely tight slots and during pulling the whole slabs of ebony from one fret to the next just fell off, thay were split all the time held in place only by the frets.
    Good fret job is not only in installing them but also doing it in a way that the next guy will be able to remove them with least damage.
    Adrian

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    If you wet the fingerboard prior to pulling the frets you may swell the wood and make the chipout worse.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  10. #8
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    If you wet the fingerboard prior to pulling the frets you may swell the wood and make the chipout worse.
    Wrong. If you wet the wood along each fret and use the soldering iron to steam it just before you pull the fret, then the steam will soften the Ebony and you will get little or no chipout. Have been doing that for many years and very seldom get chipout. It is not unusual to do a whole fingerboard with no chipout at all.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    Wrong. If you wet the wood along each fret and use the soldering iron to steam it just before you pull the fret, then the steam will soften the Ebony and you will get little or no chipout. Have been doing that for many years and very seldom get chipout. It is not unusual to do a whole fingerboard with no chipout at all.
    forgot about the soldering iron.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    I use these chip stoppers from StewMac. They seem to help. https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-tool...-set-of-2.html

  13. #11
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    I do like Peter says, and run a thin bead of water along both sides of the fret with a pipette before I heat it. Then, as soon as the water has boiled away, I pull the fret. The water does seem to help, but there's usually a slight amount of chipping. I immediately glue any larger chips down with thin CA, but occasionally there are a few larger ones that get lost, in which case I fill the divots with medium-viscosity black CA. Ebony is chippy stuff

  14. #12

    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    A good luthier/tech will break the sharp corners of the fret slot with a 3 corner file, making a little easier to set the frets and, more importantly, reduce chipout the next time the instrument is refretted.

  15. #13
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    To repeat what Adrian said earlier, more than 90% of the questions and procedures about fret work that are asked about on these forums can be answered by studying Frank Ford's excellent website, frets.com.

    Required reading for fretted instrument repair:

    www.frets.com
    "Complete Guitar Repair" by Hideo Kamimoto

  16. #14

    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    To repeat what Adrian said earlier, more than 90% of the questions and procedures about fret work that are asked about on these forums can be answered by studying Frank Ford's excellent website, frets.com.

    Required reading for fretted instrument repair:

    www.frets.com
    "Complete Guitar Repair" by Hideo Kamimoto
    Following Adrian's post I began reading Frank's website, and I am still doing so. There is indeed a wealth of knowledge there. I appreciate the recommendation.

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Feedback: First fret pulling job

    It might also help to read a couple of well respected books on violin building and repair. In some ways, a mandolin can be more like a violin than a guitar.

    And buy Kamimoto. It is still in print. I bought my copy 40 years ago, and still reference it from time to time.

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