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 Post subject: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:03 pm 
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Cocobolo
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So my frets were leveled. ... on a strait fingerboard..
Then i began crowning the flat spots.
Well, now my frets aren’t level because I took some height off. How does one avoid such a thing when crowning ?


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:12 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Use a felt pen to mark the fret tops, with masking tape to preotect the board. Then crown, but leave a small strip of marker at the top so as not to change the height...


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:17 pm 
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Cocobolo
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I’m using an older stewmac fret file ... not the newer one. Perhaps they made some changes.
And yea I’ve been taking ALL the flat area off


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:26 pm 
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+1 for the felt tip sharpie and protective masking tape. I prefer a red sharpie. Easy to see so you don’t overshoot


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:50 pm 
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Quote:
And yea I’ve been taking ALL the flat area off


Then you are using the wrong file....

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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:53 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Chris Pile wrote:
Quote:
And yea I’ve been taking ALL the flat area off


Then you are using the wrong file....

Very possibly. It’s amazing how much I don’t know haha:)
I think I’ve the right file, but just been working it too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 4:04 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I used to use a felt pen but now I find the scratch marks are good enough to see it. It's a good tip to use a pen though and yeah basically that's what you want to do, leave a very thin stripe down the center and round it off with sand paper.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 5:16 pm 
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jfmckenna wrote:
I used to use a felt pen but now I find the scratch marks are good enough to see it. It's a good tip to use a pen though and yeah basically that's what you want to do, leave a very thin stripe down the center and round it off with sand paper.

I tried a felt pen once and had a harder time seeing it than I do with just the marks :) But it's always hard to see. You'll need a movable lamp so you can get the angle just right for maximum visibility.

Work the two sides of the fret individually, until there's a narrow strip of flat in the center:
Attachment:
FretCrowning.jpg

Then switch to fine sandpaper to sand out the crowning file scratches (I use small squares held in my fingers). When I get to 600 grit on the polishing, I run along the length of the board, bumping over each fret, with the flesh of my thumb acting as a soft backing for the sandpaper. That rounds over the peaks, while removing a minuscule amount of height.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 6:15 pm 
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Hesh’s tip was a red marks-a-lot marker. I use one and it’s pretty easy to see. Bonus is I have a 10 year old so they are all over the house. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 7:11 pm 
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Cocobolo
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DennisK wrote:
jfmckenna wrote:
I used to use a felt pen but now I find the scratch marks are good enough to see it. It's a good tip to use a pen though and yeah basically that's what you want to do, leave a very thin stripe down the center and round it off with sand paper.

I tried a felt pen once and had a harder time seeing it than I do with just the marks :) But it's always hard to see. You'll need a movable lamp so you can get the angle just right for maximum visibility.

Work the two sides of the fret individually, until there's a narrow strip of flat in the center:
Attachment:
FretCrowning.jpg

Then switch to fine sandpaper to sand out the crowning file scratches (I use small squares held in my fingers). When I get to 600 grit on the polishing, I run along the length of the board, bumping over each fret, with the flesh of my thumb acting as a soft backing for the sandpaper. That rounds over the peaks, while removing a minuscule amount of height.


So to be clear. Am I shooting for a spot in the middle like this picture? Or a flat spot all the way across? Here it appears the flat spot tapers on the ends... is this because of the radius?


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 7:38 pm 
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SnowManSnow wrote:
So to be clear. Am I shooting for a spot in the middle like this picture? Or a flat spot all the way across? Here it appears the flat spot tapers on the ends... is this because of the radius?

Flat spot should be the same width all the way across. It's just hard to see because of the lighting. Toward the top of the image is where you can see it best.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 7:50 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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For fret dressing I still prefer the hardware store variety triangular file with the corners made "safe" (ground off) I think it is easier to round the sides with out hitting the top center. Like others, I use fine sandpaper to polish off the scratch marks made from leveling and dressing the frets.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 9:10 pm 
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Cocobolo
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I use the felt pen when doing the levelling, but not for the crowning. I tried it on a maple fret board I had and the sharpie wicked under the finish in places.

I find after levelling and getting rid of the milling marks from my levelling file, when I use the crowning file the contrast between the part the crowning file touches on the edge of the frets and the center of the levelled fret is quite stark and its easy to see where you're at. I try and leave a thin and even line the length of the fret. Sometimes I have to tweak the angle my light is coming at, but I find it works pretty good.

This file is pricey, but crowning is really simple with it...
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... _File.html


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 6:15 am 
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A few thoughts:

1. Get a scissor arm lamp and work out a way to temporarily mount it on your bench. I made a little wooden holder that goes in a dog hole. Works great. You need light at just the right spot, and the right spot changes.

2. Use an optivisor so you can really, really see what’s going on.

3. Putting marker on the tops can be helpful, but if you can maintain your focus on the flat without it, that’s fine, too. Whatever helps you see the flat is what you need.

4. If we assume that you successfully filed or sanded a good flat on the tops of all the frets (meaning those flat tops are all on the same plane along the run of each string, but the curve across the fretboard has been maintained), then the goal is to curve the SIDES of each fret, not the tops, so that the flat on top of each fret is very narrow and uniform in width across each fret. The flats are likely going to vary in width across each fret. So, you have to tailor your fret work to get that uniform, narrow flat spot on the top of each fret. If you eliminate the flat spot altogether anywhere on any fret, you just wasted all effort up to this point, including the flattening, so don’t let that happen. This is not unlike filing a nut slot; going too far is bad, so you need to sneak up on perfection and not risk overshooting the mark.

5. Once you get that nice, narrow, uniform width sliver of flat on top of each fret, you move to smoothing and polishing with grits that will not remove any appreciable amount of material. Because, again, wiping out the flat anywhere is a costly mistake.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:20 am 
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Cocobolo
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I appreciate the advise! I have a z file being shipped to help with this process, then I’ll hone the skills:)


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:54 pm 
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Quote:
I appreciate the advise! I have a z file being shipped to help with this process, then I’ll hone the skills:)


I've thought about adding a couple of those to my arsenal.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The z file is great. Worth getting. I got the standard model and like it.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:46 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The Z-File gets great reviews. I've yet to try one but I did buy a very expensive diamond fret file that also got good reviews and after about two uses went immediately back to my trusty 3 corner file.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:39 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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www.amazon.com/Nicholson-Triangular-Sin ... ular+files

It's hard to beat the price of the triangular file and after making the corners safe and with a little bit of practice it does a good job. If I did thousands of frets a year and there was something markedly better I might be tempted to try it, but for the couple hundred I may do the triangular file works fine


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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 2:45 pm 
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Based on my experience fret files are like any other file, there is no one-size-fits-all, this is especially true when leveling old frets. I have the Z-File and usually use it last, I like it for cleaning up the marks from the other files and getting the line on the top of the fret even and narrow. I can do the same job with my grooved diamond fret files and my old triangular file but I find myself reaching for the file that helps me get done faster and that usually means the grooved diamond fret files followed by the Z-file. There is no single correct method, it really comes down to each person using what they're comfortable with to get the job done right. Magnification is your friend, I use an Optivisor and a bright articulating LED light. And yes, I use a red Sharpie to mark the top of the frets.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 8:25 am 
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SteveSmith wrote:
I have the Z-File and usually use it last


Steve, which one did you get?

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 Post subject: Re: Fret crowning
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 11:04 am 
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pat macaluso wrote:
SteveSmith wrote:
I have the Z-File and usually use it last


Steve, which one did you get?

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The original, StewMac #5082. They are expensive and I admit it is an indulgence but I do file a lot of frets :)

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