FRETS.COM When Frets Go Wrong

A special problem with very old dry ebony boards
Fingerboard Chips on Insertion
© Frank Ford, 3/3/00; Photos by FF

If it weren't enough that ebony chips like crazy when you remove frets, just look at this little devil:

When I tapped the fret in place on this vintage Martin D-35, the brittle fingerboard chipped. You can see how the barb on the fret tang actually pushed this little flake up and buckled it.

I mash the flake down with my fingernail or a screwdriver blade, and drip on a bit of thin viscosity cyanoacrylate:

Then, scraping with a razor blade, I level the spot:

Notice that I have tape protecting the blade everywhere except right over the chip I'm trying to level. I can't risk even one cross grain stroke with a file or sandpaper because I'd have too many scratches to clean up. IF I do sand at all, I'll use a thin flexible six inch rule as a sanding block, and working with 600 grit, I'll sand just a bit, only with the grain.

Here's the result:

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