I have already done a few refrets and I always had trouble with spillage while wicking the glue into the slots on bound fingerboards. What is the best way to mask the area? This far the best thing that worked for me was masking tape on each side of the fret and acetone dampened paper towel. But you still have to be swift - apply, wipe and remove the paper. However sometimes it works better than other times. I've already noticed that acetone only makes goo out of CA and does not remove it in just a single swipe. Nitromethane remover or ketones aren't available here for me. I want ease of use with as little clean up as possible

Second, how do you introduce glue into the slot?

Thank you very much.

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 Well Tadej the way i do mine i buy the 56ml  plastic contaner of super thin ca. and get an extra empty one and just put a little in the bottom of it.

I just put a drop  on  the fret about a 3/4'' in from the end just on one eadge and wip it off  it will run in were you waunt it.

then i clamp it. Then let it dry. then i do the other end the same. I get my super glue from Woodchucker's Supplies he will send you an extra empty container Good luck Bill..............,

I just started with paste wax as Eric Coleman suggests and have been well pleased with the ease of removing the CA residue.


Not all CA's are created equally....

I use quality, fresh thin CA which is important because the thinner the CA the faster a lesser amount will wick around the fret tang.  I apply my CA with micro-pipettes which can be had for a song in bulk if you do a Google search but you may have to buy them by the 500 or so as I do.

Once the pipette is charged (half full ;) not half empty....) I run a small bead starting from the middle of the fret outward.  When I am close to the edge of the board (1/2" or so) I stop squeezing and instead push the CA the rest of the way toward the ends of the fret with the tip of the pipette.  The thin stuff is so very fast to wick that we don't need much at all and one of the best things that we can do for ourselves when using CA to glue frets is to be sure to not use too much...

What I am looking for is the CA to wick under the fret and be slightly visible on the other side (wetting of the board next to the fret on the side that we did not apply the CA to).  After applying the CA I may do a quick wipe with a paper towel with some acetone on it or even a dry towel and then quickly clamp, as William does, with a fret press and the proper sized radius fret caul.  If the ends are a possible problem I may use a slightly tighter radius caul to help press the ends down.  Once the clamp is in place I hit the fret with accelerator taking care to do so in the direction of the frets that I already glued in place so as to not contaminate with accelerator the next fret area that I want to glue.

It's a bit of an assembly line process but works well and by watching the wicking action we have a visual indicator that the fret tang has glue on both sides.

Wiping the glue excess never takes it all off for me either but it does get most of the glue that will form a fillet if left on the board/fret.  To remove the visible excess I scrape with a single edged razor blade and if the fillet is too great I use one of the very small, micro-chisels from Stew-Mac to get the bulk of the fillet and then scrape with the razor blade to remove the excess glue and freshen up the board.

I'm not a fan of CA for lutherie work but find that for frets it's a very good option.

Hi comrades,

Brown shiny plastic box packing tape is my choice and after hundreds of fretting procedures I have yet to find a quicker or better procedure.  The thin flexible tape is resistant to CA and yellow glue and is quick to adhere with minimum pressure.

I start by running a strip along the neck edge each side to guard against CA overflowing from the fret end area and then use two thin strips either side of the fret slot to meet up with these side strips. I press the edge of the tape down close to the slot with my finger tip.    Its easy enough to eyeball the spacing from the slot edge and as the corners of the fret crown are slightly rounded the inserted fret does not tend to grip the tape when it is removed.

I apply a bead of medium viscosity CA direct from the bottle using the standard tip and run it along the slot using the slot as a groove to guide the tip.  I wipe a plastic gloved finger along the bead to sink it into the slot a bit and clean off the excess in one motion and then tap one end of the fret into the slot and finally press in the fret using a fret press jig with the fingerboard vacuum clamped to a sliding indexed platform.  The press is held down for a couple of seconds to allow everything to settle and then the brown tape is  stripped off in one fluid motion and can be reused many times as the CA is wiped clean of the top of the tape in the process. 

NOTE: brown tape adhesive is messy stuff and tends to separate from the tape backing if left for any period of time - this refers to the edge strip of tape used to protect against overflow.  Naptha or Shellite removes this residue with a bit of effort.

This system is fast enough but a bit slow from a production point of view - however, it is effective and works every time for a premium method. 

There are other methods out there equally as effective and PRS for one has a system whereby thin CA is jetted into the gap between the bottom of the fret and the fret slot after the fret has been seated.  This looks like a good idea as well and is a great deal faster and tidier than what I do.

The overall methodology assumes that the CA is used to grip the fret by way of hardening the fret-slots  rebounded endgrain wood around the fret diamonds/cleats and tang area.   Effectively locking the fret into a wood/CA mould.   I do not assume that the CA actually grips the fret surface to hold the fret in place.

That all I know.  Rusty.


Yes, the brown boxing tape is the type of idea I was looking for. I have all the appropriate nozzles and stuff for CA, I can apply very tiny amount and still get it in, but I was having trouble with soaking the masking tape in CA and when you rip it sometimes leaves hard residue. I use a high quality thin CA that is somehow pressure sensitive. It won't cure on air for days but once you squeeze two piece together it cures instantly. I also use industrial grade CA accelerator. Quality-wise I have all of the best stuff available to me, but I'm still methodically a bit confused.

Thanks for the tip Russell, I just went and put CA and cured it on various types of tape to see what will work best. Did a trial on a regular Scotch office tape and it worked well. Now I'll wait for the big guys to see the results :)


I would advise using medium viscosity CA to ease the handling and overflow issue.  Also, and more importantly, thin CA "wicks" or "capilliaries" under tape and around binding and is messy and hard to remove once it has spread.  Medium CA wipes off the protecting tape readily and does not wick in under the tape as much.  It also "bulks" up around the fret in the voids that you are filling and provides a more solid connectivity between the fret and the fingerboard (which is what you want).  R.

I concur with Rusty. I like using medium in the slot before the fret is installed. It has the right control feel for me. I also have taken up the suggestion on the packing tape from one your earlier post Mr. Vance. However, lately I have been using hide glue. The process is different (Erik Coleman Book), and takes longer, but the clean up is easy every time without any worries, especially with binding on old instruments. Every job is a bit different.

I'm quite surprised by all of you actually using CA glue for this. I have used white glue exclusively for this job for going on 20 years. What benefit is there to using CA? I certainly have had no problems at all with white glue...

Loctite makes a great gel control super glue, with a stiff little plastic tip. It's commonly available, and holds very well. The gel eliminates a lot of overflow, and if you do get a bit too much on, leave it alone and pop it off afterwards with a razor blade. The tip is punctured by twisting the little blue cap. So do this, but then take a file or a little emery board, and flatten each side so the tip is a tapered chisel shape. With a little care, it fits right in the fret slot, especially if you bevel them slightly (sorry, a little obvious) and you can fill the slot, or just do dots at the end or middle. The glue is dispensed by squeezing the blue areas on either side. I gotta take one apart sometime to see how that works. Anyway, that's the best thing I've found.      


Hi Kerry,

I don't know that there is much difference in the effect - it's mainly a time thing - the CA goes off fast and the fret stays put quickly -  I suspect one could talk about the water based glues expanding etc and the frets moving a bit but I don't think it's all that relevant to the overall goal of getting a good secure seating for the fret and having a glue that lets go when we need to pull frets.   I recall that gluing frets used to be a topic of some interest and aroused some passionate argument - but nowadays gluing frets in is a standard procedure that we use as a matter of choice. 

I note Thomas James describes his use of hide glue for his fretting - which I can see as having a good gap filling capability and a heat reversible bond (as is CA and yellow glue) which may be a little kinder on old fingerboards and decayed bindings - nice to have as much choice as we do these days.


The benefit of using thin CA and accelerator for me is as simple as time is money.

Since I glue AND clamp the clamp time is minimized to 10 seconds or so with the use of accelerator.  As mentioned in my previous post when one also works in a direction so that the accelerator does not contaminate the fret board where the CA will be applied next one can glue and clamp all frets in a matter of minutes.  I understand that others are gluing too but not everyone also clamps, waits for the glue to set-up, etc.

Lots of ways to do this and lots of claims for how successful one glue or one method is over the others.  I like what I do, what I was taught, because it works very well never leaving me with any loose frets or ends that aren't down, it's fast, easy, and in this method's case we are exploiting the capillary action of very thin CA to do the work for us.  Rusty's excellent explanation of how the glue is not holding the fret but moreover the hardened wood in the slot is holding the fret is right-on in my view too.

There was a claim on another forum that gave us a good laugh in the shop last winter and that claim was that using hide glue in the slots improved the tone of the instrument in a discernible manner....  Wish I could hear that well.....;)  I suspect that those who made this claim were really noticing the difference between the sound of a loose fret and a fret that is well glued in place - now there is a difference there.... that even I can hear.

Well, I'm done with gluing and refretting, I have used regular Scotch office tape and sharpened one edge of a plastic card to squeeze all the air out when sticking it to the board. The idea works wonderfully and even if CA cures completely, no fuss removing it. One thing though, if you're not careful enough some of the glue might seep underneath, but often you only see pores getting a bit wet and doesn't leave any residue at all. Wipe all the glue off before you remove the tape and peel it off sideways, like painters do.

I'm thinking a lot about pregluing slots with gel CA lately, but I'm hammering my frets in so I don't want any splatter or squeeze out and I want to leave the guitar over night to see if any of the frets popped. I'll be soon switching to pressing + hammering combo. I'm always frustrated with bound fingerboards because you cannot wick it on the sides.

I guess I'll be switching to pregluing slots on bound fingerboards eventually.

Here's a pic of it. All of the surronding frets were already glued, don't mind the black spot on the left, it's wood not glue residue :)



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