Do you install your frets before or after you glue it onto the neck? Why? Inquiring minds want to know!

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I'd like the answer to this, too. I'm working on build #'s 3 and 4.  Both are going to be soprano ukulele's with tapered necks and a scarf mounted head. 

I'm going to try this next:

  1. shape the neck.
  2. layout the frets on a nice square piece of whatever I use for the fretboard.  Here, I am lucky, I think I've found a way to do this using a laser cutter at the local makerspace and setting to etch, not cut, the layout.  (Might even do some nice fancy fret markers)
  3. Cut the fret slots to depth at the etched spots
  4. join the fretboard to the neck
  5. sand/cut the fretboard to fit the neck
  6. set the frets and any inlay
  7. dress the frets
  8. string it up, it'll teach it a lesson

I had read about people fretting the boards before installing it. My concern is by putting in the frets that the board would bow up as if wedges were hammered in. I don't know but would like to find out. Definitely simplify things going that route. IMO

I don't think that would be a problem as long as your interface between the neck and the fret board are 100% parallel and flat.  

Yeah, doing it all off the neck would be nice, especially things like radiusing the fret board.

I'm working on uke's now, with no radius to worry about, and having the makerspace around lets me have access to some better tools than I have at home.  I might try doing one of my next two with fret board install after fretting and then the other before fretting.  They are identical boxes.  

Keep me posted on how it worked out.

I don't use a separate fret board for my ukes - they're installed directly into the neck itself.

I cut the slots, using a pull saw, BEFORE any shaping or tapering work is carried out, so the slots can be at 90 degrees to the neck's centreline.

The frets themselves are fitted just prior to lacquering.


So you lacquer the frets in, that's a question off my list. Clever idea for the depth gauge. Thanks, Nice work!

If necessary, I'll add a tiny spot of CA glue at the ends of the frets before I start getting aggressive with the filing!


I have seen it done both ways, and i have done it both ways.,.,but the way I do it is to install the frets first.,.,then glue the board down..,I leave the zero fret out.,.,then I level the frets.,.,then I install the zero fret.,.,this is the way i learned to do it.,.,but you can do it either way.,.,as far as the board bowing from the frets being installed, that depends on the fret slot width.,,.even with narrow slots and big fret tangs, clamping it down while the glue dries takes care of that.,.,

Oh.,.,and I shellac the Oak FB after the board is glued down.,,.


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