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Which Glue For Refrets And Why

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
37,782
Are you widening the fret slots with dremel ala Don Teeter?
i should hope not!

the whole point is to have a properly tight fit so the fret could be pressed in without glue and stay just fine, and then also use glue to seal up the slot and ensure stability and good tone transfer.
 

bojocatkite

Member
Messages
573
Great post from you! Your point regarding the sealing of the end grain is a good one.

I just wanted to point-out that IMO, in no case should the glue be relied upon to be the primary bond to the fretboard. This is one of Don Teeter's methods that have gone by the wayside, for very good reasons.
The correct fit is the right interference fit sans glue. This is vital when building a "monolithic-style" neck.
The glue's primary job is to help the fret resist being spat-out due to fluctuating ambient environments.

I use gel cyano because:
1) It doesn't run or wick
2) It has gap filling ability to a degree...tiny spots around the tang and barbs, and below the tang
3) In this way it helps to make the neck a more monolithic item. Air in the neck is an enemy.

Our valued friend @t.tucker makes a great point regarding the sealing of the end grain! I think that the gel does a sufficient job of this as well, but perhaps not as completely as would thin CA. @t.tucker try the gel trick as I described previously! I think that you will like it.

Lastly, when one sees the ends of frets popping-up that can only mean one thing...there was built-in tension when that fret was installed. The fret was not exactly bent to match the radius (not difficult) and/or was deformed during installation and was compelled to seat down with hopes that the glue would keep it.

Really folks, it's not rocket science. The fretboard radius is made perfect, then the fret is pre-bent to that radius exactly, and finally that fret is pressed-in with a shoe that is exactly that same radius. The perfect marrage=no tension. It all mates exactly. Not too hard to do.

Terry,

How do you match the fret slot width and the fret tang/barb ? Do you cut the slots at the same width than the fret tang and adjust the barb using a StewMac fret barber ? if so, how much barb do you leave for rosewood or ebony ?
Do you use a regular fret bender like the one from StewMac ?

Great thread by the way.
 

Chris Scott

Member
Messages
9,065
i've repaired my share of very expensive and otherwise nicely made guitars (boutique acoustics mostly for some reason) where i really wish they'd used that "crutch" because the fret ends are popping up all over the place.

glue shouldn't be used instead of properly seating the fret of course, but i'm convinced used in addition to proper fret work it's a worthwhile improvement, especially for long term stability and even tone/sustain improvement.
Thanks walter, you saved me from posting...:cool:
 

Chris Scott

Member
Messages
9,065
avoid any swelling of the slot wood when still wet like i worry water-based glues might.

Hey walter, fwiw I've been using LMI for years, on ALL fretwork, and have had zero issues...I monitor instruments I've fretted years back, and they're as stable as the day I sent 'em home.

Only exception is that I have a system for re-seating pop-ups using water-thin CA...I'm interested in Terry's system though, looks very cool indeed.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
37,782
fwiw I've been using LMI for years, on ALL fretwork, and have had zero issues...I monitor instruments I've fretted years back, and they're as stable as the day I sent 'em home.
do you like jam 'em in on day one and level them on day two after it's all dry?

my worry (having never used that kind of glue for frets) was about swelling the wood and throwing off the flatness for the leveling step; so i guess you find that once dry the neck is back to where it's going to stay and there isn't further movement after you're done?
 

RicOkc

Member
Messages
2,009
i should hope not!

the whole point is to have a properly tight fit so the fret could be pressed in without glue and stay just fine, and then also use glue to seal up the slot and ensure stability and good tone transfer.
Not myself but a luthier who had worked with Don years ago.

And... Yes, he does widen the slots, just slightly, mainly to clean up the slots.

Don refretted my Tele years ago using that method and the neck/fretwork was great and had no issues at all, great work.

Many people complain/ridicule that procedure because it's not the old way of doing things. If the neck ever needs another refret removing the old frets is easily done by heating up the fret with a soldering iron.
 

Hoodoo Man

Member
Messages
59
I'm still hammering in frets. On bound ebony and rosewood boards I use slightly watered down Titebond. I fill the slot with a needle tipped bottle, wipe off the excess with a damp cloth, hammer the fret in then wipe off any squeeze out. There's plenty of open time so once all the frets are in I can check with a straight edge for any high spots and tap them down. I then use a radius block lined with some thin cardboard to clamp them overnight just to be sure they don't move while the glue dries.

My theory is not to glue the frets in but to swell, harden and seal the end grain so it grips the fret tang and is less susceptible to humidity changes.

Actual tangible benefits are it's easy to clean up, it seems to make hammering the frets easier and so far I've had great results with minimal levelling and no lifting.

I've tried gel superglue in the past but it dries too fast for me and I ended up making a complete mess. Although I can see it working well if you're pressing frets in.

With unbound fingerboards I slightly undercut the fret tang and drop water thin superglue down the end of the fret slots before filling them with sawdust and a drop more glue.
 

9fingers

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,447
Hey walter, fwiw I've been using LMI for years, on ALL fretwork, and have had zero issues...I monitor instruments I've fretted years back, and they're as stable as the day I sent 'em home.
I thought the LMI white glue had changed/become unavailable a few years back. I have not used it recently. What is the current state of that glue?
 

Chris Scott

Member
Messages
9,065
I'm still hammering in frets. On bound ebony and rosewood boards I use slightly watered down Titebond. I fill the slot with a needle tipped bottle, wipe off the excess with a damp cloth, hammer the fret in then wipe off any squeeze out. There's plenty of open time so once all the frets are in I can check with a straight edge for any high spots and tap them down. I then use a radius block lined with some thin cardboard to clamp them overnight just to be sure they don't move while the glue dries.

My theory is not to glue the frets in but to swell, harden and seal the end grain so it grips the fret tang and is less susceptible to humidity changes.

Actual tangible benefits are it's easy to clean up, it seems to make hammering the frets easier and so far I've had great results with minimal levelling and no lifting.

I've tried gel superglue in the past but it dries too fast for me and I ended up making a complete mess. Although I can see it working well if you're pressing frets in.

With unbound fingerboards I slightly undercut the fret tang and drop water thin superglue down the end of the fret slots before filling them with sawdust and a drop more glue.

You still hammerin' bro? :eek:

Seriously though, try pressing them in...I've been using the fret press (mostly the vice grip-style) system from SM for years now, and never looked back.

Much more control, and no impact in the fret...unless you're using a wide wooden mallet (which would be pretty dumb anyway - too hard to not ping the board with an edge), the impact tends to spring the wire upwards upon impact, making it near impossible to get them to seat cleanly.
 
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Chris Scott

Member
Messages
9,065
do you like jam 'em in on day one and level them on day two after it's all dry?

my worry (having never used that kind of glue for frets) was about swelling the wood and throwing off the flatness for the leveling step; so i guess you find that once dry the neck is back to where it's going to stay and there isn't further movement after you're done?

Yup, I like a full day, maybe more but mostly out of residual paranoia:D - I've monitored the f'boards with a notched straightedge and there's no discernible back - bowing that I can see...I reckon there's not enough water in there to cause any real swelling, though as you say once it dried the board would resume it's original shape anyway.

Fwiw, I much prefer LMI glue, as besides the fact that it's a very good adhesive, it dries almost as crispy as hide glue...and I also don't have to mix it, then stress over it skinning over (no gluepot in my shop) before I'm done.

I just can't see the point of not using some form of adhesive for installing frets - too many variables that can allow those suckers a chance to escape...:cool:
 
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Hoodoo Man

Member
Messages
59
You still hammerin' bro? :eek:

Seriously though, try pressing them in...I've been using the fret press (mostly the vice grip-style) system from SM for years now, and never looked back.

Much more control, and no impact in the fret...unless you're using a wide wooden mallet (which would be pretty dumb anyway - too hard to not ping the board with an edge), the impact tends to spring the wire upwards upon impact, making it near impossible to get them to seat cleanly.
If I was working on guitars professionally I'd get one in a heartbeat! But, long story short... I've resigned myself to just doing it as a hobby now, so it's hard to justify the cost. Plus I'd need to get the "Jaws 2" as well to do acoustics.

I'm using a £10 Sealey 12oz dead-blow hammer, the ones covered in orange plastic. I just rounded off the corners and polished the brass face and it works perfectly. It doesn't mark the frets, small enough to accurately hit one fret at a time (so long as work down the fingerboard) and seats the frets nicely without bouncing back or using too much force.
 




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