This may seem like a pedestrian issue....but I'm curious what methods are used successfully to flush the fret ends when refretting without damaging the old lacquer (or new, for that matter).  I'm close, but I think I can do better.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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I also use an old worn out file, but it's the whole flat file without the handle. It's about 4 cm wide and 30 cm total length. It has two sides, one fine cross cut and the other a fine single cut. I use the cross cut first and then the smoother single cut. I bevel the fret ends as I feel like and that's nowhere near as much as in factory made guitars. I don't work hard on each fret end, just make sure it's not sharp using the small Stewmac fret end file.

One good thing with using a longer file is that it's easy to keep all the fret ends in a straight line.

To protect the top I have a small thin steel plate I hold flush to the top and fretboard when working on the frets beyond the 12th.

With a rosewood or ebony fretboard I don't have to care much about leaving a mark on the fretboard side. Some fine steel wool and oil will even out things. With a black painted neck (on my old European parlor guitars) I most often will have to add some black paint. With a maple fretboard or a heavily lacquered one I have to be extra careful and maybe do some fine work on each fret end only using the smoother side of the file.

Thanks Roger,

I love the shim stock idea as tape is never enough above the 12th fret (I've seen several painful indications of this). Seems that old dull files actually have a valuable use as opposed just taking up space in the drawer or opening paint cans...

We use .030" mylar taped on the body snugged next to the extension to let the files pictured above "ride on" to square up the extension frets on a conventional acoustic.  Many electrics are elevated enough that your fingers can be training wheels so-to-speak.

I might add that I did buy one of these purposely made fret end beveler blocks with a file as most of us do. I never liked it and stopped using it in favor of the flat and plain file. Somehow the fret ends always became a curve even when trying to file the ends of the fretboard more with the tool. And the bevel was not right...

It might be too late for Hesh :) but I saved my soul by dulling a fresh fine file on some 3m 2500 Imperial paper.

 I put the paper on a hard, perfectly flat surface and when back and forth once. Then ran it on a 

 dead lacquered neck. Not on the fret bevel/ neck intersection but straight on the lacquer. If it still bit into the finish, one more back and forth on the paper. etc. As soon as it skates how you want it to stop!

 I've never used Hesh's file so I don't no exactly how it compares, but I'm able to cut the metal and slide on the lacquer too. And my soul is intact!

Thing two:

If you look up my version of the Collins fret buffer, you should know that I'm not entirely satisfied with it. I knew it was going to be  stretch using 3500 rpm motors and it is a bit much. someday I'll use a slower arrangement like Dave's. As it is, I tend to avoid using it on boards with plastic bindings. It's difficult to hit them light enough to avoid marking them from heat.

Darn I wich I had thought of that and retained my soul! ;)  That's the goal though, skate on finish, cut metal fret ends.  Good going! ;)

Old files found at yard sales are great for this purpose. Gluing sections flat to wood handles like Hesh showed certainly makes it easier to control. I sometimes follow that with a 1500 diamond file. Lately, I have been using those fret erasers for high grit polish on the ends. The quest never stops. Cheers,

A picture of my file and the protecting metal plate. The file was smaller than I though, 2,5 cm wide and 25 cm long.


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