When refretting old fretboards the radius can be dodgy. Not exactly a set measure and it may vary over the fretboard. With a compound fretboard that's the rule! I love the Jaws2 press, but the cauls are firm and don't always follow the shape of the fretboard.
Today I came up with this tweak to a 16" radius brass caul. I made eight cuts almost all the way through the caul with a small metal saw to make nine somewhat movable parts (with the set screw on flat metal in the middle). To make it even more bendable I drilled a 3 mm hole in the end of the cut. To give the caul a chance to bend in the Jaws2 tool I put a shim of a soft but hard enough material in the bottom of the groove for the caul. I tried cork and it worked, but settled for raw rubber from the yoga mat I have on my bench. An old fretboard with 7.25" radius was used as an example.
The fret is pressed relly tight with normal force. The caul forms itself to the fretboard radius.
Here is the soft shim under the brass caul (cork and yoga mat). The set screw shall be loose and only as tight it needs to be to keep the caul in place, it has to be movable.
Will be using this from now on. I'll do the same for a 20" caul and that's probably all the radius cauls I will ever need for all the different radius variants :-)
Made the slot in the Jaws2 1 mm deeper with a hack saw. Put 2,5 mm thick leather as shim instead of the rubber. Leather is harder and when testing it it worked very good indeed.
I just remembered Nate Clark made one He used to stop by here sometimes.
I can't take credit for making an adjustable caul. I have made lots of specific solid cauls as the need has come up.
I have considered the adjustable caul many times. I'm guessing maybe Hesh is referring to an idea from Walter wright or someone else in this thread.
The first time I ever saw the idea was 15+ years a go in the old Stew Mac trade secrets book.
Now that David Collins has done the math on a set with small and even increments, and they are available, an adjustable one no longer seams necessary.
I thought I posted some pic's here showing my method for making custom size cauls but I can't find it.
Here are some more.
One size in particular I find useful, but not in Andy's set, (yet?) is a 1 meter radius. I made it for a couple of classical's I built a long time ago. Now I use it frequently on re-frets that have flat boardswith rolled over edges. Rather that take the entire board down, or make frets that hook down at the ends, I make it a 1 meter radius. It's almost imperceptible but works great on many old Mando's that had funky flat boards.
I also stole Walter's magnet idea to make swapping them out quicker as you go down the board. The set screw was a pain.
I hear that Google is working on a self-adjusting, self-positioning caul but they can't get the software to work if it sees an Ov*tion....;)
Thanks David for weighing in. Very cool innovations!!!!
On a related note, I noticed that Jescar offers their verison of the Jaws 1 fret press for significantly less than Stew Mac sells theirs for. It looks a little different, and they say their cauls press in with no set screw.
Has anyone tried it, and does it work as well? Will the stew Mac cauls fit in it?
The Jescar version comes with a paltry four cauls, but I've got two of each of the radii that Stew Mac offer, and soon I am going to pull the trigger on andy Birko's 24 piece Ultimate Caul Set that Hesh linked: http://www.birkonium.com/product/ultimate-fretting-caul-set/
I already have a Jaws 1 and 2, but a second Jaws 1 would be handy to have in my shop, and if Jescar's unit will accept the Stew Mac size cauls, I think I'll get theirs instead and save a few bucks.
Another side note - What ever happened to Jaws 3? remember that one? It looked useful, but disappeared from the Stew Mac catalog before I ever got around to ordering one.
Chris, I find stew mac's jaws 1 a bit cro-Magnon. I don't use mine much. I prefer this DIY rig. nice, light, and controllable. little magnets let me click on a fret caul and a suitable neck back up block and go. It's all about magnets any more! Cheaper too! It's made from the shoe they sell for an arbor press. Just remove a swivel from a small vice grip and use a strong tempered pin or bolt to hold the shoe on. The shims/washers have to be tight to nix any play.
Hi Christopher, fyi, Hand Held Fret Press - Inserts not included$74.99 @ http://www.philadelphialuthiertools.com/luthier-tools . I have stewmac cauls and they seem to fit.
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