This saw (0.020" kerf) for cutting fret slots?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rwkeating, Dec 28, 2019.


  1. rwkeating

    rwkeating

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    Usually the recommended kerf for cutting fret slots is 0.023". I got a flier from Woodcraft advertising a sale price of $19.99 on this saw (see link.) This web page doesn't reflect that price, but you can read about the saw here:
    GYOKUCHO - Kataba Saw 255mm No. 105 with Replaceable Blade - Gyokucho

    I have a StewMac fretsaw that I'd like to replace with one that cuts better. I find it often sticks and jitters while cutting. I do not use a fret slotting jig so any saw with the correct kerf would work for me. Would this one do the trick?
     
  2. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    With a steady hand, could work. I love how Japanese pull saws cut, but find them hard to “steer” if it wanders off line, maybe just lack of practice. I think you’d still need a fence of some kind, I know I couldn’t eyeball fret slots even with a scribed line, maybe you can. I’ve seen Japanese joinery that’s unbelievably precise, so it’s possible.
     
  3. My concern is that by fretting using that saw, you may induce a back bow. I shoot for a dead flat neck before and after fretting. It may not be an issue. Someone will drive by that's used one. Good luck whatever you decide.
    Edit: a good price on that saw.
     
  4. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I've fretted a few instruments. I always used a hacksaw blade - chosen so that the kerf was about the same size, maybe a tiny bit bigger than the fret tang's width. I used epoxy to hold the frets in place (not an interference fit). That avoids the back bow issue altogether, ad the removal (should you ever want to remove the frets) is the same - heat them up and pull them.
     
    bobdabilder likes this.
  5. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn

    Jul 15, 2008
    I had the same question. Note that the blade width is .02, with no mention of the set or final kerf. If it had any set, it could work. Most Japanese saws have a small set. I just bought the stewmac Japanese fret saw, but haven't used it and would return if this worked, as replacement blades are available.
     
  6. dwizum

    dwizum

    Dec 21, 2018
    Try some test cuts and measure with feeler gauges and/or see what it takes to seat a fret in them. I have tried a lot of non-luthier saws for fretting and in general the only thing that has been consistent is a total lack of consistency in terms of advertised kerf or other dimensions.
     
  7. rwkeating

    rwkeating

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    I mark the line with an awl and then slowly make it wider until it makes a groove that the fret saw will not wander or fall out of. It is extremely slow going but I've got it to work without a fence.

    My concern also.

    I had to look these up to clarify them in my mind but I am still confused.
    width -how wide the blade is
    kerf -the width of the groove cut by the saw
    set -distance the saw tooth is bent away from the saw blade.
    Doesn't a saw blade with width X have a kerf of X regardless of set? Help!

    If I commit to buying the saw, I would certainly do the testing. I just didn't want to buy it if it didn't work for for fretting.
     
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  8. dwizum

    dwizum

    Dec 21, 2018
    Often the quoted width is the thickness of the stock the blade was made from, and the set is what determines the kerf. Only a blade with no set will cut a slot (nearly) the same as it's width.
     
    rwkeating likes this.
  9. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn

    Jul 15, 2008
    Correct. The kerf is the blade thickness plus two times the set. The set is determined per side. With no set, a saw can bind whereas the set allows for better chip removal.
     
    rwkeating likes this.
  10. rwkeating

    rwkeating

    Oct 1, 2014
    Chicago
    none
    Interesting. The StuMac saw appears to have either no set or very little set. I guess that is why I experience binding with it.
     
  11. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn

    Jul 15, 2008
    With high tooth count saws, the set is naturally much smaller. The stewmac saw had a small amount of set.
     
    rwkeating likes this.
  12. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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