Hi guys,

I pulled the frets out of my Epiphone ES-335's rosewood fingerboard this weekend.  I used a soldering iron per the usual but I deviated in that I ran a bead of water on either side of the fret before I heated it. This seemed to help reduce chipping but I wondered if this would be considered bad practice. I seem to recall reading of someone doing this but have no idea who or where I might have read it.

Anyone here do this?  Any thoughts?

Many thanks,


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Hi Jon...   I do that same thing most of the time, especially with ebony fingerboards. The steam created under the fret seems to help break the glue bead, but also gives a little "greasin' of the wheels" which seems to aid in reducing chip damage. 

Thanks Mike,

Though I guess it's a bit subjective, it did seem to make a difference for me.

One thing I definitely learned in doing this is that I cant be trusted to watch the spaghetti sauce on the stove and work on guitars at the same time : )

After all these years, I still don't know for sure.  I always use lots of heat (except around celluloid) and sometimes I squirt 409, Windex or water with a bit of detergent beforehand, particularly if the board seems old and prone to chipping.  But does it help?  I really diunno - seems it doesn't hurt, so I continue "experimenting". . .

Hi Jon,

Doesn't hurt is a good criteria, we steam out dents with a wet flannel and soldering iron tip and wood reconstitutes just fine with this treatment - shouldn't be any different for boards..  As a trick for conditioning loose slots after fret removal we  syringe water into the slots and let soak into the end grain to pop out the existing cleat diamonds and tighten up the slot a tadge in preparation for the refret and  superglue gig.   

Turn away if faint hearted:  Gross stuff;    when I have a difficult grunged up board I apply a concave slotted 50 watt iron tip until the green grunge just starts to bubble or steam a bit at the ends and that's my good to go temperature.

Oh, and heats breaks superglue bonds - and superglue is water based so heat and water will do no damage (within reasonable use).  And,  run a scalpel tip under the fret crown and fingerboard junction to help separate any glue or grunge that will grip and encourage chip out - be careful at the ends and avoid overruns.  



run a scalpel tip under the fret crown and fingerboard junction to help separate any glue or grunge that will grip and encourage chip out

That tip right there. Clean fingerboard helps alleviate so many problems.

Thank you guys for your insights and advice.

Frank, I'm guessing your choice of liquids is based on reducing surface tension for better wicking under the fret. Is that the function of the detergent? 

Yep - whatever's handy detergent-wise. . .

I use a bead of water regularly.  Doesn't hurt.  I think it helps, but who knows.  I tried using a bead of water on some frets on a rosewood board and some without.  I think the water helped a bit.


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