Fretboards

We’re around the half-way point for all the guitars. The bodies are together and ready to go through the marquetry steps. The neck blanks are ready, but they need a fretboard. That’s what we’re taking care of next. There are four to make and all will be in similar styles. We’re having success with our colored inlay so there will be more of that for the fretboard markers. Snake wood binding and a white border binding will frame the bottom edge. A white border will also frame the top.


Every job in the CNC starts with the design process. Sometimes it takes hours and sometimes days. For creative designs, the ideas percolate for weeks.


There are two major tool paths used to create the fretboard, a radiused profiling and the fret slots. First the radius is put in. This is done with a ball end bit


A channel is routed for the white border then glued in.

Then the slots are routed.


The pigment is applied after the fretboard markers are routed. Channels for the inlay are also done. This was one of the first times. A cyanoacrylate with the green powder proved insufficient. Too many cracks and uneven fills. The process later changed to adding the pigment to an epoxy resin.
Six fretboards were created this round. The goal was to get it close to perfect. During steps like these, it’s easy to repeat most of the work, it’s possible to retry a few times. This was one of the early and unsuccessful trials.

 




There are lots of cracks in the inlay and uneven edges on the binding. It wasn’t right so another was made. On the third trial it started to work. Here is the epoxy painted on.



Drying overnight.


 

Time to put in the frets. CNC is used to make 20 blocks of differing radius, used to press in the frets. It gives an even fit and minimizes the amount of work needed later.



Three stages



The tang of the frets needs to be ground down so they don’t stick into the binding. They are put in this holding device then sanded off.




This batch is complete. It turned out nice in my opinion. Here are three.




 

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