Where To Find Affordable Luthier Tool?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Wesman61, Dec 5, 2018 at 9:47 PM.

  1. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,093
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    I'm getting the itch to get back into working on guitars. The main projects I have are some pickup swaps and a refret. I have a few tools but I need a few more. Just wondering if there's something between Stewmac and the Chinese sellers on Ebay. TIA.
     
  2. wox

    wox Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,033
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2015
    Pickup swaps generally don't need more than a soldering iron and a screwdriver or two.

    Fret jobs depend on the method you plan to use, but can be accomplished with a minimal amount of speciality tooling.

    Lots of luthier tools on Amazon. You can find cheaper alternatives to almost anything SM sells.
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  3. Timtam

    Timtam Member

    Messages:
    320
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2017
    Location:
    Melbourne
    The difficulty for the novice is separating the good, reasonably priced tools from the junk. You could just post anything you're thinking of buying here and ask "Is this any good ?" .. or "Where do I get a good ______" ? ;)
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  4. sjruvolo

    sjruvolo Member

    Messages:
    118
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Don't go with the most in-expensive tools. Buy the minimum amount of tools that is needed to do the specific jobs you will be doing and buy quality. It will make the tasks easy and precise.
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  5. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,093
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    The main thing I need for setups and refrets is some strait edges. Those aren't cheap but they seem very necessary. I've used 12" rulers but I'd feel better using a dedicated precision strait edge. Also, for leveling frets I have used the wooden radiused blocks from Stewmac. I would rather have something longer since I've had trouble with sanding the first 2 or 3 frets more than the frets farther up the neck. I know it's mainly due to my technique but any way I can improve the work with better tools is welcome.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 8:55 AM
  6. wox

    wox Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,033
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2015
    fwiw any long, straight beam will work as a fret leveler. Many reputable folks here use things like scraps of granite from a countertop shop, or a scrap piece of steel ground flat.
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  7. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,093
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    BTW, I dug out all my luthier tools and laid them out on my work bench to take an inventory and to see what I should get. I'll post some pics later so anyone that wants to can make suggestions. I picked up a few tools yesterday. A cheap soldering station, some wire cutters, a magnetic screw dish, digital calipers, and some other stuff.
     
  8. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,093
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    How would this work for a strait edge?

     
  9. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,290
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Hills of WV
    There is a very useful straight edge built right into guitars. Fret a taut string at the first fret and at the body joint or end of fretboard it is a fine straight edge for many purposes, including checking neck relief.
    I have bought many budget tools and almost always end buying a decent tool to replace them, so I end up spending more trying to save money. StewMac is high but their tools are good. Their shipping is way too high.
    Check LMI & Philadelphia Luthier as other sources of good tools.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 5:32 PM
    claudel, zach715 and Wesman61 like this.
  10. mistermikev

    mistermikev Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    surprise, az
    disclaimer: just my 2 cents and probably not worth 1
    folks often say not to buy cheap because in the end it will cost you more. this is true to some degree and fair advice.
    that said: sometimes it just makes sense.
    For example... I bought a set of harbor freight forstner bits. they were sharp for a minute. They are great for hogging out a lot of wood. I bought some fisch in specific sizes for things like a jack hole, stud holes, etc. these need to remain really sharp... so I only use them for that.

    I have also gone cheap and regretted it... for instance the hf clamps. They have a rubber grip that is much nicer than the bessey clamps, however as a result I've broken several of them by warping them via over tightening.

    for fret jobs... I'm no expert, and I'm certain an 20" aluminum radius fret beam would be angelic... but I have found that a decent level with spray adhesive and 3m sandpaper works great. Followed by a 8" wood radius beam.
    for crown... I have a nice stew mac one... but I aslo have a cheapie I bought off evilbay. I use the cheapie first, then use the stew mac only for the final few strokes.
    for edge files... I just use needle files. The ones I have don't have an abrasive edge so they pretty much keep me out of trouble afa the fretboard.

    hope something here helps! cheers
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  11. wox

    wox Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,033
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2015
    probably fine but you may want a thicker one.

    i use a 24" aluminum straight edge i bought at an art store years ago for not much money. it's around 1/8 thick and will stand upright on the frets. good for checking neck relief.
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  12. Timtam

    Timtam Member

    Messages:
    320
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2017
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Some other reasonably priced tools ...
    Action gauge (metric / imperial)
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Durable-St...-Guitar-Bass-Mandolin-Banjo-O445/254011855804
    Notched straight edge ..
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1x-Guitar-...ool-for-Most-Electric-Guitars-TS/254012797806
    Fret rocker ...
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fret-Rocke...uthier-Tool-for-DIY-Guitar-Parts/263729600729
    Radius gauges ...
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/03A5-54D6-...dius-Gauge-Stainless-Steel-Tools/264075533343

    A 50mmx25mmx2mm aluminium beam makes a good fret levelling beam, say 400mm long. Attach adhesive sandpaper, or regular sandpaper with double-sided tape.

    Once you have a decent straight edge it can be used to double-check anything else that is supposed to be straight (fret rocker, notched straight edge, levelling beam, etc).

    Some tools I would go the more expensive route on, as decent cheaper versions are harder to come by ... eg fret crowning file, nut files.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 8:54 PM
    Wesman61 likes this.
  13. RicOkc

    RicOkc Member

    Messages:
    632
    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    Oklahoma
  14. Mr. Duque

    Mr. Duque Member

    Messages:
    155
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2016
    Location:
    São Paulo, Brazil
    If you are poor like me, you may find many tools on ebay and aliexpress. Usually "non cutting" tools can be cheap, and work just fine.

    But, don't go out buying everything, identify the need first. There are many many things that can be improvised from regular tools or using creative solutions.
     
    Wesman61 likes this.
  15. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,093
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004

Share This Page