FRETS.COM When Frets Go Wrong

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Reinforcing Fret Slots
© Frank Ford, 3/3/00; Photos by FF

Here's a Martin D-28, just after the neck has been reset, and the frets removed for refretting. That shiny spot at the 15th fret is a little fill where the steam access hole chipped out as I removed the steam needle:

You can't really see it, but this fingerboard had a bit of a problem. It really wanted to chip. It's quite dry and brittle, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able even to bevel the tops of the fret slots without raising little chips of ebony.

I painted on some thin viscosity cyanoacrylate to run down into the fret slots, and up into the end grain of the ebony to harden and toughen the fingerboard:

As soon as I'd painted on the cyanoacrylate, I cleaned out the fret slots. On this D-28, I used my oldest thin blade saw because the glue was still wet down inside the slots. If it had been a bound fingerboard, I'd have used my fret slot pick to drag out both the cured and uncured cyanoacrylate.

Now, after I've leveled and sanded the fingerboard, it looks great:

And, it will also be much less prone to chipping as I install my new frets.

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