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Hi Evan, I've always used the Stew Mac fret calculator: http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Fretting/i-fretcalc.html although there are others available. There are links on the page to explain scale lengths, which I found useful on my first build. Once you have the measurements I would advise measuring each fret from the nut rather than measuring the distances between frets. If you measure from fret to fret and mess one up, then they are all messed up from that point onwards! Also, check and double check the measurements (and then check again) before you cut!
I've used the Stewmac fret calculator for most of my fretting jobs. Very easy to use, but you still need to take care when measuring and marking.
On my last build I used a pattern you can use from the Handmade Music Factory book. There are a number of scale lengths (the measurement from nut to bridge), that should work for you.
C.B. Gitty has some fretting advice available here http://www.cbgitty.com/?p=154
I'm not sure what you might be able to do to rescue the neck you're working on, but someone else might have some ideas and advice.
I hope I've been of some help.
I find that when doing Cigar Box Guitars, the banjo scale is usually the most accurate. That's because most CBG bridges function similarly to banjo bridges. To make sure the bridge is located in the right position (after you've fretted and strung it up), use a tuner to make sure the string is in tune. Very lightly touch the string directly above the 12th fret and pluck the string. You should get a nice, clear, bell-tone called a harmonic. Make sure your tuner is reading this as "In Tune." If not, tune it so it is. Then fret the sting at the 12th fret as if you were playing and check the tuning again. If the note is still in tune, you're good to go. If the note is sharp, you will need to move the bridge further from the fingerboard. If it is flat, you will need to move it closer to the fingerboard. Repeat this process in small increments until you're happy. If you're using a one-piece bridge, you will likely not get all of the stings perfect. Do your best!
You should also check out the Scale Lengths, etc. group. I understand it was established by a brilliant man to answer these types of questions...
I did a short beginner's video on how to fret a neck, you can find it on my personal page here. I also have some pre-defined fret templates in PDF format that I could send you if you wanted. You just print them out and tape them to your fretboard.
You should have them now. Hollar if you have any questions.
banjo, guitar, mando, none will be any more accurate than any other, they all use a mathematic formula called the 'rule of 18' (actually closer to 17.817..)
if you got an iPhone theres a couple calculators on the app store, the best one by far is called 'JeFretCalc', its free and was coded by a member of this site
This is the only way to do it.
I print the template from WFret software for my desired scale and use spray 3m77 glue to attach it to the fingerboard stock. I cut the slots right through the paper template. Works perfect every time.
http://www.harpkit.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=... Best tool for a builder !!! i`ve turned so many builders on to this fret chart i`ve lost count. Scales from 13" to 31" all fret marks just line up the fretboard to the scale you want to use and copy the the lines. I`ve had my chart goin on 20 years...it`s dead on. it`s a big heavy paper chart..2' x 3' i have mine mounted on a piece of 1/4" panel. Wish i could stick this link where all the builders could see it...i must have threw it on fretting discussions for a few years now...yeah check it out...cheap price for a very useful tool.
I really wish they had a better pic up on the site. Any way you could post a pic?