Re-fretting a neck

Re-fretting a neck…

The first time the fretboard had been put under stress from the truss rod it had cracked straight through in three places.

I had a choice to make, I had nothing into the neck, it is a good hard maple neck, straight, so I decided a look see to find out why the fretboard had failed was in order, and then a new fretboard if it was fixable.

The old fretboard was not interested in coming off. It did come off in pieces without too much damage to the neck, a few chisel gouges, nothing serious. The old stubborn board fought me for every inch.

The old board chiseled off and the neck flattened on a belt sander.

I flattened the surface on my bench sander, installed the new truss rod and looked things over. The problem was immediately evident. First, the route was horrible on the neck. It actually changed widths in two places, as though it was run twice. Second, it was at the wrong depth in places. The first route at the correct depth, the second over an 1/8 inch higher, leaving too little depth for the truss rod. A few passes with my own router took it all down and the truss rod fit perfectly.

I measured up a new fretboard, I also capped the end of the neck to hold it correctly, as I installed a hex-key operated rod and the old one was a spoke wheel type, I suspect, because of the notches cut into both the fretboard and the neck bottom. I also capped the slot at the end. I capped the end so that the neck is dressed and so that the rod is supported correctly. I added a block to use as a stop at the nut end of the slot that had been cut too long, but also to make sure the rod stays where it is supposed to stay. It is simply sloppy work to leave it long as it was.

The old fretboard had a 21 fret layout, I decided to move this one to a 24 fret layout, so I cut the new blank accordingly. It only means that those extra frets will be on the section of fretboard not supported by the neck itself, but since this will be a glue-in neck, that section will glue to the body, so they will be supported on the body.

You can see the small area that overhangs the end of the neck. This is common in necks that are glue-ins and is even popular with bolt in necks lately. The new fretboard cut and glued up. This is a hard maple fretboard.

I took my rasps to the neck repairs to make everything flat before I clamped up the new Maple fret board.

From there I began the radius in it using a block I built some time ago to help do that. The radius is built into the block, so it makes things quicker. Still, with hard Maple it took a while to begin that radius.

Once I had the radius begun and close enough to finished, I laid out the frets on a 25.5 scale X 24 and cut them into the board with one of my Japanese fret saws. The kerf is especially designed to leave just enough for the frets to bite and hold in the slot.

After the slots were cut I adjusted the truss rod to flatten the board completely, and then finished the radius to 400 grit and then popped the frets in the same as I did on the SG Scrapwood build, using the handle of my 3/4 inch chisel/rasp combo. It gives me good control. It is heavy enough that I can tap hard and drive a problem area flat.

This morning I filed the edges of the frets to a 45 degree angle, rounded the ends over and then went from 100 to 400 grit paper to smooth it all out. It will be finished later, once it is mounted on the project and polished out…

Taking the sharp edges off the cut and filed ends. You can also see that I have dressed the frets. You can tell that from the flattening on the tops. Dressed means that I have run 100 to 150 grit over them with the radius block to take care of any high areas and make it all uniform.

Fretted and now ready to use. The markers are red glass beads with wood filled centers. Yes, you can sand glass beads flat. Make your hole deep enough to meet the crown of the bead radius and then sand with the radius block to take the glass down. I used 50 grit on my radius block and it took the glass down in no time. I then was able to complete it using 100 to 400 grit paper. It will polish back up at the end when the neck is installed once more. This neck will be going on the second SG build body…

The truss rod looks like it was meant to be here, and works very well. It is a dual action two way rod. You can get these pretty cheap. I ordered a few of these from Amazon, about $8.00 each and I have had no problems with them.


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