Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brendan’s Mandolin Part VII

After it's been glued on, the fingerboard has to be levelled and once it’s perfectly flat, I put a camber on it. Most of this work is done by sanding as you can’t afford to tear the grain of the fingerboard.

Once the surface of the fingerboard has been prepared, the inlays go in.Drilling holes within the inlayed area makes the initial stages of chiselling out the recess much easier as the chisel has some where to go.
The inlays are glued in, cleaned up and we’re ready to fret.

You can buy specialist tools for fret work but I use a ball-pein hammer for inserting the fret, as you can see the face has been polished so that the frets don’t get damaged or marked. Also I use these cutters for the fret wire: this is one of my favourite tools, made by Starrett in 1889! The double lever action means that you can cut through any fret wire with the minimum of effort.

At Brendan’s request I’m using wide gold evo wire here. One secret of successfully hammering frets in is to make sure that the neck is supported and can’t bounce.

Before I level the frets, I go over them with a red crayon. Once you start levelling them any red spots mean that the fret is low in that area. For all my fingerboard/fret levelling I use a piece of high-quality square section aluminium tube, with a different grade of abrasive paper on each surface.
Then comes a good couple of hours of dressing and polishing the frets...........

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