I'm working on a 30 year old, ebony fretboard. I have removed 1 fret that was difficult and a bit chippie. I used heat but it still was like pulling lions teeth. I am considering increasing the heat with a 100W soldering gun instead of a 50W pencil, any other suggestions please : >)

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Let me know how it works for ya'...It realy helped on a recent " Teeter " epoxy refret...
Thank you all for your help and comments. Everyone's input was applied to this job in an effort to make it go easy. Having done a few ebony boards in the past (but mostly rosewood and maple), I haven't had the problems this fret board posed. Unfortunately, this guitar has been neglected over the years and poorly cared for. The fret board, obviously, was extremely dry and difficult to work with, even after treating it with lemon oil and wicking water under the frets to the slots.

Acids from hands sweating on the board were obviously a factor since frets 3 through 15 were the most difficult. Frets 1 through 3 and 16 through 22 were reasonable. In my opinion, if you have an ebony fretboard, treat it annually with your favorite oils to preserve the resiliency of the wood for future preservation and fret work.

All the right steps were taken to remove the frets in this particular situation. I maintained a little pressure on the truss rod to relieve the fret tangs for removal. Though it will be a time consuming job, I intend to repair this board through careful repair matching and filling, and unfortunately, gluing in the new frets. I can't take a chance on a fit I feel would be tight enough to hold the frets in for fear of more damage during fret installation. I will use either Hide or Tightbond so the frets can be removed in the future. Though the jury is still out for a lot of luthiers and repair techs on gluing in frets, I will minimize squeeze out to maintain contact between the fret crown bottom and the fret board. This will help maintain a good string-fret-board-neck to body coupling for tone and sustain.

I did consider replacing the fretboard but the aged finish around the binding is beautiful and I would prefer not to upset it with a fret board replacement.

I will follow up and post a photo of the finished job

As for The Fishin Musician, I like the idea of making the fret part of the heating circuit instead of just applying heat. I'm going to try this out on one of my cadaver guitars. I guess if you smell wood burning, it's hot...............just kidding. Wick a little water under the fret with a Stew-Mac pipette and you should be good to go.

Thanks again to you all : >)
A couple more tips on the solder gun heater...I just brush a bit of water with a small paintbrush, doing a couple frets at a time..It wicks right in..On Ebony or rosewood, you can quickly see the moisture evaporate along the fret edges..That's plenty hot..I also filed a couple indentations in the legs to hold them on the fret..If you slip with the gun, the legs don't hold enough heat to damage a maple finished fingerboard..If you slip with a pencil type gun, well, guess what !...Do a couple dozen frets on your cadaver, you'll develop the technique..
if you put a groove in the gun with a round file it will stay on the fret better. wait for the smell and go slow. them make a batch of ebony dust to fill the chip outs i like a little dam of teflon in the fret slot to prevent the glue from closing the fret slot
As my picture may suggest, I have lots of experience refretting this particular model and vintage of guitar and have worked out the kinks over the years. I too use a modified gun that uses the fret to complete the circuit. I don't use water. What's very helpful is filing your fret-lifters so they have a very shallow bevel and a V-shaped opening. This brings the fret up at a shallower angle which allows for cleaner fret-extraction. Does this make sense?
Here's a couple pics of my fret-lifters.

If the frets have not been glued, I cannot see what good heating them does.


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