Our fret slotting system will save you a considerable amount of time and since the fretboard the most accuracy, our system will allow you to get your fretting dead-on accurate for any scale you choose.
The system requires several items that any will equipped wood shop already has. The tool list is as follows:
- Table saw with miter gauge slots
- Miter Gauge
- Power Drill w/Bits and Counter-sink
Also, you will need fretting templates, which are 1/8” acrylic sheets with slots for each scale. These are available at our site http://shopglss.com
The final piece in the fret slotting system is the saw blade to cut the proper width slot for the fret tangs. These blades are usually 6” diameter with a small kerf of .023”. The photo below shows the 6” narrow-kerf plate with the (2) blade stiffeners.
Here is a source for these blades: http://lmii.com Their blades are 6” diameter, have a .0245” kerf, a 5/8” arbor and 110 teeth on the blade which will make a super smooth slot. Additionally since this is such a thin blade you will need to place blade stiffeners on each side of the blade to hold the blade true during use.
Steward McDonald also carries a circular saw blade that can be used in a standard table saw. It is considerably more expensive, but does not require blade stiffeners and is a little easier to install and remove if you make a lot of fret boards. The blade can be purchased at http:/stewmac.com.
The best type of miter gage is one that will allows for adjustment laterally, or perpendicular to the miter gauge travel as shown in the photo above. While not necessary for the system, it is sure nice to be able to make these micro-adjustments when setting up the jig. Note that you will only need to make this adjustment with the system and therefore you can easily clamp the slotting fence to your miter gauge.
Assembly of the Fret Slotting Fence:
The fence consists of only (3) pieces of wood. The two plywood fence cutouts and the ebony registration pin.
Begin by cutting out the two pieces of 3/4” (19mm) plywood. Drill attachment holes as shown and match up to your table saw miter gauge.
Fasten the fence and fence reinforcement pieces of plywood together.
Depending on the configuration of your miter gauge you may need to install a nut and bolt arrangement (as I did for my miter gauge as shown in the photo below. This allows the nut/bolt assembly to be slid into the miter gauge face and tightened from the front of the slotting system fence.
The photo below shows this more clearly.
Next it is critical to cut the registration pin, which is the device that connects to the acrylic template. I prefer to make this pin from very hard wood or from aluminum. I use Ebony but you could use Hard Maple, or other hard wood.
The pin should be about 1” (25mm) in length and 1/2” (12mm) high and 1/8” (3mm) in thickness. The pin should be test-fit to the template grooves and adjusted carefully to provide a snug fit without any play.
Glue the pin into place in the system fence with wood glue and let dry.
Now is the time to test fit the template grooves to the registration pin. Adjust the pin thickness with a sanding stick by sanding just a little bit at a time and test fitting often, which is key to accuracy.
Once your are satisfied with your pin to template fit you are ready to start cutting your fret boards!
Cutting Fret Slots With The Georgia Luther Supply Fret Slotting System:
The first step in this process is the installation of the proper sawblade in your table saw. I prefer to use a 6” diameter x 110 tooth circular saw blade with a kerf of 023 inches. Sources are mentioned above.
First remove your standard blade from the saw and install the fret slotting blade, along with the stiffeners to stabilize the blade during the slotting system. Also I prefer to make a blade insert that allows the saw blade to extend up through the table with little extra space on either side. Here is my setup below…
This allows both the blade and stiffeners to extend through the insert. You should make sure that the insert is shimmed up to exactly match the top surface of the table.
Preparation of the Fretboard:
Cut the fretboard from the selected wood species. The fretboard should be cut to thickness, rough sanded. The width of the fretboard is un-important at this time, but while you are at it you can cut is to within 1 or 2mm and the taper is accurate from the nut to the fretboard end.
The fretboard should be cut about 1/4” minimum longer than the finished dimension.
Note that if you intend to place a radius on your fretboard this should be done after the slotting is completed.
In this step it will be necessary to attach the fretboard to the slotting template (the 1/8” clear acrylic template available from Georgia Luthier Supply.
Note that the template has (2) different scales – one along each side of the template. Choose the proper scale and mark it with a piece of masking tape.
Start by scribing a centerline lengthwise on the face of the acrylic template with a sharp knife. Also make the centerline on the backside of the fretboard.
Use double-stick tape to attach the fretboard to the acrylic template. I use two pieces of tape the full length of the fretboard. Burnish the tape on the wood with slight finger pressure.
Carefully align the centerlines of both the template and the fretboard. The first slot of the template represents the backside of the nut, so you should mount the fretboard so this first cut will be about 1/8” or so from the end of the nut end of the fretboard.
Secure the fretboard in place and tap along its length with a rubber hammer.
Install the System Fence on the saw miter gauge as shown in the photo above. It is at this time I like to adjust the cutting depth of the blade and test cut a few scraps of wood and compare the depth to the fret tang I will be using.
Next, adjust the system fence laterally so the first fret slot will be cut about 1/8” from the nut end of the fretboard – also shown in the photo.
Proceed to cut all the fret slot by shifting the template along the registration pin. Make sure to hold the template/fretboard firmly against the fence.
Remove the fretboard from the template and cut the fretboard to length with a Japanese pull saw with a fine blade on the first fret cut and you are done!
Fret slotting templates:
Each template is made from 1/8” clear acrylic and has two different scales – one alone each edge of the template. You can choose which scale you want and we will custom make each template for you.
Note if you prefer to have a custom scale or one that is not indicated here, please email us for a quote for that and we will custom make a template for you. (Select 2 scales for the template).
To date we have the following scales standard:
- 346mm (13.622”) Soprano Ukulele
- 381mm (15.00”) Concert Ukulele
- 432.5mm (17.00”) Tenor Ukulele
- 511.2mm (20.126”) Baritone Ukulele
Acoustic Guitar Scales:
- 650mm (25.59”) Classical Guitar 650mm Scale
- 660mm (25.98”) Classical Guitar 650mm Scale
- 541mm (21.3”) Martin Size 5
- 645.2mm (25.40”) Dreadnought, Dreadnought SS, Jumbo (J200), J45, 000 Concert, 000-28vs, OM-14 Fret, GA, GS, HD-28vs, Dreadnought 12, Jumbo 12, GA 12, GS 12
- 632.4mm (24.90”) 0-28vs, 00-28vs
- 596.9mm (23.50”) GS Mini
- 647.7mm (25.50”) Collings DS2H
Electric Guitar Scales:
- 647.7mm (25.50”) ’72 Deluxe Telecaster, American Telecaster, ’69 Telecaster Thinline, ’60’s Stratocaster, ’62 Jazzmaster, ’65 American Vintage Jazzmaster, Floyd Rose Classic Strat HH, L5 CES, Ibanez JEM
- 609.6mm (24.00”) ’62 Jaguar, ’69 American Vintage Jaguar
- 647.0mm (25.47”) Wolfgang EVH Special
- 628.7mm (24.75”) Wolfgang EVH Custom, Les Paul Standard, Les Paul Standard Double Cutaway, Les Paul Jr., SG Standard, Flying “V”, Explorer, Firebird Studio, ES335, Melodymaker