I've been using a 6in. file for leveling jobs, and i'm getting a little tired of it.  I'm feeling like it doesn't cover enough span, it chatters when it hits a spot that's really out of level and needs to bite more, and of course it leaves a lot of destruction in its path.  I remove all of the filing marks with a triangle file, come back and check for level, only to need to go over them again or spot level.  I always deliver a completely level board with fully crowned polished frets with no filing marks, but i'd like to speed up the process.  I'm considering grabbing a few rolls of stikit paper and a leveling beam, maybe the middle length offered by Stumac.

I went to diamond crowning files years ago and they changed everything for the better.  How are the diamond fret levelers from Stumac that are basically knife sharpeners?

What are your preferred methods? 

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I'm in a similar boat. I have a 6" file (of the diamond variety) that I used on one practice neck and got good results (or so I think). However, it seems like the beams are better and give more accurate results, so I'm thinking of getting a 16" one or maybe even a 24" (I want to level the frets on my bass). StewMac is a little expensive for me, so I'm looking for alternatives.

One idea I had was to get a scrap piece of marble or granite (which seems to be pretty flat, or flat enough), but the places nearby that cut stone quoted me a price that is similar to what I would pay if I bought a 16" and 24" beams from StewMac.

Another idea is to get a rectangular aluminum tube, like this one:

Then find someone to grind it flat or maybe even use it as is. I was told by MetalsDepot that those tubes have a tolerance of +/-0.01", which is probably how flat a piece of granite or marble would be.

Is this a fool's errand? Is it better to just get a 16" beam from StewMac and use it until I can afford a 24" beam?

Any idea on how to get a flat beam on the cheap will be appreciated.

There is an article in American Lutherie:

Making A Truly Flat Sanding Bar

(scroll down)

Is it worth the $14?

"Is it worth the $14?"

Much More!  

I have learned mountains of information over the years. Everyone can benefit greatly from being a guild member. IHMO.

Thanks. That's good to keep in mind, but as an amateur it's hard for me to justify a membership. I hoped I could just pay for that one issue and view it online to save on shipping costs, but it seems like they offer hard copies only. It does look very interesting though.

 I learned from Winnipeg's Daryl Perry about 20 years ago about using 1 3/4  inch square glaziers grade aluminum tubing for sanding jobs. I have 4 different grades of sandpaper on them two way taped, one on each side.

I have 18 inch, 12 inch, 6 inch, and 2 inch ones, and also a giant 36 inch one with two way taped 100 grip paper just on a single surface that has come in handy more times than I can count.

 There has been at least two separate occasions were, when I found out that a small Luthier's  shop was opening, I cut up 4 tubes, two way taped them with various grits , and gave them to the folks. 

 I do all my fretboard levelling and fret levelling with them. 

How flat were they when you got them (you didn't grind them any further, right?). I'm trying to gauge how flat is flat enough to not worry about it.

Eliya, they were brand spanking new and unmarked when I got them. They were flat as flat could possibly be... 

What exactly us considered glaziers grade? Searching online didn't yield anything. I did find some 6061 aluminum rectangular tubing, but there's no mention of how flat it is.

It sounds like you had your bars for a long time, so I assume you didn't get them online. Is that correct?

 Eliya, you can get it sometimes from some hardware stored. This stuff is what they make certain kinds of industrial windows out of in office buildings. It's for sale in lots of places. 

And it's

6063 Aluminum Square Tube 1-3/4 x 1-3/4 x 1/8 wall

Just cruised McMaster Carr. 3ft of 6063 in that dimension is $22.13.

Aluminum Bar 6063

I looked around and McMaster's rectangle tubes seem to be the flattest -- 0.02" tolerance over one foot. Is this good enough for using as is? Is that flat enough if I then want to go ahead and grind/sand it to be flatter?

Is there any practical difference (for guitar work) between 6061 and 6063? From what I understand, 6063 is more flexible since it's used in construction, but there's no way it'll actually bend under normal pressure while leveling frets, right?


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