Buckle up, dear reader, this will be a long post with a lot of pictures. But hopefully it will be fun!
Now it's going to get new frets.
I think I've posted pictures of my Japanese fret slotting saw before. Pretty scary looking, but just the thing for...well, cutting fret slots. You can see how big it is compared to the ukulele.
The new frets have a tang (depth) of .054 inches. The existing slots are a little shallower than that. So I set the depth stop to just a hair over .050 of an inch.
After I did a few, I came up with this method: carefully seat the saw into the slot, then slowly pull it through. I did a couple slots where the saw wasn't exactly lined up in the slot, so I accidentally cut a shallow slot next to the original. They were easily filled (2 of them), but I took more care going forward.
This is the Stew-Mac 'Jaws' fretting pliers tool device. I've thought about buying one for a long time, and I finally bit the bullet. (If you follow Argapa Ukuleles, you know that Sven is experimenting with pressing frets in too.)
Basically, Jaws is a long-nose locking plier that Stew-Mac has adapted with a lower caul to go around the bottom of the instrument neck, and a device on the top jaw that holds a caul radiused for a given fingerboard.
It ain't cheap, but it's amazing.
The 960 is a molybdenum steel tool made in Facom's Laissey, France, plant, "the largest plier factory in France," according to their web site. Which makes me wonder what the largest plier factory in Yurrup is?
Facom has a good reputation and I've always been curious about their tools. Side note: they're a sponsor for the Toro Rosso Formula 1 team - the 'junior' Red Bull Racing team. I think they used to be a Ferrari sponsor as well, but I could be wrong.
Is all of that useless information or what?
I think you can get the idea of how this thing works from that picture.
juste pour l'ajuster) and appuyer sur l'fret
(squeeeeeze the fret) into place.
Wow. Where have you been all my life?
I am a terrible fret-hammerer. This is the answer to my dreams. Perfectly pressed frets!
Je suis tellement heureux avec cet outil! Oui! Oui! Oui!
The frets over the body still need to be hammered in. Whap whap! D'oh!
And naturally the ends of those frets are a bit loose so I need to wick some thin CA into the slots to get them to fully seat.
However, jaws will work its wonders on 2/3 of a neck...and it will do an entire bolt-on neck.
Geez, these frets are really small.
I use a small crowning file on them. We're getting close now.