this dude was pretty smart. check this fret saw out!
behold the awesomeness:
apparently this dude also invented the aluminum neck guitar with stereo outputs:
"and O.W. Appleton creates the "APP" guitar, the first electric sold-body to resemble a present-day electric guitar. He shows it to Gibson. They reject the concept of a solid-body, traditionally-held, guitar." this was in 1941. here's the guitar he showed them:
Looking at the site, there seem to be other missing pieces on that saw.
There is also a guitar with slanted frets, which seems more likely to be an accident (IMHO), perhaps it wasn't that great an invention.
That fret saw is old, dirty, rusty, and falling apart. I still have it.
The slanted frets weren't an accident. But they were difficult to make. It was an attempt to leave the bridge straight. Actually, it was much easier to just slant the bridge. As you said, it wasn't that great an invention.
When I worked at OMI [Dobro] in the early 70s we had a similar gangsaw that John D. must have cobbled together years before. There was a sled that held the fingerboard and slid across the spinning blades, as I recall. It had numbered metal spacers that went between each blade. One time after the blades came back from being sharpened, the doofus who reassembled it switched two of the spacers. After running a stack of boards, they brought them to me to fret. I looked at the mistake and said "we can't use these." The reply was "Well, what if we just use them on squarenecks?" I held my ground and they had to trash them. At least they weren't Brazilian rosewood...
The Levin company in Sweden had a similar device with 21 circular saws making slots in all the fretboards used on a variety of guitar models. 630 mm string length was a Levin standard. In the early 1940 ies, all the fretboards had an error of about +-1 mm in the first four frets. All of them! Until someone noticed it and tuned up the machine :-)
Wild seeing this old post pop up again! Yeah, it's a nifty solution, and I admire the chutzpah in building it, and I especially like that the fret slots would be radiused like the board, but I'm not sure that I would want to use it without a lot of ancillary jigs to keep me far away.
Again, thanks for sharing, four years in the future!
Some really good thoughts here. I still have this saw. Instead of just copying an existing scale, I calculated the spacers for the scale we wanted to use. The fret boards were not wood, but black Plexiglas, to mount on aluminum necks. These were made about 1968. The necks were pushed through the saws by hand, and yes, disaster struck. It was powered by a 1/2" drill motor with the handle mounted in a hole in the base. the bearing support (on this end in the picture) was wood, and one day it broke. The saw swung around and climbed his hand and arm, then his shirt, but his tie wrapped around and stalled the motor before it got to his face. It did badly cut the back of his thumb, and other cuts. That's when he made that aluminum bearing holder (pictured).