I always suspect that most builders put the frets in after the fretboard is glued to the neck. I make the fretboard, cut the fret slots, and hammer in the frets on the bench. I generally put the fretboard in temporarily with double backed tape just to make sure everything is good. Then I string it up and play it a bit . After that I will cut the sound hole, glue the fretboard and string it up again. When I clamp the fretboard for glue, I consider this operation the final fret seating process. I have plenty of clamp pressure across all the frets. Also, I have a special board that I put on top, which is a little narrower than the fretboard so that I can see the alignment of the fb on the neck. I won't even check for high frets until the fb is glued in. If I were to hammer the frets in after the fb is glued, I would have to make a jig to support the neck.
I agree. We all have our methods and reasons for using different sequences. It may be due to the tools we have or don't have, our experience level, the different type of instruments we are building, etc. I am continually looking for and experimenting with different methods of building to ultimately make the build faster and better.
That's true with me, Gary. My methods are based entirely on getting it done with what I have available.
I broke down and bought a fret blade for my table saw, and use a shooting board with a template. I make 10-20 fretboards at once... I rip the widths, then cut to length, setup and fret... It saves me a ton of time, and I'm buying 1/4" thick exotic hardwoods from a wood supplier that specializes in hardwood floors... $60 gets me a good 30 fretboards and scraps to make banjo style bridges...
Then I have a template for marking fret markers.. I drill a bunch of fretboards at a time for inlay...
I'll glue the inlay dots in, sand them flush on a fine grit beltsander, Then they get glued to the neck, sanded flush. I apply 2-3 coats of wipe on poly, then fret.... I finish the frets on the belt sander, then cleanup the edges with a file. A wipe down with poly on the edges, and the neck is ready to glue to the box, or add a tailpiece, etc.
Hey John, I've seen pictures of the table saw method, that seems like the best way to get the best results. Do you have less filing high frets and whatnot since you started using the tablesaw?