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Tools/tips for cutting SS fret tangs?

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  • Tools/tips for cutting SS fret tangs?

    Hi all,

    First post.. I searched for it and there's an existing topic (very old), but it doesn't have my question in it.

    I have some experience in fret leveling, crowning, and polishing, and I now want to learn refretting. I have a crap guitar that I can sacrifice for this so there's no concern of causing damage. I really like stainless steel frets and I'd like those on all of my guitars, so I want to start with SS frets instead of NS, and a fret cutter/puller tool. I already have tools for leveling, dressing, polishing etc.

    Now the question is how to cut the tangs of frets. I can see that there are tools specifically for ths purpose, but (1) they're expensive (80 - 100 USD) for a specialized tool that doesn't do anything else (2) in descriptions they all say it's not recommended to work on SS frets with them.

    So my question is how to cut tangs of SS frets, what tools to use etc. any suggestions would be really helpful.


  • #2
    I have a pair of long-handled end cutters that I reground. There was originally a slight bevel on the cutting face and I carefully ground the face away both to remove the bevel and re-profile the head to make it more suitable for fret work. They took a lot of grinding. They cut stainless frets easily and make a really tidy job and I prefer them for general fret work over my Stewmac tools. In their original form they were used to cut hardened wire rope. They were sold by the Lidl supermarket chain in the UK in a 3-for-5 offer. So maybe about $2.20 or so. I think any wire rope end cutters should be up to the job as many will cut SS rope.


    • #3
      Thanks Mick. I don't think I'll be able to make my own tools, I'm not that experienced and I also don't have the tools and skills for that (at least for now). So if anyone knows an existing tool that I can just order that'd be helpful.


      • #4
        Nipex or similiar spelling sells decent cutting tools. Knipx, Knipex


        • #5
          Cutting frets is fairly straightforward with any decent pair of end cutters if you're fretting an unbound fingerboard. If you need to undercut the tangs then the same tool can be used if there's no bevel on the outside of the cutting face, otherwise a ridge of the root of the tang will be left. For the occasional refret with SS you can use either a jewellers piercing saw with HSS blade to cut the tang down vertically and then nip off the tang flush, or use a Dremel cutting wheel to slice down vertically. I always find that undercut frets need a little work with a file to get them perfectly level on the underside whatever tools I use. Even with Nickel frets and Stewmac tools the cut isn't perfect.


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