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Old 02-08-2021, 01:54 PM
Red Dog Red Dog is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 23
Default Need advice on installing frets

I'm building a Stewart MacDonald OM-18 kit and am to the point of installing frets and am making a mess of it. I thought this would be the easy part of the build.

For your info, the fretboard is slotted and radiused and fret wire is pre-radiused, which seems like should be pretty easy but I've still managed to bungle it! A few of the frets seated properly, but most only seated in the middle while the ends stay up regardless of how gently or firmly I tap them. I'm using a Stewart MacDonald fret hammer and am installing them glue.

The kit instructions suggest setting the fret with one firm tap at each end and then tapping back and forth until firmly seated. It's not working for me.

There's something that doesn't seem right with the material that came with the kit. The slots are a full 1/8" deep but the tang on the fret wire is only about 1/32", leaving a full 3/32" of space below the tang. Logic tells me that the tangs should go deeper into the slots.

I've read forums and watched various YouTube videos and, like other tasks, there are plenty of ways to do this one thing. Some do it dry, some use Titebond and others, CA, at least on the ends. But it seems that for the CA to be effective, the tangs would have to extend further into the slot.

I pulled those frets that didn't seat at all and got some tearout at the slot but have cobbled the chips together using CA glue and ebony dust.

According to reviews I read before ordering the kit, Stewart MacDonald offered great support. But after ordering, I find that, since Covid, the only source of support is via email, and it usually takes a week or so to get an answer to a question. And if I need clarification, it's another email and another week.

I've considered getting a new fretboard and fret wire and starting over, but thought I solicit some advice before I do that. Any opinions or help would be greatly appreciated.
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