I am doing my third refret right now. I just got the Jaws2 from StewMac (the Bessey clamp fret press), and am using it for the first time on this guitar (an Eastman OM). I hammered previously.

My question: If I slide the corner of a .002" piece of receipt paper along the lower edge of the fret crown where it should rest on the fingerboard, and it occasionally slides under in some spots, is this a big deal? I also have been sliding a thicker .005" piece of paper along the frets and it almost never fits under the crown.

I'm running thin superglue under all frets after pressing, trying to get the press back on them as soon as I can after the glue goes in, and leaving it for 20 minutes or so.

The other two guitars I have refretted play well, but I want to improve wherever possible.

I'm not a frequent poster, so if I've broken any protocol, please don't hesitate to let me know! I did a quick search for "seating frets" before posting this. I appreciate any help you guys can give!


Tags: fret, frets, jaws, jaws2, press, pressing, seating

Views: 2944

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


I'm just anwering the question originally posed with as much information germane to the subject as I can fit in for consideration and so on.   I don't get to have as much time these days to go over the forum in detail and my sense of humor has been somewhat diminished by the pressure of work eating into my inherit laziness and idle ways. 

So, my general  apologies are extended for now and anytime in the future to cover anything I may say or infer and as they say in Frankies song:    "refrets, I've had a few"...."but then again to many to mention"


I didn't read the other replies, yet so forgive me please if any of this is redundant.

We press all of our frets with the Jaws II tool too and also teach classes in fret work and set-up and one of our classes (fully booked) is this Saturday.  It's likely that we have used the Jaws II tool for hundreds of fret jobs and I used it too on all the guitars that I built except for the first 10 or so.

It's a great tool and we like ours so very much that we also had custom made caul sets starting at a 6 and going all the way to flat with 26 pieces I believe.

One of the things that I wanted to add is that not only is slot preparation key to any decent fret job regardless of hammering, pressing or both but so too is wire choice.

In the builder world we often take a three corner file and break ever so slightly the edges of the fret slots for two reasons.  The first reason is we believe that come refret time chamfering this edge ever so slightly may.... help reduce or prevent chipping.  Next not all fret wire is created equally.

We are not Dunlap fans and instead prefer, greatly I will add, Jescar wire for consistency AND where the bottom of the crown meets the tang with Jescar the transition point, the filet if you will is much more minimal than it is with Dunlap.  What this means is that breaking the slot edges is not necessary to fully seat Jescar wire in our experience leaving only the consideration of serviceability and future refrets as the lone remaining justification for breaking this edge.

A fully seated fret should not let any feeler gauge under the crown.  With Jescar wire our frets are fully seated every time with the added benefit that if the board was properly leveled the final leveling when the frets are all in place only need kiss the fret crowns to ensure contact with minimal material removal.

I read that you use CA for gluing, we do too.  But I also read that you press with the Jaws tool but likely do not use it to clamp your frets when using CA.

We use the Jaws tool a second time to clamp our frets immediately after running that bead of SUPER thin CA and watching it wick up the other side.  Then the Jaws tool is snugged down and we use accelerator to set off the glue.  We work in a direction where spraying the accelerator does not inadvertently contaminate the next fret we want to glue preventing the CA from wicking properly.

The glue is insurance and in no way used to hold a fret in place, down, or hold pesky ends down.  We want our frets fully seated prior to gluing and then use CA, clamping and accelerator as added insurance.

By the way with some clever thought a Jaws tool can do every fret in every location on most instruments including arch tops with elevated extensions.  We have a proprietary jig for the Jaws II that Dave Collins invented and we give these away to our students who take our classes along with some other useful things and some swag too.

Lastly and going back a bit when refretting the slots need to be clean and unobstructed.  Stew-Mac has some great tools for this that you can go to school on and make your own.  The two headed fret slot saw is great too and I use mine frequently.

Hope something here is helpful.

Thanks, Hesh.

You mentioned wire choice---any particular thoughts on my choice specifically? I had slots measuring around .021-.023". The tang on the old wire was .020-.021", and its barbs were around .034" (there had been some "whacking" done on all the frets on the bottom edge of the tang, which I assume was intended to make them hold better---my measurement could have been affected by these. I'll take some more measurements of the old wire later tonight if it will help make things clearer). My wire was Jescar Evo, with a .020" tang and .032" barb. I was set on the Evo because of its hardness and didn't carefully consider that a wire of a different size may have been a better fit. LMI only had one kind of medium Evo fretwire, so I just ordered it, assuming that using the fret expander tool would make up for the fact that this wire was a little smaller than ideal. Was this a wrong assumption?

My frets are all done, so now I'm just thinking over what I've done and hoping to learn from mistakes and do better next time. I am happy with how it looks, though. (Still need to make a nut and saddle to really see how it turned out.) As I mentioned in another reply, my Martin 000-15m also has frets that allow a receipt paper to slide underneath, so it can't be the end of the world, though I definitely want to sort this out and improve fret seating in the future.

I did clamp some of them with Jaws after putting CA in the slot, leaving them for a few hours. Didn't keep good notes on exactly what was done to which frets, though, so I can't really assess which methods worked best. Will try to do that next time.

Years ago I watched a Dan Erlwine video where he oversized the fret slots and then clamped and epoxied 3 at at time.

I've schemed on a fret press that could be operated by foot pressure, the linkage would be like a wine cork installer. If I get beyond scheming I'll post pics.

I've always had a problem with using a tool with the word  ton in the description, on guitars. I have an old clamp that I modified to clamp frets.It works very and and has the added benefit that you can leave a fret clamped in it until the glue dries.

Although I've used CA glue, I was taught to use PVA glue for frets. It works better than you'd expect and the clean up is easier. HHG might be a good candidate for gluing frets in, has anybody used it? 

Russel, you're asking questions which is a good thing. Too often tools are bought with the expectation that the tool will do the job perfectly. If it doesn't the tool can be blamed. When I teach a tool sharpening seminar at Lee Valley, I make it clear that the tool will help, but, there is a skill level involved, your results will get better over time. 

Yeah, I definitely have a lot to learn in terms of learning to use the Jaws2, especially on the upper frets. I did my best to make proper cauls for clamping around the braces under the high frets, but I have no experience with this. There were some scary noises when clamping up and I really could've used an expert looking over my shoulder during those moments to keep me from going wrong. I created some small cracks on the back of the guitar when I clamped against it, thinking my clamp would be supported by the neck block. It might be just the finish.


© 2024   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service