This is the way my frets usually look. With the extra curvature, the ends of the frets are likely to stay in place.

I cut them to about 1/4" over length.

And store them in this little block. I have two rows of holes, so that in the unlikely event I've cut a full set of frets I determine won't be usable, I can save them neatly for another job while I use the other set of holes.

I lay a sandbag on top of the guitar to keep vibration down a bit.

Balancing the fret with one finger, I tap it in place at the ends first, then work inward. I like to use 30-40 rapid, sharp, light blows to seat the fret, slowly increasing the strength of the blows as the fret goes in.

My leather covered 4 x 4 is sufficient neck support for the tapping operation. Notice how I'm holding the hammer. With the handle parallel to the fret, it's unlikely I'd dent the fret with my hammer. I use almost all wrist action to snap the hammer downward sharply.

After I have all the frets tapped in place up to the body, and over the neck block, I trim the ends to avoid getting cut as I handle the guitar.

Out over the body, there's no internal support for my hammer blows, so I have this lead ballast weight I made by pouring hot lead into a mold around a bent steel handle.

Holding the ballast inside and directly under the fret in question, I can tap as hard as I want without damaging the instrument, and I can seat the frets as neatly.
After all the frets are in place, I'll check for high ones, and give them a little more attention. This is a cool little straightedge sold by L.M.I. that bridges any three frets up and down the neck to reveal uneven ones.

Even if I don't see any high, unseated frets, I'll "iron" them anyway. I have this little 3/32" thick piece of steel to protect them from my steel hammer blows, and I simply rap them all good and hard to make sure they're well seated.

A quick dab of cyanoacrylate catalyst on each fret end will help my filling job go more easily.

My filler is simply clear medium viscosity cyanoacrylate dropped into each fret slot end. It's dark down in there, so the clear filler appears nice and dark when the job's done.

For trimming fret ends, I've ground the edges to rounded safe surfaces, and the ends to a slight taper on this 10" mill bastard file.

As I'm filing the edges flush and beveling them, notice that I'm supporting the file on the fingertips of both hands as I glide along the edge of the fingerboard.

My first strokes are nearly vertical as I trim the ends flush to the edge of the fingerboard.

Then, I'll continue filing, and roll the file over to 60 or 45 degrees, depending on the shape I want for the ends of the frets.

Here's the fret end, trimmed and beveled.

This file is called a "cant saw" file. It has corners that are just over 90 degrees and just under 45 degrees. I've ground all the corners safe to avoid scratching the fingerboard.

Using the 90+ corner, I file a bevel on each fret end. I try to hold the file at exactly the same angle as I work up and down the fingerboard, giving each fret the same single, measured, solid stroke.

The result is a sort of diamond shaped pointy fret end. Some luthiers really prize the sharp look of this kind of fret end, but I find it a bit harsh on the the old left hand.
So, I take the same file, and "break" the inside lower corner of each fret to avoid that little sharp feeling down there.
Now, you can see the results of each of these little file strokes.
Jumping ahead a bit, here's the way the fret end looks after I've rounded it over in the steps that follow. Nice and smooth to the touch.
Once the ends are treated, I turn to leveling and rounding the frets. My same old plane body works perfectly for leveling, with some 600 grit waterproof silicon carbide paper. I sand with a circular motion at first to avoid snagging the ends of the sandpaper.
And, just kiss the ends of the frets and the edge of the fingerboard to remove any little file chatter marks.
If all works out well, each fret will have a little flat strip on the top, like this.
If I've done my preparation well, and have the frets nicely seated, rounding off that little flat spot is no big deal. I can sand with the same 600 grit paper, bumping up and down the fingerboard, using only my fingers to back the paper.
I follow up with a similar sanding, using all the Micro Mesh grit cloths in sequence: 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000. It may seem like overkill to use all the grits, but it takes so little time, and I figure it couldn't hurt.
All that sanding and buffing mashes a lot of gray metal particles into the fingerboard, which I clean right up with naphtha on a rag.
I follow up with a bit of mineral oil to restore the luster and depth of shine. Now, the job is done, and it's time to string up, and hear what this baby has to say for itself!


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