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Leveling frets - flat edge or radius block?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by fourstringdrums, Apr 2, 2005.


  1. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I was looking around on Stewmac and online for tips on fret leveling, and there is one thing I'm confused on. When you level the frets, do you use a flat edge beam or file like this:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Fretting_tools:_Fret_dressing,_polishing/Aluminum_Radius-sanding_Beam.html

    or a radius block like this:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Fretting_tools:_Fret_dressing,_polishing/1/Fretboard_Radius-sanding_Blocks.html

    I've seen that its about 50/50, and some people use both..with the flat edge first and the radius block last. Which is the best way?

    Also, if using a flat edge tool like this, that isn't is wide as the fretboard, how do you make sure that both sides of the fretboard are equal?

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Fretting_tools:_Fret_dressing,_polishing/Fret_Leveling_Files.html

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    I've only ever used a flat piece of glass (with sandpaper applied) for leveling. I've heard of other things being used but at every shop I've worked in that's what we've used. You can get a piece for less than 5 bucks at a glass shop. The width only matters for comfort in your hand since using a flat thing to surface a round thing means you're going to have to move across the face of the fingerboard to completely level the frets.

    As far as files go... if you need a file to level your frets you're probably not getting the fingerboard true enough or not seating the frets very well. If the frets are set in well you'll only need to brush them with sandpaper to make sure they are level.
     
  3. Interesting, what grit sandpaper do you use Scott ? (if you don't mind me asking)
     
  4. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    Are you talking about how I mentioned these? http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Frettin..._dressing,_polishing/Fret_Leveling_Files.html

    These are made to level the frets, so why can't they be used?
     
  5. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    I usually use 320 to level.

    The files can be used, they will just take meat off the frets a lot faster than sandpaper and that's not really needed if you put the extra time into leveling the board and seating the frets well..
     
  6. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    Oh ok, I thought the sandpaper and those files will do the same thing..I know they're cheaper :) So can a radius block be used without problem? It seems that it would cover the area you need easier and quicker. Also, if you use glass, block or beam that isn't as wide as the board, you have to level in a few different spots to cover the whole area. How do you know that you didn't miss a spot or level one area more than another?

    I probably won't tackle this for a few months. The crowning files and other tools are damn expensive. I'm also going to get that Dan Erlewine Fretting Basics DVD as well.
     
  7. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    Oh, and what length of glass do you use? Do you just get sandpaper at a hardware store and wrap it around the glass and tape it?
     
  8. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Why glass? Is it because it's a very level surface or will it bend eventually?
    thanks.
    john
     
  9. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I'm assuming because of it being almost perfectly level.
     
  10. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    That's kinda what I figure also.