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Thread: Fret Jaws, anyone built this?

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Fret Jaws, anyone built this?

    Well, I had to ask. Seems having a fret press is cool but I should have put more into building fretting jaws.

    Reason why, you can press, let this hold the fret while wicking up ca glue and then when dry, move to the next fret. Makes fretting too easy.

    I have been trying to find the type of vice grips that they use to build the Stewmac fretting jaws. Maybe I can use a welding clamp jaws instead. I have seen a few versions of this and it does not look that complicated to build but really easy and simple too.

    Cheers

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    Supporting Member epis's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I did build one for same reason as yours.It works great for refretting.
    I added small piece of L shaped metal to it, to make it attachable to my workbench.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epis View Post
    Hi,
    I did build one for same reason as yours.It works great for refretting.
    I added small piece of L shaped metal to it, to make it attachable to my workbench.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Hey Epis,

    That fret jaws looks really good. Did you make your own radius inserts for the part that pushes on top the fretwire?

    I'm going to try to build my own fret jaws but still looking at what type welding clamp I need to use. Also need to figure out if I'll use the caul from Stewmac on the top part. I seen a home made fret jaws on EBay that was nothing more that a welding clamp with the caul from Stew Mac attached to it. It looked pretty good but missing the bottom neck cradle I would think would help stabilize the fret insert better.

    $220.00 is a lot for the original jaws but I’m sure in a shop setting darn well worth it.

    Merry Christmas

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Well after looking at Epis fret jaws I went into my garage and made this, my flub was I got the two pieces glued on the wrong locations. I didn't realize till looking at Epis fret jaws that I should have had the brass fret caul on the bottom of the jaws.

    Maybe this will still work though. If not I can use this as a fret clamp in needed. The welding clamp was maybe three bucks at Harbor frieght tools.
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    Supporting Member epis's Avatar
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    Hi Slobrain,
    here is what I used as base for my project : Buy Face Clamp 11 Inch With 3.5 Inch Reach - B250711 from Busy Bee Tools
    About inserts, yes I made it from 1/8" thick aluminum with help of my Dremel.
    I use it just occasionally, so for my needs is more than good.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    I have been trying to find the type of vice grips that they use to build the Stewmac fretting jaws.
    They're made by Facom they are Locking Pliers model 506.

    http://www.pro.facom.fr/CatalogueGen...AG-CAT-05.aspx

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    Last edited by Mr. President; 01-08-2012 at 08:33 AM.

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    By the way, the only place I have found them in the US us at Long Nose Hinged Tip Large Capacity Lock-grip Plier (506) . I have no connection to them. Just trying to help because I spent alot of time tracking this down too.
    Goodluck!

    Also, emachineshop.com looks like a pretty neat idea if you need some parts machined.

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    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    G8972 Locking G-Clamp - 11"

    you can get some nice Gotoh tuners (and much more) there too!
    Grizzly.com® -- Product Categories

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. President View Post
    By the way, the only place I have found them in the US us at Long Nose Hinged Tip Large Capacity Lock-grip Plier (506) . I have no connection to them. Just trying to help because I spent alot of time tracking this down too.
    Goodluck!

    Also, emachineshop.com looks like a pretty neat idea if you need some parts machined.
    Thanks for all the good info fellas. Looks like the jaws I built need work as I tried to use them but they were too shaky. Those long nosed large capacity lock grip pliers above look sort of like the locking pliers that I seen at Harbor freight tools that you use on a car oil filter. Just not expanding like the ones mentioned above. After seeing the price at $82.00 in the above quote no wonder Stewmac sells them for the price of $220.00 after they mod them.

    Mr. Pres, did you build some like the Stew mac jaws? If so please post a picture.

    I have to say, when you build your own tools there is alot of satisfaction to building them. Sort the same feel when you build a good tube amp.

    I never realized that doing refrets is a very long and tedious job, not to mention learning the extra effort to getting a fretboard that feels like a million bucks. I just did my 4th refret on a maple neck and I did a bit of compound radiusing the fretboard and it came out pretty good. I think that compound radiusing the fretboard is the way to go for a good feeling guitar neck that feels right for me.

    Cheers...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    ...After seeing the price at $82.00 in the above quote no wonder Stewmac sells them for the price of $220.00 after they mod them.

    Mr. Pres, did you build some like the Stew mac jaws?
    Nope I haven't yet. After looking at the cost of maching the parts I would need, there wasn't enough savings. I'm still thinking about doing it though if for nothing else than the satisfaction of making it. If I had access to a small milling machine or if I knew someone who worked in a machine shop it would be a no brainer but for now I'll most likely be buying from Stewmac.

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    Last edited by Mr. President; 01-12-2012 at 01:39 AM.

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    Supporting Member epis's Avatar
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    Here is site where I got an idea Luthier than thou » Blog Archive » DIY Fretpress (Part deux…) . Good Luck

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Hey Epis,

    I had actually ran across that site before. His fret jaws look good. Not so sure though about if his caul can swivel too much to one side the way it looks. I like how yours came out using the wood block with the home made insert. I just did my 5th refret on a Kramer neck that had a 14 inch radius but re-radiused the fretboard to a 16 inch. This was an old 1986 Kramer Focus 2000 neck. I put in the Dunlop 6000 frets and now that guitar plays real well. I'm about to do a 1987 Kramer F1000 neck on a Japan Baretta copy that has a really great playing 3 piece neck but low jumbo frets so I'm going to install Dunlop 6000 frets in that neck too. its a slim profile with a D back shape and 16 inch fretboard radius, real fast feel to it.

    The most fun is taking the Squier affinity or standard strat necks and making really good playing necks with these, I'm re-radiusing the fretboards and using Dunlop 6100's on these necks and they play more like the Fender USA necks after I'm finished with them. The funny thing about Squier affinity necks are they have a slim profile with 1-5/8 nut size making them easy to play. I need to work more now on rounding the necks fretboard to get that broken in feel on them.

    One of my goals is to find the fretwire that Charvel uses on they import necks from the 80's and 90's. Bigger fretwire than the Dunlop 6000. Not sure where to find that

    Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    One of my goals is to find the fretwire..... Bigger fretwire than the Dunlop 6000. Not sure where to find that

    Cheers.
    Sorry for the assist on the thread hijack but... Jescar is the best wire I've found. A lot of the top luthiers prefer Jescar wire over Stewmac and certainly over Dunlop. The consistency and quality are far beyond the Dunlop wire. Check it out.
    JESCAR: New Dimensions in Fret Wire: Choices

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    I have been trying to find the type of vice grips that they use to build the Stewmac fretting jaws.
    I think the actual tool used by StewMac is the Stanley High Capacity Mole Wrench.

    They aren't sold here in the States AFAIK and the link takes you to the Arab Emirates. Actually, I haven't been able to find them for sale anywhere in the world. I found the Facom locking pliers on amazon.fr and ebay.fr searching "pince-étau grande capacité" (I was wondering when my college French would get some use). I sent an email to stanleyworks.ae and will post their answer if helpful.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Robbie,

    I was trying to build a set of the fret jaws but after trying one pair it seems a bit more work than I thought. I did build a fret press that works well with bolt on necks but the fret jaws seem better to use. It would be nice if they didn't cost so much.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    Thanks for the info Robbie,

    I was trying to build a set of the fret jaws but after trying one pair it seems a bit more work than I thought. I did build a fret press that works well with bolt on necks but the fret jaws seem better to use. It would be nice if they didn't cost so much.

    Cheers
    Which arbor press did you use? I'm looking at the Grizzly 1/2-ton. I haven't seen one up close and I'm wondering how the caul is attached to the bottom of the plunger. Did you make the caul too? Do you have any photos?

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    The one below at Harbor Freight, it was on sale for $27.99 at the time.

    1/2 Ton Arbor Press

    I cannot remember the size drill bit I used to drill the hole for the caul, i think it was 3/8 maybe, then I drilled a hole on the side for the small allen screw to hold in the fret caul, i think it was a 6/32 if I remember right. It works great. Look at the URL below to see it.

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t27645/

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieC View Post
    Which arbor press did you use? I'm looking at the Grizzly 1/2-ton. I haven't seen one up close and I'm wondering how the caul is attached to the bottom of the plunger. Did you make the caul too? Do you have any photos?

    I used the Grizzly 1/2-ton (about $50) but had to spend $30 for a machine shop to drill the 3/8" hole plus set screw for the Stew Mac caul. In the end, I should have just ordered the Stew Mac arbor press as I didn't save any money and still lack the table, etc.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieC View Post
    I used the Grizzly 1/2-ton (about $50) but had to spend $30 for a machine shop to drill the 3/8" hole plus set screw for the Stew Mac caul. In the end, I should have just ordered the Stew Mac arbor press as I didn't save any money and still lack the table, etc.
    Hey Robbie,

    I haven't used mine in a while but about to refret an old 1990 Charvel neck soon and will use it again. If I had the money to spare I probably would have gotten the fret jaws to do this.

    Heck, $80.00 is still a ok price for a good press. All you need know is the caul with the inserts and your ready to refret...

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