I am becoming more involved in instrument repair and its time I moved on to more serious and accurate fret work. I have been looking at some tools and trying to decide if it is worth the expense now or ever to purchase these tools. I am looking for advice from some guys that have a little more experience, any help or discussion would be appreciated.
I was thinking of purchasing the neck jig from SM. it seems that this jig will help me do accurate fret work with ease and decrease my chances of having to redo a fret job. I have a small shop so I would have to do some serious organizing to fit this in my shop. Obviously luthiers have operated without this for a long time but I feel like times are changing and the "required" tools are becoming more advanced. Yes you can do accurate fret work without some of these innovations but as technology advance shouldn't I/we, especially for a new guy who plans on doing this for the next 50 years.
The other thing, and more immediate, purchase descsion is pressing in frets. I was thinking of purchasing the Fret Jaws. I have difficulty with hammering in frets. I know it takes practice to become eeficent at hammer in and I will still have to hammer them in over the body. I feel like the press in method is something that I will eventually want to master to get more accurate fret jobs specifically with bumpy necks that need compression fretting in order to straighten out. So I was thinking of buying the jaws and start usig them for most of my fret work. Maybe it will be a little easier and accurate then hammer in... At least for a new guy. I am sure you guys who hammer in are efficient at that because you hav been doing it for a long time but if you had to start from scratch would you start with the jaws?

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Anyway, Mom is the grandchild of Frank J Callier. Repairman for David Rubinoff, but also built his "folding voilin" (which he took full credit for and apparently "failed" to mention my great granpappy being the one to actually build it). Made a bow for Einstein, etc.

Robert, it was so nice to go look at the Elderly site. I wish the 30 word descriptions were 200 words instead, with a ton more pics too.

Who here would not have wanted to see a 'teens' Gibson mandolin neck go on a table saw to be cut in half down the middle!???  

And the pics of those tools are SUPER cool. I also have bought two lathes in the last month, one of them a tiny one from Canadian tire that I got used for 50 bucks, and a huge floor model one. The small one I was just going to sell till I saw the 'pickup winder'! 

I would love to see a bunch of Elderly's  other tools too!.

Thomas, thanks for posting that pic too. Stuff like this (and these EXCELLENT Threads) help to build this Forum. We will never be the GAL, but that wasn't Frank Ford's mandate anyway I am willing to bet.

Since everyone is talking again I thought I'd let everyone know that I bought the jaws 2 and they seem very useful. A lot more set up then the orginal jaws seems. But I feel like for clamping and doing the tongue and stuff this tool is perfect. I think down the road i may by the orginal jaws but for right now i think a hammer some pads and the jaws 2 i can tackle most any job. Anyway I have some practice to get to.
I also bought the fret bender... I think I lost on that gamble seems way to expensive for what it is and LMI sells one for significantly less. Bending by hand seems to not be an option thought I get very uneven frets and crimps.

Hey Luke,

You should've made your own fret bender. Everybody does.

They can be reverse engineered just by looking at the pictures of them. They take about $15-$20 worth of parts from the local hardware store if you DON'T use a metal plate. My back plate is made of Oak. My buddy made his from 1/2" MDF. I think we (all the repair guys I know) all made our own after seeing Stew-Mac's price. Mine is in its 20th year of service.

Good call on the Jaws 2 :)

LMII also has a Steve Klein fret bender plan for just shy of $6.  Says it can be built for $10 in hardware store materials.  So no need to even compute the measurements.


A fret bevelling file in a block like stew macs is very helpful. I always find it difficult to bevel fret ends freehand and these can make your ends much more uniform, and is faster. I made my own with some oak and files from the hardware store, a 3 and a 6 inch. Make sure the file only protrudes enough to file the fret ends and give the files safe edges, or you could file other things as well. Also, if you have a jointer and would be inclined to use it for the wide 35 degree bevel on these, watch your fingers and make sure your stock is well over length when you do it. Betcha cant guess why I mention it ;)


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