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Help making fret slotting templates for my circular saw sled....

 I was  recently able to make a sled for my table top circular saw. I bought the StewMac blade also, and have 1/4" acrylic material ready to go. I know I should be able to get a printout of a fretboard off of the net somewhere that I can tape to the acrylic, and use that to make the template notches, but I am quite sketchy on how to do anything more than use a small triangle file to put the notch into the acrylic, and have noticed that closeups of all the Stewmac and LMI templates show a squared out notch. The scales that I need are odd ones, and no one makes them. Can someone show me what I need to know, or do some kinda a photoessay for me? I do want  these templates to be as accurate as possible, and am wondering If I should just be getting someone to make them for me.  I have a duplicate post over on the MIMF.... Thanks for any responses. 

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there is @ w@y to c@licul@te sc@le Ill be b@ck with @ @nswer it is in my school work from RV some where @re you going with f@nned frets sorry some buttons were messed up ill get @ new key bo@rd soon.
Fanned frets? Man, I am hardly fancy enough to do regular frets. I know were I can get fret calculators and such Frank, what I need is to have some pictures of video of one of these being made...
Hey Kerry, I’ll tell you how I made mine if it will help. I used a metal dowel for a round-notch system. I use 1/4 and 1/8 inch dowels for orientation and placement in the jigs I make here in my shop. Even the local home-owner chains have them in the drawers of specialty parts in the hardware department.

If you’re into accuracy - I am - you might want to buy a fine ruler as a standard for your shop. Mine is 1 meter - I’m metric - with 1mm marks its entire length. I love it. But you can get away without one. Just use a fret-calculating program that prints a drawing of your fret placements. The best is to print the entire scale on one sheet of paper. That way any error in your printer is evenly spread over your entire drawing.

If you then calculate a 650mm scale length but your printer makes a 647mm drawing, the frets are still relatively in tune, just for the shorter scale. Or you can even, then, experiment entering scales slightly over 650 till you get the print to come out exactly the length you want.

These kind of programs will often print the drawing over more than one sheet of paper, but I’d stick with one sheet for accuracy. I’ve gotten 11X17 and whatever the 24 inch paper is and cut the width down to fit my printer. Some printers call the setting, “Banner Printing.” My local copy shop sells single sheets of the larger sizes for the price they charge for that size copy. I also always use card stock, so I can’t distort the scale by making creases while working with the paper.

I tape my ruler or drawing onto the clear plastic. I use Lexan cause it shatters less often if I press too hard on my drill press. You must use a drill press for absolutely vertical and accurate notches. I have a piece of MDF attached to the table of the drill. On that I mount a low fence which I make absolutely flat/straight along its edge. I do the same to an edge of the plastic. These are “musts” by the way.

Sliding the plastic along the edge of the fence, I drill a row of holes the same diameter as the orientation dowel I’m going to use on my sled. The row is made about a half inch in from the edge of the plastic. I drill one for a zero fret that will later become the edge of the nut slot and another to make a slot that will become the end of my fingerboard by the soundhole.

At this point you have to read the instructions for the sled from Stew-Mac. My memory is that you have to decide where to put the dowel on your sled remembering that as you make your fret slots the fingerboard needs room to move to both sides of the notch and still stay on the sled at all times. My sled is long.

My dowel was gently hammered into a hole in my MDF sled’s fence. After drilling that hole, I made a cut along the length of the fence piece that left slightly over 1/2 of the dowel’s diameter in the MDF for a good hold. That gets you the sled’s pin standing up and embedded in the fence. You also have to cut the plastic along it’s length absolutely straight and going through all your holes at the half way point - the real diameter.

You have to think about “Body English” on this. Things like eye orientation being the same when lining up the drill bit to make the holes dead-on-the-mark in the plastic. Also the dowel set at less than 1/2 exposed on the sled never matches exactly the size created of 1/2 holes on the edge of the plastic. In use you need to always then keep sideways pressure in your hands in the same direction on the plastic against the fence of the sled, again, as kind of Body English. Also you should know that you’ll have to make a few plastic templates and even revise your sled at least once till you get it dead on and checking out on an electronic tuner on a finished instrument. Then you’ll start waking up in the middle of the night thinking about how different manufacturer’s string diameters push the third string’s frets out of tune this way or that cause some make wound thirds and some don’t. Sheesh! . It’s the reason the best makers settle in on one maker’s certain-tension sets and toss the wrappers in the case upon delivery.

Enough words. Hope they help.  Bon Chance!

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