Finally got back to work on the Trick Bros refret. It took some doing to get in on the truss rod to get the neck straight and fretboard level. I ended up cracking the handle off my nut driver. I used my vice grip to turn it.
Eventually I got it straightened out. I needed to sand in a little fall away at the neck joint and take off a little more wood up by the first and second fret.
Once the neck was straight and the fret board level, I had to decide how to fret it. Fret slots were too wide for the new fret wire. I’m using big fat frets, but the tang measured .024 and the slots were more like .026.
I tried crimping the tang to get it to stick better, but I had already cut the frets to size and the crimping flattened out the radius (which is a tight 7.5” on this guitar). I’m using gold wire to match the hardware, and I found it really hard to rebend the sized frets.
So I decided to glue the frets in. My first move was to use epoxy. I had a 2-minute epoxy. I tried it on the first two frets but didn’t like it. Mostly it was drying too fast. Too hard to work with.
Next I tried waxing the fretboard and running a bead of medium viscosity super glue in the slot. I used my stew mac bessie clamp fret press to seat the frets.
I was happier with this approach. The super glue dried fast enough after I hit it with some accelerator to keep me moving along, but not so fast that I rushed and made mistakes.
Cool thing about the Bessie clamp press is that you can just leave it clamped after getting it seated and simply wait 2 minutes while the glue sets.
The wax made cleaning squeeze out easy. Only downside was that the wax really got into the rosewood grain on the fretboard. Some naptha, an old toothbrush, and some elbow grease will take care of that.
2-3 of the frets seem high. Worst culprit was one of the epoxy frets. May pull them and may just see if I can level it out. That is for another day…
Finally got time to fit the new bridge onto the Kay archtop. The process is pretty simple, if a bit tedious. Basically I masked off the area where the bridge goes, laid some adhesive sandpaper on the mask and pretty much just rubbed the bridge on the sandpaper with very short strokes.
I started with 80 grit because I had a lot of material to hog off a lot of material quickly. I also used a chisel to hollow out the bottom of the bridge a bit so that I was mostly taking off from the edges.
As I got closer to fit I switched to 220, then 320. I was making pencil marks on the bottom so I could see when I was done. Basically when all the pencil marks are gone, the bridge is fit!
I also levelled the new frets, recrowned them, and did some polishing. Not quite happy with the condition yet, but I’ll keep at it.
Next up, making the new nut…
I ordered a replacement bridge with a bone saddle in hopes of getting a bit brighter sound.
The new bridge is higher, so I’ll need to do some work to get it right.
I have to sand the bottom to get it to fit the arch on this guitar. Sanding it should bring it down by 1/16th. I can take 1/16th off of the actual bone too, and I should be right about where I need to be.
I was worried about the geometry of the guitar after the neck went back on. In order to achieve the appropriate neck angle I actually needed to flatten a hump in the side caused by a slight crack in the neck block (as opposed to taking material off of the heel). So I was really just crossing my fingers that the angle was right.
Luckily, archtops are forgiving because of the floating bridge. But as it turns out, the neck angle shoots right where it should on the original bridge.
Forgot to mention, I dressed all of the fret ends before putting the neck back on. Hard to get a good picture with my phone, but I’ll give myself a C on the job. Not great, but an improvement from last time.
Next up, a little bit of fret leveling and fitting the new bridge. Then she is ready for new strings.
Anyone got any suggestions for names for this guitar?I guess “Kay” would be the obvious choice given the brand.
Neck clamps come off tomorrow evening. Wish me luck!
Well, for better or for worse, I glued up and clamped the neck back on. Since I altered the neck angle slightly, I had to put a shim under the tongue as well.
I hope this works out. I don’t feel great about it, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Have to remind myself that I got this guitar to butcher, so nothing is really lost if I fuck it up. But now that I’ve put so much time in it, I really want it to sound good.
I was determined to get the neck joint to fit today. These are the tools: articulating paper (I splurged and got some on eBay because carbon paper was hard to manage) and a chisel. The blue marks on the dovetail showed me where I had to file. I ended up having to put another half shim in to get a real good fit. Eventually I got there.
I’ve got the first 7 frets in. I’m loving the fit I get with the fret press. Much more snug then my shaky hammer technique.
I masked off the fretboard first to protect it as I put the epoxy in the slots with a tiny plastic toothpick. Once it was in, I cleaned up the excess epoxy with a little mineral spirits.
I used the jaws press to fit each fret. They went in perfectly once I got the hang of handling the device.
It is slow going because I am clamping the frets in using a radius sanding block as a caul while the epoxy cures. I used the slow cure epoxy because I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be with it.
I could probably switch to a five minute epoxy if I’m going to keep doing a few frets at a time. I wish I had a longer radius block so I could clamp all the frets at once, but getting one for each of the common radii would cost a few hundred dollars.
I’ll stick with this approach for now since I’m happy with the results. It’s a good exercise in patience. I’ve learned that guitar work is not good for impatient people.
I wasn’t happy with the fit I was getting by hammering in the frets, so I decided I wanted to try a fret press. I got this “jaws” press from Stewart MacDonald.
I chose this one because it was cheaper then the arbor press version and more versatile then the vise grip version. I can also take out the press bit and use it with a drill press if I want.
Since I’ve pulled frets on this neck twice since I got it, the fret slots are a little wide now. I had two options: I could get a tool to crimp and expand the fret tang, or I could glue the frets in. I chose a slow curing epoxy because I didn’t want to drop more $$ on another specialty tool (actually I ALWAYS want another tool, but I decided it wasn’t prudent). I figured epoxy would do a better job then super glue to fill the slop in the slots.