help bending fretwire

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Devin, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. Devin

    Devin Low Voltage Supporting Member

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    So, working on my first fret job and its kicking my ass. This wire is allot harder to bend than i thought, especially with a uniform radius. I checked the cost of the "cheap" stew mac solution $35... not 135, was a catalog misprint!

    any good advice on how to bend i nice even curve into fretwire? thanks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  2. 909one

    909one Member

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    Last month I just fretted my first guitar. You don't really need the wire to be uniformly curved. It just needs to be greater than the radius of the neck, so when you put it in, the wire doesn't have the tendency to want to poke back out of the slot. I just used the wire cutters to hold the wire in one hand (hold it by the tang) and bent it with my other hand. I'm amazing at how easy it really is to fret a guitar and how much better you can make any guitar after its done. I think cutting a nut properly is a lot harder!
     
  3. Devin

    Devin Low Voltage Supporting Member

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    did you do the whole thing (uncut rod of fret) at once or did you cut them individually first?
     
  4. 909one

    909one Member

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    I think I tried it both ways but in general I think bent about 6-9 inches of wire at a time then cut them. Its obviously easier to bend before its cut. But I remember also bending them after I cut them as well. What I learned is that you don't really need to be all that precious with the frets before they get into the slots because the fret leveling should really fix everything once they are in.
     
  5. Devin

    Devin Low Voltage Supporting Member

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    yeah i have to buy a radius block, forgot that part... Thanks for the help! i just hate seeing the fret surface get screwed up by my pliars. Plus im hoping to get away with as little leveling as possible, thats the part that worries me the most.
     
  6. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

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    cut a notch in one dowel for the tang to pass thru

    use two other dowels - mounted in the same board - to hold the wire at a static distance from the center dowel with the notch

    i made one where the center slides in a slot and gets tightened down with a wingnut

    there is also a plan for a stewmac style bender from a few dollars' worth of hardware store parts- i think maybe on MIMF
     
  7. Mrmarshallhead

    Mrmarshallhead Member

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    You remember Meccano (erector) sets?

    I made a fret radius tool from Meccano parts. I was used to making Meccano strip and plate rollers, and noticed that they used same principle as the Stewmac jig.

    Worked perfectly and no cost.

    Although the 7.25" radius looks far tighter than it appears on a strat fretboard when you have a coil of correctly radiussed fret wire!
     
  8. Devin

    Devin Low Voltage Supporting Member

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    Im having trouble understanding this device. Do you have a pic handy or a drawing? thanks.
     
  9. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    You don't even need a special tool. Flat jawed pliers (no serations) will do just fine. If you want to get fancy, dremel a slot in it for the tang like StewMac. I keep meaning to do this, but it just takes a little bit of touch to use the pliers without the slot. Cut to length and bend just the tiniest bit at a time, work your way down half the fret, reverse and repeat. It takes just an incredibly small amount of pressure to actually bend the fret properly. The only thing to avoid is kinks, and you avoid them by working your way down slowly and using a very small amount of pressure.

    I have a real fret bender (the nice ones with wheels), but doing it by hand doesn't require any special tools at all. In the good 'ole days, we did complete fret jobs with nothing but ground down snips, a couple of files from the hardware store, maybe a block of wood with sandpaper on it or an oil stone, pliers and a hammer. All stuff you could find in a typical toolbox. :)
     
  10. bluesjunior

    bluesjunior Member

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    Here's a good walk through on how this guy made his own fretwire bender from easily available items either at the local hardware store or in your tool box. You don't have to use the exact same things, I made mine from this plan but used three rubber ringed steel rollers from the hydraulic shock absorbers on an old washing machine cylinder mounted on a piece of wood. Good luck.:idea
    http://terrydownsmusic.com/technotes/fretbender/fret_bender.htm
     
  11. Devin

    Devin Low Voltage Supporting Member

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    Great ideas, thank you so much guys :aok
     
  12. blong

    blong Member

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    I'm with jcoloccia. I do use the roller one sometimes, but sometimes not. It's touch and technique. I like doing things the old-school way most of the time. I use the roller for stainless steel if I need to radius it.

    I still like hammering frets, even with my presses.

    Bob
     
  13. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    I made one based on the design provided in the link, but made a few changes out of necessity. There were no thick cutting boards available, so I bought one at Walmart that was thinner and smaller. I used a 1.5" hole saw to cut two plastic circles off of one end of the board, and then squared it up; one of the circles was put aside for a replacement in case the first one wears out.

    I bought a folding handle instead of the one pictured; it saved a few bucks. I also chose a different set of rollers that are slightly larger, with a wide bearing that keeps the moving part from rubbing up against the cutting board.

    Cutting a slot in the plastic cutout was tricky; I used a Dremel tool and some diamond files.

    An unforeseen expense was buying a roll of friction tape; if you have a rough grit of self-adhesive sandpaper available, use it instead.

    Having changed the design specs, I was forced to improvise when it came to positioning the rollers. The smallest radius my design will produce is six inches, and the largest is 18 inches.
     
  14. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    I found a less expensive high quality wheel fret bender on ebay that a guy is making...$75 I think is what I paid for it and it already paid for itself. Nickel/Silver fretwire usually isn't too bad to work with without some sort of bender, but the gold EVO (and stainless) fret wire I've been working with is very springy and I find its best to use a wheel bender for it so you can get it to exactly match the fretboard radius so it doesn't spring itself out of the fret slots.

    Gold EVO even comes out half decent even for this rank amateur ;):
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jescar

    Jescar Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice!

     
  16. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    agreed!

    are those maxima gold strings on there?

    and gold hardware? i sense a theme here.
     

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