Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Making a Fret Beveling Tool

Since the Tour de France has been running, I haven't worked on any projects.  But now that the Tour is over, it's back to the workshop (such as it is...).

I've been playing my blond Telecaster some on and off, but it has a couple of playability issues I need to address.  The main one is that the fret ends seem to stick out a bit and I feel them 'bumping' when I go up and down the neck.  The second issue is that there is some buzzing on the first fret - the nut slots are a bit low and I may need to make a new nut for it.

I'm going to make a tool to file the fret end bevels and then I'm going to level and crown the frets.  I've read a lot about this, but never actually done it.  I figure this is as good a time as any.  Also, I have a couple guitars and one vintage ukulele that will need some fret work waiting in the wings, so on we go!

Luthier supply places such as Stewart-MacDonald and Luthier's Mercantile sell specialized tools to do the beveling, but I'm going to make a homebrew tool instead.  I've seen a bunch of folks on the Telecaster Forums do this, and it looks easy.

I bought a medium mill file - about 6 inches.  I also have a pine scrap from something-or-other around here.

The idea is to cut an angle - about 30 degrees - into the wood, and stick the file in it.  Then the block gets held against the neck, and files a bevel on the frets.

I don't need the whole length of the file, and I certainly don't need the handle end.  The file actually tapers toward one end, and I'm just going to cut it so I wind up with a rectangular section of file.

A hacksaw isn't enough to cut the file, so I try a heavy-duty cutting attachment on the Dremel.

Oh yes!

The Dremel works great and makes lots of arty sparks in the process.   I did wear gloves and eye protection during this process.

With the file trimmed to shape, I now cut a 30 degree miter with my trusty (if not exactly accurate) Ryobi miter saw.  I also hack off some of the excess length from the scrap.

The fit into the wood block is close.  I just need to clean it up a bit with a chisel.  A couple of folks used screws to secure the file, but I think I can just have a force fit.

Between a couple of chisel cuts and my rubber mallet, the file fits into the block perfectly.

I now have a fret end beveling tool!  Check out those rounded edges - from a router test.

Now I can just run the file up and down the neck and file a bit of length off the fret ends, and make a nice clean bevel.

You can't see it, but I put masking tape along the side of the neck where the tool comes in contact with it, so as to ensure it doesn't get scraped up.


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