Gluing in frets

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by hdracer, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Wick in the Ce

    1 vote(s)
  2. Run a bead of Ce first

    2 vote(s)
  1. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I am ready it install the frets in a neck and before I began I wanted to see what the thoughts are in the TB luthier community.
    From my research I see that there are two schools of thought on this.
    1- press in the frets and then wick in the Ce and press and hold until the Ce is set.
    2- Use a pipette to lay in a small bead of Ce and then press in the fret and hold until the Ce is set.
    I have read strong support for both methods.

    The fretboard I am fretting is a rosewood board.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I use LMI's Instrument Makers Glue, rather than superglue, for various reasons. I lay a fine bead in the slots with a syringe, press in the frets, and let them dry.
  3. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    That's the FGX?
    Do you press all the frets in and then use a full length radius beam to hold them in until the glue sets?
    It says it has a hour dry time.
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I didn't realize there was a consensus on gluing them in at all, does it make sense to hammer them in first and then glue anything that pops up, or do most builders glue them from the getgo? My first fret job coming up, so I'm clueless.
  5. Put in a drop of CA, Hammer em in. Works like a charm... and I like hitting stuff too. hehe :wacky:
    ddtkills likes this.
  6. ddtkills


    Mar 7, 2009
    I'm no expert, but if the fret slot is cut to the correct thickness no glue should be needed. But even with perfectly cut fret slots I still use a very tiny amount of CA glue in case the fretboard shrinks due to humidity issues. I dont want any of the frets to shift or come loose years later. If you decide to use glue, only use a small amount. too much could make a future refret job a disaster.
  7. GMC

    GMC Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    The most fingerboard shifting I've seen with my basses is with Ebony fingerboards. Cocobolo and reosewood boards seem far more stable and less prone to movement. If a board contracts / shrinks then in theory it'll grip the fret wire even more and may add to a slightly stronger backbow. If it expands to to increased humidity / damp conditions then the fret slots will probably expand slightly. I'm not sure superglue will make much difference with a tiny amount of expansion or contraction. But hey, if you like to do fret work that's your choice.
    Really old acoustic guitars used tang-less fret wire and their frets were often quite loose. The idea was that the strings, backbow and general playing kept the frets in place via pressure.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yes, I use the FGX. I normally put in the frets and let them dry for 4-6 hours before snipping of the ends and starting the leveling and polishing.

    I use an arbor press and/or a hammer and plastic block. It depends on the neck. On most of my new necks, I press them in, touching up with a hammer as needed. Refretting a vintage neck is usually all done with a hammer.

    No clamping needed. The slots are still cut to the right width so that the barbs do their job holding the fret down. The glue isn't a replacement for the mechanical locking of the barbs. It may add some additional strength, but that's not the point.

    The real purpose of the glue is to seal the slot against moisture. When you saw a slot in the fingerboard, the two sidewalls are exposed open endgrain, just waiting to suck in water. Moisture from the air, oils from your fingers, beer spray from the audience, all can wick in under the fret and get in there. That's the biggest single cause of fret problems; the wood swells up and pushes the frets up. Gluing the frets is all about long term durability. I do it on all my basses.
    ddtkills and hdracer like this.
  9. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    I use Loctite CA gel. I run a bead along the slot, then hammer them in with an 8oz nylon hammer, and a 16oz plastic deadblow hammer. There's usually a bit if squeezout on the sides, which I let dry. It all gets smoothed later when I file and sand the frets even with the neck.
  10. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I have built many basses after receiveing training from a pattern-maker turned luthier, who ran his own repair and building shop for years and year.

    I think you will get a lot of different answers. I've seen the Stewart MacDonald videos and even those luthiers do it differently.

    I hammer them in, and if they won't stay in for some reason, then I glue them in with 5 minute epoxy, sometimes even clamping them down with a radius block.. If you ever need to remove them again, you may have to heat up the fret to soften the glue. One person heated the fret up with a soldering iron, and then lifted them out with a fret puller.