1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

How i made a "Jaws" StewMac style fret press!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by FunkyMan, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    One day whatching all the toys at stewmac.com i saw this:


    Then walking through a hardware store i saw this:


    Then i ordered this:


    With everything in hand, i cut the leftover pieze of the pincers, and soldered a nut carefully with 90 ° so the press caul will accommodate straight, and pressing down uniformly, also did a side thread to fit a small screw that will prevent the caul to fall off


    Installing the press caul:


    Then i made this base with some MDF and some carpet material, to hold the back of the neck when pressing, also made an "L" iron bar to hold it to the pliers:



    And as you can see, i cut the excces on the bottom part of the pliers, did a hole to fit a screw to hold the mdf holder, and this is how the whole thing looks:



    Fortunately both the caul and the base holder are aligned:


    However, this is still somekind of a prototype yet, since i have not made any fretting job with this, i will post pics later and let you know how it worked! Thanks
    postalflunkie and Freekmagnet like this.
  2. Hi.

    Nice work, congrats.

    I would've used the same style of (Facom) vise grips StewMac one is based on though.

    You'll understand why in a while ;).

  3. Nice!
  4. I think I would use a 'C' Clamp like this.


    The clamp you are using, and the one StewMac use seem like it would be hard to get the leverage required and less even pressure. (I've never used the StewMac version, just my $0.02)
  5. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    You're rigth! As i said, it's just a prototype, but the good thing is that it has the adjustable nut for the pressure, and it feels stable in the hands, i guess that pressing frets requires somekind of "feel" and "eye"
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Don't think Facom is available in north america - I've not seen them anywhere except on the workbenches of my neighbour who's originally from Germany. :)

    Regarding the tool, great idea and thanks for sharing - in practice you might want a cork liner or at least thick leather in there to prevent marring the neck...
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    That's pretty much over kill, it doesn't take much pressure to press in a fret.
  8. Hi.

    Especially the Facom style vise-grip is very precise in pressure/travel adjustment thanks to completely rearranged geometry compared with the "old-style" of the welding grip the OP used.

    Try the Facom style vise-grips if You can, you'll be very pleasantly surprised I can guarantee.

    The C clamp style is clumsy, slow, and offers next to no feel/consistency.
    IMO/IME anyway.

    That's exactly correct.
    The precise adjustability is a must also in order to prevent pressing the frets too deep if (/when) the neck thickens.

    IMO, even if I wouldn't have used a welding vise-grip as the donor tool, the ergonomics are better in Yours than they are in the StewMac grips.

    The very low lever pressure of the Facom style probably makes up with that though, but I'd still like to use the lever with my fingers, not with my palm.

    That's too bad, but I'm pretty sure their patent for the design has expired already. I can't imagine StewMac using genuine Facoms as the base for their tool, they probably wouldn't be able to sell them.
    Back in the mid 90's I used those kind of vise-grips for the first time, I was hooked. So much better than anything in the market at that time. As an be expected, the price was astronomical though :(.

  9. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    You mean this one?


    if so, that would be impossible for me, here in my country it's hard to find that kind of fancy tools :bawl::bawl::spit:
  10. Hi.

    Yes, that's the design.
    There are several jaws to choose from, but the handle part is basically the same.

    I'd assume that copies and imitations of that geometry/design do exist nowadays, so it should be possible to find a suitable cheaper pair of vice-grips to mod.

    Even in Your neck of woods.

    Nothing major wrong with the box sheet metal vice grip You used, but the geometry for that application is chosen for relatively low pressure/large opening, and the jaws for the clearance.
    Those design goals make it less stable and less precise for the converted use.

    In all fairness, I've been making all kinds of tool mods and makeshift tools from late 70's, so all the hundreds of failures have forged me a bit for perfection ;).

  11. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  12. I know it's not necessary, but if your buying a clamp, there would be no cost difference (if any, very little), and I like the idea of a uniform press. The OP's clamp is very well executed, but I feel like there is a slight chance that the outside edge of the press won't get full pressure and leave the fret slightly out of the slot. It's an easy fix, but I would just prefer it to be a vertical press.

    This being said, I'm sure that there are ppl here that have a lot more experience (you included Hopkins). This is just my engineering mind working.
  13. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    That's something i'm affraid of, i hope i can avoid that by using the technique of pressing with a smaller radius than the actual radius first, sitting the frets at the ends, then press with the correct radius for final sitting
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    The thing is, the C clamp would be pretty clumsy compared to the vice grip style clamp. Its more of an ease of use type of thing.
  15. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    I have a 1/2 ton arbor press that I've been holding the stewmac caul in place and pressing it down. Kind of akward, so I'm totally going to try drilling out the center and adding a set screw. I'm too cheap to spend the $100+ for an from stewmac. Although the spring recoil would be nice.
    Plus, I don't like limiting myself to a press/clamp that limits the width of neck that I can press frets into. Just finished up a 7 string that my press worked great on.
  16. E_Z_Points


    Mar 11, 2019
    Hi, I know this is an old thread but, i thought I would mention, the model of Facom grips StewMac uses is the 506A. This can be seen in their YouTube video. That tool is available world wide from here:
    FACOM 506A - Hinged long-nose lock-grip pliers | Mister Workerâ„¢
    This is, certainly, the better tool to mod, because both the original jaws are held in with pins and are removable, facilitating easy insertion of the mods, no cutting or welding required.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.