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Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread
http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=47508
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Author:  Andy Birko [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:58 am ]
Post subject:  Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

In response to the interest shown in the other thread, Birkonium is teaming up with Ann Arbor guitars to produce an Ultimate Fretting Caul Set. This will be a 24 piece brass fretting caul set designed to fit the Stew-Mac fretting press systems. The sizes offered have been determined by Dave Collins through over a decade of experience using the first generation of these cauls. Dave will be chiming in to describe his selection process once he frees up this afternoon.

I've started doing the research on the production costs etc. and here's what I've figured out so far.

* Shooting for under $200 price tag for this initial group buy
* The more people sign up, the better the pricing will be
* Will certainly be north of $200 if I decide to make these afterward
* Engraved or stamped size on each caul
* CNC machined of course!

What I need from you guys now is a a commitment to who wants a set of these. The goal is to have these manufactured by the next Ann Arbor Guitars fretting class on April 30's so please respond to this thread by April 13th so we have enough time to get these manufactured by then.

So, if you'd like to purchase a set, please respond to this thread.
Once you've responded to this thread, I'll PM you for e-mail and shipping info and send a $50 paypal invoice for a deposit.
Once we know the final price and the cauls are manufactured, I'll send a paypal invoice for the balance + shipping charges.

Author:  krl [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'd like a set Andy. Thanks for taking this on.

Author:  bcombs510 [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I would like a set.

Brad Combs

Author:  Dan Miller [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Count me in.

Dan

Author:  Linus [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Count me in.
Linus

Author:  Hesh [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Andy I just PMed everyone in the original thread who wanted to be informed if you decided to make these very cool caul sets available again. So expect some traffic in this thread!

Thanks again for doing this Andy - much appreciated!

The new Ultimate set has been improved and as Andy said Dave will be along at some point to talk about his selection of what sizes are most useful. Dave and I have been using the original sets that have not been available for nearly a decade now for about 10 years. Along the way we learned what sizes are most useful and what sizes rarely if ever get used and what graduations would be most helpful too.

The new Ultimate set reflects this research and a decade of real-world, working pro use and should serve us all much better.

For working pros we use ours near daily and have done hundreds of refrets with our sets. Great tools are important!

For builders these sets are the ticket to compound radius boards and fret planes. The sets include every size that one would need to do very cool compound radius fret jobs. The benefit of compound radius beyond folks are asking for them these days after trying them is that slightly lower action is possible with a compound radius over a static radius.

Not the entire world likes low action but in my world about 90% of it does...:)

I'm just pleased as punch that these are going to be available again too - Many, many thanks Andy!

Author:  dofthesea [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I would like a set. And a big thumbs up to Ann Arbor Guitars And Andy Birko you guys rock.

Author:  Clinchriver [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'm in

Author:  Fred Tellier [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Count me in for a set Andy.

Fred

Author:  Dave Fifield [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Thanks for the alert Hesh [:Y:]

I'm in....thanks for taking this on Andy!

Dave F.

Author:  david farmer [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'm in.
Thanks to Andy and the Ann Arbor boys. Very generous.

Can never have too many!

Attachment:
IMG_4266 - Copy.JPG

Author:  John Cavanaugh [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

It was good to meet you at the fretting workshop in Ann Arbor in November, Andy. I'll sign up for a set. Thanks.

Author:  Hesh [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

David my friend you take the best pictures and I have been noticing this for a while now. Your pictures tell a story and of course all the technical aspects are spot on as well. Very cool! [:Y:]

In this one excellent photo there are likely 15 topics for discussion threads illustrated! Good going!

david farmer wrote:
I'm in.
Thanks to Andy and the Ann Arbor boys. Very generous.

Can never have too many!

Attachment:
IMG_4266 - Copy.JPG

Author:  SteveSmith [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Andy, I'm in.

Author:  Michaeldc [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'll take a set..

Thanks

Author:  David Collins [ Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Alright, long day, but finally found the chance to sit and write for a minute. Here's a breakdown of my goals for what I would consider an ideal caul set.

The traditional approach is of course to say if you are fretting a 12" radius board, use a 12" radius caul. My experience however, places this practice to be one of blind faith in numbers and specs, with shortcomings easily overlooked for convenience. By and large, for the majority of fret work seen in real life, these specs rarely end up so perfect. From the thickness of the wire, to the glueing, leveling, and sanding of the board, it is quite rare for a 12" radius to be a true 12.0" radius, even when it comes time to install frets on new construction.

For anyone who does refrets or uses compound radius boards, the schism between spec and reality become even more obvious.

So my approach is a preference to abandon the false comfort of tidy round spec numbers, and instead shift toward a series of narrow increments. This means the radii these will be cut and marked as will not be a nice neat series of 10, 12, 14, 16, etc. Instead I would prefer a series of consistent increments spanning whatever range may be typically encountered.

I write this long preface because at first glance the odd numbers they will be spaced to could no doubt be received as discomforting when they do not line up with the precise (but rarely real) numbers we like to list as specs. In practice however, I find the neat round numbers to only be of false comfort, and when pressed to the board don't necessarily provide the best palette of choices to work with.

Instead I've come up with a series ranging from around 6" to 24", with the focus on incremental change in the sagitta, or the height at the center of the radius. The geometry gets a bit complicated, but the current layout is arranged to set increments ranging from approximately .002" in the shallower range (slightly less when viewed from perspective toward the nut, slightly more as it widens toward the extension), up toward .0025"-.003" as you approach the shallowest radius of 6".

The end result will be that if you find yourself pressing against any radius not perfectly matching the caul (which in reality pretty much amounts to every guitar or caul set you'll ever work with), you will use the next smaller radius. The difference in the center is then automatically compensated for by the slight bit of slop that exists in just about every pressing system. At the widest gaps between radii, the caul need tilt no more than 1.5° max to press the center fully down that last ~.002" once the ends are seated.

Those who have used the StewMac presses certainly witness this on a regular basis. When you are 10" caul to press in to an 11" region on a compound board, the head tilts slightly to better conform, and you can press quite neatly with this method.

The issue I've had with our current arrays of cauls is that the increments don't provide the smoothest transition between the neat tidy whole numbers they come in. After years of using the StewMac and Watkins sets, as well as a few customized cauls, I find there to be a number of gaps which are too large, and push the "auto-regulating" limits of sight tilt in the caul holder or clamp. I actually busted the tip on one of our older Jaws clamps from trying to push the tilt too far on an old D'Angelico that had a 6-7ish radius.

So, after years of using existing sets of cauls, and a number of custom ones, this is going to be the arrangement I've always wanted, set not to a series of comfortingly round numbers, but rather laid out in a more comprehensive and practical spread from one end to the next, without all the gaps which have frustrated me in the past.

Can't wait to finally have a full set!

Author:  Joel Barbeau [ Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Sign me up for one set, Andy.

Author:  Andy Birko [ Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Ok, I think I've sent an e-mail to everyone who's on the list so far. If you haven't received an e-mail from me (not PM) please send me a PM here on the forum.

I'll probably wait a week or so and then send everyone who's signed up the deposit invoice so that I do them all at once and nothing slips through the cracks.

Best,

Author:  david farmer [ Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I was going to just suggest some smaller nominal increments for the tighter radiuses.
True to form David, you've taken it to a whole new level! Thanks.
Now I'll just tighten my grip on you and Andy's Capes!

Author:  Dmaxwell [ Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'd like a set Andy. Thanks to all for putting this together...

Author:  David Collins [ Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I was going through the numbers again tonight, and realized an important factor I had left out earlier. Of course it will vary with your region and prices, but at our shop, if this set ends up in the $200 range, it will take about 40% of one refret to cover the cost.

Factor in the savings in opportunity costs from the next time I won't have to mess with bending and customizing other cauls to try and fill in the gaps, and it would probably end up a wash for us. I wish I had this set for one particular refret I had to do a few weeks back - would have saved an hour or so in wasted time on that job alone.

Author:  Dave Baley [ Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'll take a set thanks for making this possible.
My only concern is the issues raised in the original thread about the poor quality of the current Jaws2. Not sure yet what I will do about that.
Dave

Author:  joshnothing [ Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I'll take a set as well. I assume shipping to international locations won't be problem?

Author:  joshnothing [ Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

Dave Baley wrote:
I'll take a set thanks for making this possible.
My only concern is the issues raised in the original thread about the poor quality of the current Jaws2. Not sure yet what I will do about that.
Dave


Good point. Can anyone advise just how good/bad/ugly this current iteration of the Jaws II clamp is? Are we talking not fit-for-purpose at all/modification definitely required, or is it just a little rickety?

Purely from looking at pictures, it looks like a quality clamp could be drilled and tapped to take the two 'stabilizing' thumbscrews, but unsure about how difficult it would be to get the pressing caul itself off the Stewmac clamp and onto a new clamp. Also, unsure if the provided wooden neck caul blocks will fit on other common F-clamp heads....

Perhaps someone who physically owns the current Jaws II be willing to take a close look at it and provide some details on whether these kinds of modifications look possible?

Author:  klooker [ Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ultimate Fretting Caul Set thread

I was one of the folks complaining about the Jaws II.

I think my main problems have been with the cauls, trying to fully set a fret with an ill-fitting caul.

Comparing the clamps is "interesting", the thread pitch on the SM clamp is finer so it should develop more force but it seem sticky - strictly subjective observation.

Anyhow, I'd like the get a set of cauls too.

Kevin Looker

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