I ain't got the skills to fret yet. Wow what a major PITA.

Tried the zip ties in fret slots. Works, but it's depth sensitive. Thought I could sand them down, but they (at least the white ones) start to hold crud and lose visibility.

Also, even though they're plastic, stain likes them.

So based on a pic I saw here somewhere where a guy used finishing nails for frets, I tried a modification...

In the pic you see 3 things, a near-finished fretboard, a pull saw, and some air nailer 2-inch brads.

The saw cuts the perfect slot to fit the brads. They are not frets, just fret markers, the board is essentially fretless (except for the zero). 3 drops of superglue and they tap in flush. Cut LOTS easier than fret wire too. Obviously, it's diatonic. Gonna try color somehow, because if I can do that, I can make that hybrid marked fretless board, different colors for chromatic and diatonic. 

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Good morning
I have used finish nails as frets on old school dulcimer. I did like you did and made the saw mark first then rounded it out slightly with a file.
As for color could you heat it with a torch? I realize you would have to it before install. Just a thought.

how did you keep the cut depth consistent?

James

It was a pain but I have a small adjustable square I use like a caliper. After the height is set for the first one it is easy to move from fret to fret and keep them consistent. I then made the nut and bridge to fit the fret height. I will try to upload pictures when I get back home from this service call.
Dave

Thx. Pix would help...

James
I don’t know how to posts pic of the nail frets. It won’t let me copy and paste. I’ll try to figure something out
Dave

Look at the top of the text entry box. Just to the right of the chain links (for posting a link) is the icon of a mountain and sun/moon. Click that.

An option I use to mark a fret less is to cut where the fret markers need to be the stain the fret board with stain or ink. When dry you then sand back the fret board.
The fret slots will then retain the stain color and the fret board will be the original color but with some beautifully filled grain.

If you want to try fretting, I found wire coat hangers are a cheap and easy fix. Just cut a small slot and work with a small round file to get width and depth, cut hanger to length and put a few small drops of gel super glue on the wire and pop it in the slot you made.
I tried this and it worked well and gave me the confidence to start cutting frets with proper fret wire.

That fret board had a portion of that treatment, and I was really surprised at how cool the board ended up looking. I didn't sand off all of the stain, but did re-stain some after and it worked really well with the metal markers.

For fret lines and markers I cut lines across the neck about 16th inch deep and filled them with 2 part casting resin mixed with color powder. A build for my wife I used metallic purple. After it cures, sand it flush with the neck. It worked and looked great. You can get powder tinting in almost any color. My next build will be with brass powder to match the tuners and the brass bolts that I'll use for the bridge and nut.

Sounds pretty cool. You know, I tried something on a whim, but I had stained the wood so I couldn't sand it as much as I wanted, but if you are going to finish with polyurethane, I think spackle works. Just takes a bit of extra sanding to get it all out of the grain.

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