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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:55 pm 
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First name: Gil
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I thought I would share a trick for pulling frets that I have developed which has almost completely eliminated chip outs. Many are familiar with using a soldering iron to heat up the frets before pulling them and also using steam to remove dents. So I thought, why not use steam to aid in removing frets? The trick is simple. Place the soldering iron on one end of the fret and slowly work it along the fret while using a pipette to drop water on the fret at the tip of the iron. Use as much water as necessary to get a good sizzle and work the iron back and forth across the fret for as long as it takes to loosen everything up, usually about 30 seconds to one minute per fret. The steam will loosen any glue and lubricate the fret slot allowing the frets to come out easily. I have done about 30 fret jobs since using this method and I have only had a few chip outs. It really works.

Some considerations:

Chip outs are much reduced but more likely to occur on fretboards that have been previously refretted, particularly if difficult glues such as CA glue or epoxy were used to glue in the frets. Also previous chip out repairs may come undone.

The water gets hot fast and tends to run off the edge of the fretboard which can cause blushing. This has not been an issue for me on newer instruments but I have had occasional blushing on older delicate finishes. If blushing may be an issue hold a paper towel on the edge of the fretboard to soak up any water that may fall off the edge of the fretboard. Celluloid binding may also blush which was the case on the banjo in my picture tutorial below but I am not concerned about it in this instance since I plan to replace the binding.

I hope this is useful. Happy refretting!

Pics...
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These users thanked the author Goodin for the post (total 5): jrdnvctrmyr (Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:18 am) • Clinchriver (Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:02 pm) • SteveSmith (Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:06 pm) • dpetrzelka (Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:16 pm) • Smylight (Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:10 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:24 pm 
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Done it myself plenty of times. Got the idea from Dan Erlewine years ago.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:28 pm 
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Didn't figure I was the first to think of this!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:57 pm 
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Great. I'll try that thanks



These users thanked the author mike-p for the post: Goodin (Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:13 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:05 pm 
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Koa
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I use the soldering iron but without water. I'll try it next time.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:07 pm 
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Freeman wrote:
I use the soldering iron but without water. I'll try it next time.


Same here. Thanks Gil.

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These users thanked the author SteveSmith for the post: Goodin (Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:13 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:50 pm 
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This is a great tip. For my shop I actually apply solder to the frets, to me it seems to help hold the heat in better. I could be completely wrong on this. But it works.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:51 pm 
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I can’t remember ever pulling frets without water, so I must have got the method from somewhere. In my case, I probably use less than what you show in your pictures — it only requires a little run along either side of the fret.
As for solder, I’ve noticed that residual solder on my iron does improve heat transfer and speeds up removal, but I only use it purposely on stubborn frets.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:55 am 
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Tim Mullin wrote:
In my case, I probably use less than what you show in your pictures — it only requires a little run along either side of the fret.


The water tends to spread out across the fretboard as it heats up so there is less water here than what it looks like in the pics. Around 10-15 drops. But yeah, as little as necessary to get a good sizzle all across the fret.



These users thanked the author Goodin for the post: FlyingFred (Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:32 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:26 pm 
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The timing on this is kind of ironic. Yesterday I got a 6 string bass that the guy wants converted to fretless. Obviously minimizing damage to the board is going to be very important. Fwiw I'm going to fill the slots with rosewood purfling (he knows there will be a slight line)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:34 pm 
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I bought a bass that had been « defretted » like that, but the repairman used maple inserts, which are awesome to help you getting the note just right.


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