Finally got a chance to get back to the Princess banjo-mandolin. I'm looking forward to finishing it since I have other projects in the queue. And my friend is probably wondering where on earth her little Princess has gone to.
Here I am pulling out the last few old frets. You can't get modern fretwire quite this small. The new fretwire is close, but's it's a bit taller.
Note the infamous Green Gunk® that lives in the fret slots of all old fretted instruments. It got cleaned out during the refretting process.
You can also see my new Stew-Mac guitar repair vise. I was thinking about getting one for some time, and I'm SO glad I did. You may be able to see how the jaws swivel to hold odd-shaped things such as headstocks.
The quality is ok...the paint job is not the best and the fit of the drive screw is so-so. But it's a great vise, especially for the money. I'm going to finish the raw wood on the jaws with Tru-Oil I think - they're already getting marked up. There is a soft urethane pad on the jaws to prevent scratching instrument finishes...a nice touch. And I love the crank knob - fun and useful at the same time.
A lot of reviews on the Stew-Mac site say something like "I can't believe I lived without this." I agree. It makes this kind of work so much easier. I would have been chasing this neck all over the workbench trying to work on it.
A couple of passes and we have slightly bigger slots.
So I put the fret press to work, carefully and gently. They came out fine.
I still needed to seat the frets with a hammer on the section over the neck heel and on the fingerboard extension. I ran them through the fret bender to put a gentle curve on them, which helped keep them straight when hammered in.
But I did want to show how much metal gets into the crowning file on a job like this. I did about 20 back-and-forth passes on 2 frets and you can see how much material got into the file. I have a small file brush to get it out.
I find that I clean the file after 2 or 3 frets. You need to keep the teeth clean or they'll just clog up and will just scratch the frets instead of filing a crown on them.
Also note how I supported the fingerboard extension with a wood block (green arrow). The board is so thing and flexible that I was concerned it would snap off. Need to treat it gently.
Now I can put the Princess back together!