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I have to remove a MOTS fretboard: What do you think I should do?

  This job seems to me to be a nightmare waiting to happen. How in the world do you heat a fretboard to the point of removal without 'potato chip'ing the M.O.T.S.? 

 Adult supervision required here I am afraid... 

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I wouldn't heat it for fear of damaging the already-beyond-its-predicted-lifepan-mother-of-toilet-seat celluloid.   I'd probably pry things apart at the neck-to-board joint, and hope for the best, with the intent of re-gluing the board in place.

I've known folks who take the fingerboard apart by pulling all the frets, carefully prying off each piece of MOTS, and later putting the whole puzzle back together on a new board.  Me, I'm too old for that job. . .

agree with frank

What Frank said. 

I've had success pulling boards from these 'cheapo' guitars from the 30s and 40s (I'm assuming it's one of those), and generally speaking, they're not glued on all that well and can peel off easily.

I use a thinned and rounded spatula (learned it on frets.com) and work from the ends, and as I go in, I swing the spatula from side to side, which helps to get a clean separation along the edge of the board.  Slow and steady, though.  I may score the seam between the neck and board with a razor, too.  If needed, try an alcohol lamp to heat the spatula a bit if you get to a tough spot, but they usually come off well for me.

Yes, I know a guy who restores a lot of these, and he's been known to remove the mots piece by piece, but he's paid for the labor...

Wondering why the board must come off?  To plane it flat?  If so, I'd highly recommend that you install a few carbon fiber rods while you're at it, makes those punky necks nice and stiff.

I've posted some images of that task here a while back.  Good luck,,,Tom

I've removed the MOTS piece by piece and pulled the fingerboard on a couple MayBell tenor banjos to install carbon fiber truss rods.  It was tedious, but the customer paid well for the work.  While I'd do it again I hope it's not soon.  Also, the old MOTS doesn't refret well (It probably didn't in the first place either.)  I quickly learned to take all the barbs off the fret and glue them in place.

 I now have a small stack of 23 MOTS pieces. . The fretboard now comes off... 

..so how'd you get the pieces off?  Tom

lighter fluid & 1 match and step back

 It was actually pretty simple. I took off the binding, then got a hairdryer I have used for all kinds of jobs, and heated 3 of the pieces at a time,(after numbering them of course) It was pretty easy, I used my smallest spatula, and it took maybe 15 mins. None of the pieces broke either. It is pretty likely that I wall radius the fingerboard also, although that will mean the binding on bass side (the dots are the problem) will need to be replaced , Since this is also a 20s axe, the tiny banjo frets are going to be redone with some much more substantial. 

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