I've been going around a bit, trying to improve my tool box when and where I can. And of the few fret files I have, I'm thinking there must be a better one out there. So, all you experienced Luthiers out there, who makes YOUR favorite fret file?

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Cant Saw file and a smaller fine triangle. I am not a fan of crowning files as I cannot see my work progress. I do have the diamond offset crowning for hard to reach spots.

After 14yrs I tried a Diamond knife sharpener , its a 4 sided block which I got from a local german supermarket . It is amazing , it hogs off the bulk of the wear in a few minutes and then you turn it to the next side which gets progressively finer , then I use stew mac diamond crowning files also amazing . I mark the fret tops with black felt pen to highlight progress . Fret dressing now takes about 1/3 the time and much less sweat.

Harbor freight sells 4 sided diamond sharpening blocks.  I've used one for a long time.  handy for honing chisels, too.  It even has a base to hold it for that.


That sounds like the same one .

We may use any of the Stew-Mac diamond files depending on the application or a cant file at times too.  Love the diamond stuff in so much as it also works in both directions.

I use a small Grobet triangle file made safe by grinding the corners smooth for most of the heavy work.  This is followed by series of small profile diy sanding blocks w/sandpaper applied.  I cut pieces of Maple 3" Lx2"Wx1/8"thick) with a 3/32" concavity milled into one of the 3"edges. I spray contact cement on the block and sandpaper is stuck to it and molded into the concave by pressing a 1/16" drillbit into it.  Then the sandpaper is pressed against the other side of the block.  I have 4 of these blocks with progressively finer abrasive on them.

I have a selection of needle files with various profiles that I like using. otherwise a 2nd cut or fine triangular file, my ATO used to have a fit if we apprentices ever called it that, "It's a ******* three square file for ***** sake!" he would chide us. I do have a set of diamond needle files but I prefer using a standard rat's tail no real reason just preference. 


Thanks guys, I guess I'm not so different after all. I've looked at the hundred dollar diamond files they sell at Stu Mac, and wondered. But at present I just don't do enough fret work to warrant such a purchase. That doesn't mean I don't like nice tools and wouldn't mind owning the best, if it really was the end all fret file. But from what I read here, a variety of files is the best option, and what I'm already doing. So maybe I'll wait until Christmas to buy the diamond crowning file?
I dont think there is a be all-end all fret file (or any luthiery tool). But Id say the best all around file is a medium triangular file like stew-mac's. i have the 300 grit straight diamond crowning file they sell and while it can be useful, i still find myself reaching for the triangular file more often than not. Keep it clean and properly stored and it cuts nice and smooth, and you can see what you're doing. I also spray mine with a thin, drying cutting lubricant meant for router bits etc that lee valley sells. It doesnt cause files to clog like wax etc. would and I find it makes a difference. I think its called BladeCoat, made by Bostik.
Now that's what I'm taking about! That's some good advice there on the Bladecoat. That is something I can try, thanks for the tip!
Glad to be of service. I put it on all my files/rasps and the like, not to mention power tool cutters. Combined with good storage it keeps the rust away, in addition to the smoother cutting and other benefits. I f***in hate finding rust on my tools.
I feel ya Andrew, after you've tried so hard to maintain them, and then you see the light rust, most disheartening. I find myself constantly rubbing them all over with super fine paper and light oil.

I can see the principle, It makes great sense, to lubricate keeps wood particles from becoming lodged in the tiny reliefs of the file. Loading it up. So, just like getting muffins out of a pan, a little lubrication makes them pop out. But a wet lube would absorb into the wood, and make it sticky, but the dry, makes perfect sense. I could kick myself for not thinking of it before! And if it prevents rust, well that's reason enough to use it right there!


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