#1
Is there any way to get good fret leveling tools for less than $150? I'm looking around a bit but I have no idea where to start, and the Stewmac stuff is the only stuff I've found that looks really legit.

I know I want these:

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Fretting/Shaping_and_crowning/Fret_Fingerboard_Leveling_Files.html

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Fretting/Shaping_and_crowning/Fret_Beveling_File.html

But I'm not sure what to get for crowning and end dressing. Want to keep it as cheap as possible. =/
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(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
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#2
For leveling, you can use any reasonably wide abrasive surface, like a sharpening stone or some sandpaper glued to a sheet of glass.
For beveling, you can make your own jig by cutting a slot into a block of wood at a 30 degree angle. Some people bevel frets freehand.

End dressing can be done with a needle file and steel wool. Crowning is kind of awkward, I've read about it being done with needle files as well but it takes a steady hand. Really, the crowning file is the only tool here that would be worth the investment.
#3
Quote by sashki
Crowning is kind of awkward, I've read about it being done with needle files as well but it takes a steady hand. Really, the crowning file is the only tool here that would be worth the investment.


This.
I've done fret dresses twice and the crowning is always the bit I dread the most now, mainly because it takes so long.
I have a Crimson Guitars fret levelling file and it's very good. Nice and ergonomic and it has free lifetime file replacements too.
My Dad used to be a jeweller, so he has an assortment of different files I use for crowning, but I find that a simple triangular file with ground corners works the best for me.

Overall, get a basic 7" fret levelling file and a set of regular files and you should be good to go. Bear in mind that the result of the 35 degree jig could be accomplished with a levelling file with a bit of patience too.
Last edited by CorrosionMedia at Feb 18, 2015,
#4
Home Depot sells an 8"X2" sharpening stone that does a good job of leveling frets. Get a real fret file or two. in my opinion this is one place you can't go cheap. If you have different guitars with different size frets you'll probably need a set of fret files. I tried crowning with smaller jewelers files but while that may work for some people, it doesn't for me. It takes to long and wasn't as uniform as I like.

Buy your masking tape from a paint supply store or Lowes or Home Depot (if there is one in your area) and get the kind the painters use because it comes off clean with no residue left behind. I like the blue 3M stuff.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Feb 18, 2015,
#5
I ordered a 3 sided file with one concave side for crowning. Seemed like a good place to start, I'll see what I can do with that.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
#6
I Use a triangular file with all 3 corners ground off for crowning, a good way to level them is with a long wood plane (blade removed of course) and some sandpaper taped onto it. The one I use is a really old one about 14" long, plenty to keep things straight all the way down the neck. For crowning I couldn't afford specialized files, so I use the triangular job and put masking tape on both sides of each fret as I go to help protect the fretboard. SLow and careful is the way to go.

Check these threads for some ideas on tools and stuff...

http://music-electronics-forum.com/t37596/

OK wait a minute, here's the main forum section, you'll find a couple of good threads on luthier tools and tricks people have picked up doing it, some of these guys know a lot more about it than I do.

http://music-electronics-forum.com/f9/

That site is also good for info on wiring and such, it's primarily an amp electronics forum.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#7
As noted, anything hard and flat will do for levelling - I use an inexpensive diamond hone. I made a bevelling block of similar design to the Stewmac one.

I have tried a number of crowning files, including triangular, and my favourite is this:

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Files/Dual-grit_Diamond_Fret_File.html

It is very easy and fast to use, and has two grades of grit. Wrapped in abrasive paper, it also works well for finishing the crowns.

I also use fret masks, either home made from drink can, or the Stewmac ones.
#8
I bit the bullet and bought this one:

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Files/Offset_Diamond_Fret_File.html

it's expensive but in my opinion worth every penny. For beveling I just got a plain file and cut a slot to a wood block to fit it. Leveling with straight planed block of maple with slightly rounded ends plus appropriate grit sandpaper.
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