I'm doing my first refret, in fact it's almost done.  One thing I wish I would have done differently, and this is my question...

Should I have sanded over the fret slots to remove the small fraction of the clear finish before putting in the wider frets? 

The width of the jumbo frets is obviously wider compared to the medium frets.  So the wider frets look like they're sitting a little proud on top of the clear coat finish on the neck, so it doesn't look like they're all perfectly flush with the neck.  The frets look decent, but that issue really bothers me. 

I think I'll definitely get a fret press.  Hammering in frets gets quite loud in a condo with neighbors on both sides. 

I should have over radiused the frets a little more, and maybe used a tang expander. 

My guitar teacher had this neck sitting in a closet that he wasn't doing anything with, and he knew that I was starting to do repair work, so he told me to see what I could do with it as far as a refret.  He said if I screwed it up, no big deal.  It's a Warmoth neck, maple fretboard, compound radius. 

Honestly, I'd like to take the frets out and start all over again.  I learned a great deal doing it the first time.  I'm halfway into cutting the nut, and I'm picking up the rest of the guitar today so I can finish the nut (no tuners and no body).

Any tips, suggestions, and constructive criticism is welcome. 


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A fret press is awkward for a compound radius. It's perfect for a perfectly constant radius. I'm afraid that for that job you'll have to keep on hamering.
About the finish problem : for a job like this one, I would sand the finish to bare wood, than seal the wood, than refret and apply the finish. This is the "usual" way. If you don't want to refinish the fretboard, at least try to thin the finish by fine sanding. I've never tried that way, because I always sand to bare wood on a maple neck refret.
Good luck!
Thanks for your input. Didn't think about that with the fret press, unless I had the exact radius for each fret... which would be impossible...correct?

I had thought about sanding it to bare wood because the finish is badly chipping anyway. I didn't really want to mess with it too much since I don't know anything about refinishing, and don't have the resources to do a refinish.

I'm currently cutting the nut. I've already blown two of them, but I'm learning a lot with each one. I can't seem to keep the nut slotting rule still while I mark it :) I'm having a blast with it though.

For now I have 4 different double edge nut slotting files. I'm thinking about getting a whole set of individual files for more accuracy, and better handling.

Thanks Pierre!
Didn't think about that with the fret press, unless I had the exact radius for each fret... which would be impossible...correct?
The usual method when refretting a finished board is to strip before fretting and refinish after, then level, crown, and polish.
What kind of a work space setup would I need for refinishing? I assume most refinishes are spray ons, just curious as to what the usual method is for a refinish like that.
It's time to do some good old fashioned reading & learning.

The answers to all of the questions you've asked are in the following books:,_plans/Building_and_repair:_Finis...

If they aren't already in your personal library, they should be, especially if you're seriously interested in guitar repair. The Repair Guide is considered to be the "condensed bible" among repair guys.

Best of luck with your project (:
Thanks Paul. I have the Guitar Player Repair Guide, 2nd edition. So I'll do some reading until I can get a hold of the newer 3rd edition.
2 views: 1. A good clean surface & slots is the way to go but get it right next time 2.Redo.. but is there a chance of the frets not seating properly?Keep in mind I am not a perfectionist and usually wind up doing # 1.
I'm a novice and damn proud of it!
Thanks for responding Tim. The frets are seated nicely. I took a lot of time cleaning out all of the old glue from the fret slots. I deepened the slots slightly to allow for the longer tang.

... or are you talking about the frets not seating properly because they're sitting on top of finish? I look at it a few different ways too.

1. he knows this is my very first refret, and he said if I screwed anything up... don't worry about it.

2. I am worried about it because I notice it, and I'm worried about dirt and sweat getting under the fret and possibly having problems down the road with it.

3. I can't strip the neck because I can't refinish it at the moment.

4. the neck would look great refinished because of the body it's on.
more pictures
few more
If it were mine and to the point you are I'd use fresh razorblades or really good to cleanly "scrape"w/the grain between each fret till as near 100pct and then sand nicely and stain that sucker.Maple as a fretboard ain't purdy in its natural color for long.Remember, I said if it were mine.I exist outside the box.


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