Fret Ends Bevel File - Length And Cut ?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by donnyb, May 18, 2015.

  1. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Hello,

    Could I have some opinions please on

    • the best file length and if differing, the best file holder length,
    • the best all round file cutting grade i.e. bastard, medium/2nd, or fine,
    • and whether cross or single cut gives the best result, based on your experience.

    One thing I did see on the web is the use of the term cross cut mill file. I think that is a misnomer. I understood that a mill file is a single cut item.

    My guess would be to start with a double cut bastard, and finish with a medium or fine mill file, but I have no guess on the best length of the file and its holder.

    Thank you for your advice,

    Regards,

    Don
     
  2. paulg

    paulg Supporting Member

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    Hmmm, well in a nutshell: you shouldn't need to do a whole lot of filing. If you have deep grooves you will need to do some filing. If they are newly installed frets, I don't use a file at all. There's a caveat; you have to seat the frets carefully so they have minimal unevenness (as seen by sighting from the bridge to the nut). From there I tape off the fretboard and use a med/fine diamond sharpening block. Go across the frets working a few frets at a time ending at the 21/24 frets. If you take a lot of material off you will need to re crown the tops, but that's another discussion. In short, avoid filing unless necessary. Learn how to take the minimum amount of material off using diamond hones or blocks with sand paper.
     
  3. K-Line

    K-Line Vendor

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  4. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Thanks Guys. I think I should have said a bit more, and not just relied on the subject heading, which is open to interpretation. Sorry !

    I am referring to the file and holder tool that bevels just the fret ends to approximately 35 degrees after leveling the frets of the whole neck using a sanding beam and/or radius-ed sanding board, and the subsequent re-crowning of the flattened tops of the frets.

    I have made the timber holder with a 35 degree angle slot for a file, making this 12" long, to be cut down to a finished length, to be decided via feedback from this forum.

    I've seen 7" long fret end beveling tools online, but in doing 'googling' research, I have not found any comments on whether that length is the best all round length to actually work with, and is the best length for end result. EG., Maybe a 10" or 5" overall tool length is better in some way I dont know about.

    Also, the best grade/cut of the file (or files) is part of my question.

    Please give me another response ?

    regards,
    Don
     
  5. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    Length shouldn't be an issue, or a crutch. Depending on the amount of fret board edge round over and string spacing 45 might be too much. Nowadays I just use a file and for set neck guitars I tape off the edge and the guitar. Not too aggressive a cut either, or you'll make extra work. Nipping the fret ends as close as possible with the right tool will save you a lot of time. I make my own fret cutters, but you can buy them on line, or make your own if you have a sander, or grinder.
     
  6. Riscchip

    Riscchip Supporting Member

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    With the beveling jigs I made, I can swap out the file inserts. They are held in with a set-screw. I cut down a few different files, but mostly ended up using Nicholson bastard mill files that were--I believe--14" to begin with and ended up around 4.5". They are a little over an inch at the widest point. I cut them down (very carefully) with an angle grinder / cutter blade. I have some coarser and finer inserts that work, but I would generally do most of the work with the bastard insert then switch over to freehand operation with three grits of diamond stone to get the bevels very smooth and polished on their faces.

    These days I work entirely freehand using a different method.

    One thing I'll throw out there: the taller your fret wire, the further into the playable surface of the fret you cut for any given bevel angle...35 always seemed like too much to me on very tall fret wire. For that reason, I made something like four of these jigs to hold the files at different angles, depending on the fret wire I was using.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  7. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Thanks Mike and Carson. Carson, the Nicholson would be a single cut , ie., cuts in one direction (forward) only ? And, what do your diamond stones look like ?

    Any chance of a photo of both the bastard file and the stones?

    Regards, Don
     
  8. Riscchip

    Riscchip Supporting Member

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  9. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Great photo Carson. Thank you. I have gone to your link for the Dia Sharp stones and will look into how to use them properly, perhaps there's a Stew Mac video.

    Would put a nice final edge on my fish filleting knife too , no doubt !

    Just an aside, there is a lot of debate on the web about the best fret end angle. The tool I have made is from Tasmanian Blackwood with a carefully cut 35 degree slot cut . Subsequently read that its better to make the file holder from soft wood to minimize damage due to a slip etc, but Ive made it now, and the blackwood looks nice lol !

    Unless someone can tell me a good reason why not, I will cut it down in length to 7 " and go with a single cut file as you suggest. I can always make it shorter. It will be used just to trim up any rogue fret ends after doing a leveling job.

    I am not yet to the fret wire replacing stage as thats possibly a bridge (no pun intended) too far for me. I have got quite good with leveling existing fret wire with a dead flat 1" beam and stew mac sanding blocks. Its a benefit to have an mechanical engineering background and to have played for coming on 50 years on some cheap mongrel guitars , gradually acquiring the good stuff. Amazing though how bumpy the necks can be on new 'off the shelf' big-name and big price tag solid bodies. I guess thats why they have custom shop models available ?

    It sure makes a big playing playing and sounding difference to have the neck right in all aspects.

    Thanks again,

    Don in Oz
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    this!

    i use the stew mac white nylon beveling block, but i glued a wood "runner" to the flat bottom to make the bevel a bit more vertical for the taller wire.

    as for the block itself, 7" or so seems about the right length; longer and you might find yourself missing spots on a neck that has any slight variations in straightness of the edges, shorter and you might find yourself causing those errors in edge straightness.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015

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