What's your favorite fret leveling tool?

simple

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Seems there are many unique tools that people use to do the initial leveling of the frets when that is needed. What kind of leveling tool do you use? 
 

stubhead

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I have a flat, heavy 8" long knife sharpening stone that I wrap 220 or 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper around, and a shorter 3"(?) one that I use for spot leveling. Just because of other experience, I'm really comfortable with abrasives rather than files for that small amount of metal removal, it's more based on what I know works for me than on the "best" way. I use a regular crowning file, but I do my end finishing with sandpaper wrapped around a Gibson-sized nut blank... I have a triple-sided little end file to start ends but they can leave tooth marks. I've been meaning to get some of those DMT diamond knife stones that people are using, but I only do a full level, crown & polish every few years on one guitar or another, and they're expensive tools for that little need.

http://www.dmtsharp.com/products/duosharp.htm
 

blue313

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I used long and short carpenters levels for a long time, and they worked great.  I could buy double stick tape that was exactly the same width and adhere 200-400 grit to that.  Now I'm using a Stewmac's 16" levelling bar, 4" radiused wood blocks, and their Stikit frecut paper.   Both work good imho, but the stewmac setup gets me there much faster.
 

-CB-

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For straight radius necks, I think you'll find, Gregg, that there is really little to want over the "I-beam like" radiused bar.  Basic technique applies, that is, get the wood straight as you can, then level the metal.  You can use a short wood radius block to give some "cast off" if thats your style (its not mine).

For compound radius, you'll need to use a narrow I beam, maybe only 3/4 inch wide, and have it follow the direction of the string, not parallel to the neck.    That is, if you imagine the strings going past the nut area, and forming a sort of "vanishing point" of convergence, the leveling must take place along a radial to that vanishing point, or... as the case is... in the direction the strings.

Both of those methods will give you a wonderfully true set of frets.  You need to devise a way to support the neck, so it doesn't bend while leveling.  Yes.... as machine tool folks know, the machine bends with the weight of the fixture and tooling, and cutting forces... and DONT LEAN ON THE DAMN MACHINE!.  Same with necks.  They need lots of support.  And the I-beam should be stiff.  And the sticket paper should be FLAT.  And the pressure used should be uniform along the length of the beam, and very light..  Don't try to level quickly.  Let the paper do the job.

BTW, if you mask the fretboard, cleanup is LOTS easier.  No grunge in the pores. 

As always, do the basics first - before leveling you must ALWAYS <--- even on a new neck!  ALWAYS make sure the frets are seated, and correct that if needed.

Dan E's FRETWORK is a good book to get a broad knowledge base in a short time, then go over to Frets.com and get specifics, and or , wreck a few necks in the process.

----- This weekend, I shortened some tough stainless steel standoffs to mount the airbox on my Harley.  Had to take .200 off each one.  I got them withing +/- .003 using nothing more than a drill press, Dremel, cutoff wheels, sanding drum, and sandpaper with cutting oil..... and PATIENCE to let the tools do the work.  Took about a half hour per.    Same thing applies with fret leveling.  Be prepared to go real slow, take lots of time.  Speed will come after the.... I dunno... I haven't gotten that far or fast yet.
 
G

guitlouie

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I hesitate to call the guy I go to with guitar problems a tool, but yeah, I'm not patient enough yet for this kind of job. 
 

jackthehack

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+1 to Guitlouie; Josh at Mass St. Music is definitely not a tool, but gets used for any fret work, or anything else I don't feel like doing.
 

Patrick from Davis

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Not really a leveling tool, but I like the triangle file with the edges (corners) sanded down smooth for rounding the ends.  Pretty easy to make if you have access to a belt sander, or you can pay quite a bit for one from stew mac.  Really makes rounding down those edges on stainless steel frets a heck of a lot easier.
Patrick

 

po_0784

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Would like to use a Plek machine  :sad1:. Anyway, Id rather not touch the frets myself, or somebody might get hurts.

Hey Gregg, will warmoth use a Plek machine in the future? Those things just seems to pop out of a star trek movie. The reviews really dig the machine.
 

stubhead

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You can't Plek a guitar until you've decided on the string gauges, action height, the type of bridge etc., and put it all together. I never know what string gauge a guitar is going to need till the wood & pickups tell me what they want - it takes me a few months to settle it out, and even still I'll throw on some mediums with a wound third now and then. I've gotten fond of the GHS nickel strings, either Eric Johnson's or the normals - they're really different feeling than Ernie Balls, D'Addario EXL's and such. It would Plek up different, I fear.
 

simple

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po_0784 said:
Would like to use a Plek machine  :sad1:. Anyway, Id rather not touch the frets myself, or somebody might get hurts.

Hey Gregg, will warmoth use a Plek machine in the future? Those things just seems to pop out of a star trek movie. The reviews really dig the machine.
No plans to get a Plek yet.
 

po_0784

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lol, im stupid... didnt even think about it. You can only "plek" a finished guitar  :doh:. Bad thing is, no one got the machine around here in Quebec  :dontknow:.
 

po_0784

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Hey I just saw on the website that the machine can work on a neck alone, and "simulate" the string tension  :tard: before doing the fret leveling, thats just crazy. Would it be possible for that machine to get a virus and start cutting your guitar in little pieces  ???
 

-CB-

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Gregg said:
po_0784 said:
Would like to use a Plek machine  :sad1:. Anyway, Id rather not touch the frets myself, or somebody might get hurts.

Hey Gregg, will warmoth use a Plek machine in the future? Those things just seems to pop out of a star trek movie. The reviews really dig the machine.
No plans to get a Plek yet.

Aw, c'mon Gregg.  I KNOW you folks have the tool expertise to BUILD something even more suitable than a Plek, made for bolt on necks, set up for variable radii, different frets....  etc...   

 

NonsenseTele

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po_0784 said:
Would it be possible for that machine to get a virus and start cutting your guitar in little pieces  ???

Since Murphy is kind of Chaos, everything is possible... I believe it could make a $800 neck becomes only wood's dust  :laughing7:
 
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