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Edge Markers for Fretless Fingerboard:

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by LedBelli Bass, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. LedBelli Bass

    LedBelli Bass Fine, Handmade Custom Bass Guitars

    Dec 25, 2008
    Pasco, WA
    One way to do it:

    Take a fingerboard that is near final finishing stage (radiused, tapered, sanded; but not glued to the neck yet) and clamp in vise edge to edge with a fret layout template of your choice:


    Once everything is properly aligned and clamped, I use a Japanese handsaw to cut edgewise into the fingerboard using the fingerboard template as a guide and as a depth guage for each cut. In my case, the thickness of the kerf of the saw and the veneer I am using match within .002" (0.022"). Note that in this picture, on the left side of the photo, I have aligned the nut slot (fender style) with the "zero" fret notch on the fingerboard template:


    Then glue the small tabs of the veneer of your choice edgewise into each slot, I used Titebond II, just dipping the edge of the veneer into a dab of glue before inserting the tab into its slot. Some people use super glue. I let them set for 2 hours:


    Then, using a utility knife blade, I nipped/cut away the excess veneer material as close as I comfortably could, before then block-planing the edge and the back of the fingerboard flush. For the top surface of the fingerboard I sanded to finish, careful not to disturb the radius of the fingerboard:



    Finished result. Total time (not counting glue drying time) was around 45 minutes

  2. Thanks very much for posting that how-to Ledbelli! I've been trying to think of ways of dong the edge markers on my project. Alas this time I'll have to pass on this technique as I've literally glued the fingerboard to the neck :rolleyes:

    Next time... ;)
  3. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    That is pretty much what i am doing for the fretless-in-planing i will do the summer, only, i am going top vary my cuts, like harmonics will be deeper, and i will probably go all the way on the 12th fret. I love those saws.
  4. LedBelli Bass

    LedBelli Bass Fine, Handmade Custom Bass Guitars

    Dec 25, 2008
    Pasco, WA
    Thanks. This fingerboard is installed on Noah #002 here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=509025
  5. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Very nice!
    This needs to be added to the How-To
  6. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    lbb, just curious, why do you wait until after radiusing and sanding? I usually do this kind of work after cutting the rough taper but before I radius so any chip-out won't effect the final product.

    Also isn't your depth gauge a little hard on the saw teeth ;)
  7. LedBelli Bass

    LedBelli Bass Fine, Handmade Custom Bass Guitars

    Dec 25, 2008
    Pasco, WA
    ^It's just one way I do it. I usually radius before I rough taper the cut (there's been a couple of exceptions), so it leaves me in that particular spot in the process! lol

    Also, my planes are razor-shaving sharp, and I take such a fine cut that tear-out has never been an issue.

    But next time I may do it the rehto yaw around!

    I don't bear down on the saw, and the advantage of using a Japanese saw is that you feel the contact with the template instantly. Japanese saw blades are cheap to replace too.

    But then again, when I get the money to do it, I'll buy a thin kerf blade for my table saw, and that will change everything!

    This just provides people with a cheap, effective means of achieving the result. Thanks!

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