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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Here's that wild fret press I saw on the Elderly site :

That is a fun page of info. Hmmm... and, Thanks.

I've only done about 20 or so refrets but I'd like to suggest also getting the 12" straight edge and the 8"sanding beam. Sometimes the longer straightedge can obscure what's happening.  The 8" beam is great for spot leveling to minimize wood removal.

I have the Jaws 2 and I'm glad I have it.   I do find it hard to seat the first couple of frets because it wants to lean and It's also a little slow, but that's probably my inexperience. I would like to try the Jaws 1 for comparison.

I like the sanding sticks for cleaning up after the cant file. 

I find it helpful to use feeler gauges with my slotted straightedges and take notes. When adjusting the truss rod finds no sweet spot and leaves several non-contiguous gaps the notes are especially helpful.

FWIW: Here's a shot of a fret job I am doing today with the Jaws 2.  I am gluing in the frets. I found that shaving 3/8" off each side of the neck caul makes easy access for dropping the glue into the slots. I seat the fret, then rotate the neck in the vice for the glue process. Two drops each side and at each end seems to work well. My hillbilly screwdriver mod can seen here as well. That Bessey clamp gives my hand a rash after a while. - Cheers.

I like the hillbilly screwdriver mod!  I've been thinking about embedding a socket head screw into the end of the Jaws 2 handle then using either a socket wrench with a hex bit or a T-handle hex wrench. The screwdriver trick might be all I need.

I just tried running superglue under the frets with them clamped with Jaws 2, but with the neck horizontal. I glued the brass caul insert to the fret. It's difficult to to see and manoeuver the CA whip tip with the caul in place.

Take control. Pipettes !

Those whip tips are great!  The guitar can lay nearly flat on the bench while you glue and you have a little time to clean up the excess glue and then clamp (with an arbor press or original jaws anyway, I can't speak to the newer jaws spin-offs because I haven't used them).

Check out photos 14-20 here for my routine:

Robbie what we do is wick very thin CA under the fret (just a bead on one side) and you can see it appear on the other side if the CA is thin enough.  A quick wipe with a paper towel to get the excess off and then the pre-positioned Jaws II and the appropriate caul are clamped in place and then we hit it with accelerator.  We do this opperation in a direction where the accelerator overspray won't contaminate the next fret in the direction that we are working.  Even though it's "thin" CA CA that's not fresh won't wick well and is not ideal for this procedure.

Having everything prepositioned helps in that you want to move quickly due to the set time of the CA.

This way the clamp and caul are not in the way of your sight when applying the thin CA.

If you get the technique down, remove the excess with a paper towel, very little clean-up is required.  We scrape and sand the board anyway but it's nice to not have to remove a fillet of dried CA next to a fret....

Robbie, for thin glue; I am a pipette user as well. Both from top along the bead as described by the other guys, and sideways from bottom ends. Sometimes I use medium CA, and other glues, in the slots before fretting. When using CA medium I will mask off the slots with Scotch/Magic transparent tape. Glue, press, remove tape, clean.  Seems like I gotta keep trying new things. Never ending evolution of solutions.

I ended up adding a whip tip to my pipette. Might take a pic if my Mom ("never going to the hospital again (circa 1979)" Get's ok and I can keep a camera steady again.. Go Rob's Mom ! (knocking on any hardwood in the workshop). Yes, much appreciate it, you're well wishes.

Crap hell, half my post didn't show up. What a lovely time limit we have. Peace !!!!


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