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Rolled fretboard edges?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by JackButler, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. JackButler

    JackButler Supporting Member

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    Ok, building a Tele and I think I wanna try to roll the edges of the fretboard for a more broken in feel. ANyone have any tips for me?
     
  2. Gradinger

    Gradinger Member

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    A cabinet scraper is the ticket, but there's a steep learning curve to sharpening and using this tool. Stew-mac's fret dressing stick #1826 can also do the job. Practice on a pawn shop prize before attacking your favorite neck.
     
  3. JackButler

    JackButler Supporting Member

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    Ok, I'll take it under advisement. Thanks!
     
  4. Woodshed

    Woodshed Member

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    DO NOT USE A CABINET SCRAPER OR A SCREWDRIVER SHAFT!!! Cabinet scraper equals one flat bevel along the edge, not a rounded smooth radius, you will also have a very difficult time with the frets this way. Way too aggressive and will have to be smoothed out with sandpaper and frets filled afterwards. The trick is to use Micro Mesh, 1500 and work it evenly up and down the edge lengthwise. Use the paper on your fingers, no sanding block, essentially you are simulating the wear that would happen over years of playing. Go up a couple grades and do again, etc. Rounds over the edge and polishes the frets ends at the same time. Then use the highest grade you get to 3600-4200 and polish the frets across the board, will look and feel like a vintage neck in about 15 minutes. I like to hit the cowboy chord area a little harder to make it real smooth and comfy. I have tried several different methods and this is the best and most consistant, not to mention safest. I just used this method again on a Allparts FAT tele nitro neck and it looks and feels like it has been played for 50 years, no joke. Very forgiving of mistakes also.

    Scott
     
  5. Gradinger

    Gradinger Member

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    I should clarify:

    The scraper technique involves hundreds small cuts per neck to achieve a smooth radius -- hence the warning. With practice, an entire neck can be done in under an hour. The bonus is that no metal dust from the frets contaminates the woodgrain, and the laquer on a maple fb can be preserved.

    I started using this method after trying abrasives on ebony and some of the harder rosewoods.
     
  6. Woodshed

    Woodshed Member

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    Huh, never had any problems with metal dust from the Micro Mesh method but I constantly rinse the mesh out in clean water and don't hit it very hard at all. It's important to use the mesh as a surface treatment and not as a piece of sandpaper in the conventional sense. You are not removing lots of material, just softening the harsh line the finish has at the fretboard/neck angle. It also has absolutely no effect on the nitro on the board, not sure what you mean by that. You just lightly glide the mesh over the fretboard edge, dressing the entire edge to the same soft radius.

    Scott
     
  7. MikeP

    MikeP Member

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    How much work would you say it would take with the micro mesh method to reach this degree of roll?
    Thanks
    [​IMG]
     
  8. John Bell

    John Bell Member

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    I first use a small and sharp pair of Fiskers scissors.Very easy to shave the edges.I do a little at a time on each fret.Then bo back with sandpaper wrapped around a pencil.To do it right it's about 4 hours worth of work.I also should mention,I've only worked on rosewood which is fairly easy to work with.Hard maple could be a different story.
     
  9. MikeP

    MikeP Member

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    Thanks John!
    Hows the project coming on your end?
    Post some pics in your original thread when your done please ;)
     
  10. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    I use a Stanley knife razor blade as a scraper to get mine going then finish up with fine paper if I need to. I touch up the fret ends anyway it only take a few minutes and you get nice smooth, round ends with no sharp edges.
     
  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    Start with a brand new straight edge razor and clean up the roundover with 600 then 800 grit Fre-cut gold from 3M. If this is on a rosewood or ebony 'board there's no need for Micro Mesh or anything else that fine.
    :AOK
     
  12. derek_32999

    derek_32999 Member

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    I am guessing you would do this before applying the neck finish? Unless you are looking for the aged look right?
     
  13. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    One thing though - if you put a really good roll on the edge you might want a narrower spaced bridge.
     
  14. derek_32999

    derek_32999 Member

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    Do you mean nut?
     
  15. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    Nope - I mean bridge. The Fender Standard neck with rolled edges doesn't match up well with vintage spaced trems. The E strings tend to roll off the edges of the fretboard. Callaham cautions against this with their conversion bridges as well.
     
  16. dave251

    dave251 Member

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    I can roll the edges on a FRETTED fretboard in about fifteen minutes and have it ready for finish. This is basically the method I use on my guitar necks....except instead of a long wood block...I use an orbital sander. The cavaat here is I have LOTS of experience.

    You need a long DEAD FLAT hardwood block, and, since you're inexperienced, I'd start with 150 grit sticky sandpaper( you can buy this in a roll, or cut down sticky(PSA) sanding discs to size using a utility knife blade).

    Of course, the neck should be off the guitar. Round one end of your wood block...should be at least 10" long.

    I'm making the assumption you'll have the fret ends nipped fairly flush to the edge of the fretboard.

    HEAVILY tape off the peghead....so you won't gouge the side while working the sanding block. Now, just sand lengthwise along the edge, slowly, working the radius as you see fit. It will come off fairly fast, although you might need to replace paper every now and then.

    Once you have that radius like you want, you'll need to go to a felt backing and lighter paper on your block...I'd do 220 and then finally 400 and steel wool before you're ready for finish.

    This method matches your fret ends and the edge of the board perfectly.

    BE AWARE you'll probably have to make a new nut....since your frets will be considerably shorter.
     
  17. derek_32999

    derek_32999 Member

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    Ah yes, I was thinking strictly Tele's for some reason... :crazy
     

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