I don't do this, but I've started wondering of late if I ought to charge more for dressing stainless steel frets. The last job, an old Tokai strat with a Warmoth neck with jumbo SS frets, really played havoc with my tools + additional time.

What is the consensus out there?

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HI David,

That's not much better than the nippers we use now which are reground hardened nippers.   As the Summit tools are already hardened they will not work harden any further and while we can touch up stuff like this its not a good look.  

Does this show daylight (a gap) at the deformation or is it a stress mark of the "feather edge" that exists on new ground edges?  

It would be a pleasant change to not to have to go through this evaluation when looking at tools but I guess this is what we are here for.  Have you sent this to Jescar?   They may wish to address this for you.

Thanks v. much,


Hey Russell,

I was referring to work hardening of fret wire from the strings.

The photo may make it look worse than it is. They still cut all the way through every time. The edges don't come to a feather edge and I have not ground them yet. They have a small “land” that appears to be evenly ground on both sides. I've had nippers from another supplier years ago that were ground to a feather edge and they (not surprisingly) failed instantly.

These don't appear miss-ground but they are losing the battle, (if slowly). I probably will check with Jescar to ask what's up. The reason I bought them was they were recommended for stainless.

I'm sure you know how it is, when is a good time to stop, make the call, mail them back, wait for replacements, and count on the replacement being better?

I'll certainly pass on my experience down the road. 

I think a lot of specifications (hardness for example) are in a tool design but frequently no one is checking after manufacture to make sure it's actually happening.

those nippers look really close to flush-cut! that might just be optimistic for ss wire, especially the harder varieties vance is referring to.

i went through this with two or three sets of really nice $50+ knipex mini-bolt cutters i had modded for flush-cutting, boasting blade hardness of 64 HRC and rated for 3mm piano wire.

7101200-02-1.jpg (online-normal)

i have a machine shop friend with a big ol' EDM so it wasn't a problem to burn the rather thick blades down to flush on one side without harming the adjacent metal.

strong as they were, i found that when cut as close as yours appear to be they worked fine for a few ss jobs and then shattered.

i had the next set cut a little less than flush (so there was still a little "meat" on the other side of the blade) and that set has held up fine, at the cost of the nipped fret end sticking further out from the neck and thus needing more filing.

unfortunately even after the modding, the hinging mechanism and overall shape just makes it hard to get them in tight; i've since moved on to the cheaper end-nippers i mentioned earlier and just treat 'em as a wear item.


I guess if they shatter you know at least the metal was hard:)

Some folks rant about the Starrett nippers. I guess they can be found used at a reasonable price. Somewhere I read they could be used with carbide inserts but I think that would take shattering to the next level!

Walter, did the Knipex have an adjustable stop? That would seem essential for really hard/thin edges

i'm replying here because your last post has no "reply" button for some reason. (man this forum software is a dinosaur, no quoting, no nothing.)

"Walter, did the Knipex have an adjustable stop? That would seem essential for really hard/thin edges"

nah, just that flat stop you see there. stock, the blades are really thick so i guess there was no need.

those starretts look interesting.

while we're on the subject, what's the coolest, fastest, sexiext way to do the end bevel filing on ss?

i'm using the big stewmac white nylon beveling block with the file in it

which i've modified by gluing a wooden rail along the bottom to steepen the bevel angle a bit. (with the big tall fretwire, too shallow an end bevel and you lose too much fret top real estate, leading to the E strings sliding off.)

this step is a bitch with ss, it takes a long time, especially with my semi-flush end nippers that leave a little more fret end poking out.

is there a diamond-coated file that fits these, or an otherwise faster method?

I bought a similar tool and I never got it to work. Whatever I did with it the frets ends always became shaped as a curve and not as a straight line. Seems like the file took away more material in the middle of the fretboard no matter what... Also the standard angle on these is not right.

I reverted to using a simple flat metal file with no handle. The fret ends are straight now and I can make the angle steeper as they should. I use a thin metal sheet to protect the top when filing the frets on the fretboard end and take care with the file when working not to slip and scratch the top of the frets!

I'm not sure  the coolesst or fastest  but the coarsness of the file in the holder I think is the key to sexieness.

In that woman in leather with a bullwip way.

 A little frightening in the damage it can do, but with oh so alluring speed. I chuck up a nasty double cut file to get close first.

Unless you can come up with a way to run a router down that line! ( gotta dream a little).

"Some folks rant about the Starrett nippers. I guess they can be found used at a reasonable price. Somewhere I read they could be used with carbide inserts but I think that would take shattering to the next level!"


so after seeing this i actually went out and wrangled myself some of these, both the 7" and the 5 1/2", and i have to report that i see no way they could be useful at all for this job.

an amazingly well-crafted tool, they go for like $300 new (i found them on the 'bay for an order of magnitude cheaper) but they're so high leverage that the jaws travel over a very short distance; you can't adjust the jaws to both open wide enough to fit fretwire into and close all the way down to cut all the way through it.

i tried using the smaller ones for string cutters and they won't even do that, the removable bolt-on jaw blades don't quite line up perfectly enough for that.

i guess they're really made for crunching tile and things like that, where you need massive force over very little distance and you're not trying to make cuts requiring the jaw blades to meet perfectly.

Sorry you had to take one for the team walter:( 

I surfed Ebay a few times looking for them too but never pulled the trigger.

I thought they were originally made for cutting piano wire.

I guess just chalk it up to internet BS. Crazy how much of it is out there.


it's fine, i managed to buy them both cheap enough that i was able to sell them back on eBay at a slight profit.

These are the ones I use. They came from an old piano workshop. The maker is Footprint and it has Made In England stamped on every individual part. :D Still going strong!


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