Okay, guys, I have read and reread everything on the main page, I have seen and read everything Erlewine ever wrote on the subject but I'm still confused.

How do you eliminate the burr that develops when you file down the fret ends, especially the two burrs on each fret that point in the direction of the tang? And how do you manage to file the ends flush and not marr the finish? This is not so problematic on rosewood or ebony, but what about bound necks and finished maple? Anyway I can do that without even touching the finish? Let's forget about complete refrets, let's focus on frets that just stick out, where we can't avoid filing it down as is and say "hey I'll file down to bare wood and just refinish it".

Please don't take this as a noobish question, I am only trying to improve on details as much as I can. Till this day I have used an xacto knife with a fresh blade and lifted every single burr and broke it off but I got a bit tired of it because every now and then there's a burr I can't get underneath without scoring the area around it lightly.

Draw filing doesn't help me either, it scores the lacquer no matter what.

I have even tried different files, I am using final cut, single-cutting flat machinist file, I can't get it any finer and more expensive than these, so I as far as the files go, they are all straight and very smooth.


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I go most of the way with files and then go further with a sanding block with 400. I am simply careful enough not to get into the lacquer, if that's an issue. I think this burr you're referring to is an artifact of a file that's too coarse.

I don't understand what burr you mean either.  Wanna provide a pic or more detail please?

Proud fret ends are a pretty common event especially in climates where we see cold winters and dry homes.  Taking care of proud fret ends is even part of a basic set-up/tune-up in our shop because it needs to be addressed so we do.

We make our own fret end files from a small OO file that then has been subjected to some very heavy duty filing to dull it down even further.  The file, only about 3 inches long is then glued to a wood handle, I like mine to be BRW...;)

Anyway once one of these babies is getting nice to use, meaning very used...., it will skate on the finish and bite the metal fret ends - just what we want to happen.  I never had these results with abrasive papers in that they would bite into the finish as well as the fret ends.

What you might want to try is is getting a small, very fine file like an OO, grinding a crease in it and breaking it in half so it's 3" long, attaching it to a wood handle, slightly ramp the front and safe the sides and then clamp some stainless in a vice and over the next month or so every time you walk by abuse the thing until it dulls down.  They work great.  And I learned about these files from David Collins.

Below the larger one is too course to get next to finish but the smaller one will skate on the finish.  Of course, technique is pretty important too including the angles of attack that one uses.

Cool technique,   Hesh! Thanks for the tip :)

I'll 'file' this idea away for future reference. (rim shot & a splash of cymbal).

Have a great one, buddy :)

I think he is talking about a burr at the bottom of the crown, either side of where the tang meets the crown. That burr can be caused by cutting the fret end too close to the FB/binding with the cutters held sideways. It is more likely to appear if the ends are not quite seated all the way. Be sure the frets are seated all the way, cut fret ends (when tang is not present) with cutter opening running parallel to grain of fretboard, wih tang present don't distort fret end when cutting ends perpendicular to the grain. When you are done filing, follow up with 400 grit psa on a short, flat bar. You are going to have to nick the finish a little no matter what, just keep the affected area very narrow and do your best not to burn through the finish. Use tang nippers when refretting maple fretboards or anything else for that matter where you want to keep the finish completely intact.
Thanks for that tip! A clarification, please: "opening parallel to grain" - does that mean handles are vertical?

D. Erlewine emphasizes holding handles horizontal (opening vertical) and clipping 1/32 away from FB.

I admit I've made burrs that were difficult to get remove.

Dan E., on Advanced Fretting DVD, said something about grinding the small SM Fret End File tang to a point to use on burrs but I'm not sure I understand.
The jaws of the cutter are first contacting the top and the bottom of the crown. That allows you to clip the ends closer to the binding without damaging the fret end near the bottom of the crown.

1/32" protrusion would mean a lot of filing if you're working with stainless steel fretwire.

If the tang is present then you can't cut quite as close to the binding because the bottom of the crown will get distorted and you may not be able to file and sand away that distortion.

Working with tang present and or when I'm clipping the ends over the body of a Martin or a Les Paul, I use one of those fretboard guards that stew Mac sells as a spacer between the cutter and the edge of the fretboard. These guards are made from thin stainless steel sheet stock and have the shape of a fret cut out of the center. I have one that I ground very narrow and shorter in length so it can act as a spacer between the binding/edge of fretboard and the cutter.

That's a good idea, Nathan. I have some of those too.

You sir might be spot on on this one. When I did the SS refret a month or two ago, I have cut every fret to size with just a tad of overhang, so I only filed the ends flush without nipping. That one didn't develop excessive burrs on the bottom side of the crown.

Nathan was right, it's the small "dracula" tooth on each side of the fret, here's one of the picture from Franks gallery, notice the burr on the left side of the crown? The one of the right probably broke off during filing or was already non-existent to begin with.

Now I'll get back to dulling my files a little, thanks, Hesh! :)

I use really worn down knife sharpening stones that I found at a flea market to get the fret ends flush. They are really small stones and because they are worn so much they wear the fret wire real nice and don't hurt the finish at all.

Hey guys, just to give you an update on this issue.

I switched over to pressing and I tooled up a bit, just did a complete refret on a bolt-on. Here's my thoughts: file has to be worn out slightly and finish won't get marred. Thanks, Hesh. I also switched to a beveling handle with 15° and 35° slots for my file (similar to SM's quartz/poly block). Works beautifully.

As for the dracula teeth phenomena, Nathan was correct, but I did it slightly differently. I have still cut the ends the same as I did before but I left more overhang and I could clearly see the build-up of nickel-silver that was caused by my cutter. I made sure that the "ramp" was never flush with the board, it has to stick out, then you can file it off completely, eventually. I took a micro-chisel when I was just a few thusands proud from the board and made sure the teeth are gone for good. Got a nice fresh looking fretjob. Starting to like the 15° angle very much too.

You just have to fail in order to succeed :)


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