Q's: Necessity of Fretboard, Using Fretting Scale Length Template, Using Miter Box

Hi There,

I enjoy woodworking and decided to make a small guitar for my brother. I've got a couple of construction questions and I'd appreciate any help.

1.I just learned that there is a difference between a fretboard and a guitar neck. In professional guitars, it seems the fretboard is used to hide a truss or to show off a nice wood on a budget. It doesn't seem there would be that much tension with the three strings. Is the fretboard necessary?

2. I ordered the "Fretting Scale Length Template" from CBGitty.com. With normal woodworking patterns, you size the patterns to fit the project. However, these templates that I ordered are already to size. Would most people cut the template out, lay it on their guitar neck, mark both sides of the template in pencil, and then cut the frets?

3. CBGitty.com also sells a plywood miter box called a "fret-cutting jig." What is the advantage of this over a traditional miter box and square jig? Will one of these suffice for cutting the fret trenches? Is there something special about a "fret-cutting jig?" (I have seen the very expensive jigs used by the pros and there is no way I'm investing in one of those!)

Thanks for your interest and help.


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The saw I intended to use is .022". It's a real go-to for any general purpose cutting and it is fantastic for dovetails and finger joints too. Japanese saws are very popular right now and I'm all for them!

Good advice on the fretboard. I'm hearing you say something similar to Taffy, which is to be careful with the height of the strings. I like the idea of using a prettier wood like zebra or kingwood, but I also like the idea that these little guitars are mostly functional and made out of necessity.

Thanks again, Oily!


I had to have I little chuckle reading this thread, been there done that.

Must have been 40 odd years ago, trying to find the best saw for fretting. I posted a few through the ages. Now I use the Stumac circular saw and their fretting pull saw.

Back in the day I tried increasing the set on the saw for a wider slot, or removing the set of the teeth to get a finer slot. Happy days!

Cheers Taff 

There is no way I'm going to start filing down teeth. You're a committed man, Taff, I'll give you that! --MB

HaHa, you don't have to do that now days,the proper tools are easily available.

Cutting the slots for the frets was very easy thanks to everyone's advice. I used a Japanese saw which is always a pleasure to use. To keep it straight, I just put the neck into a traditional miter box (I think a $5 plastic miter box would be fine). For each slot, it took just a few quick pulls of the saw to get sufficient depth. I'm sure all those Spanish guitar makers have a better technique, but this worked very well! Thanks, everyone!


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