I am having trouble with round fret markers. 
When I drill the circle the wood tears out and ruins the fret board.  I am replacing one now because of this.  A round punch would be ideal if there is such a thing.  Any advise?

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I like big dots, so I use  a 3/8" forstner bit to make my dot holes - though 1/4" is probably closer to the norm.  I make the dots with 3/8" and 1/4" plug cutters.

Yes, I was using regular drill bits. Thanks, the forstner bits seem to leave a clean hole for the dots.  I tried it on my old fingerboard and it worked well. I was about to give up on dots, but they are so much better with the forstner bits, that I will continue to use them.

drilling marker holes.


Nice.  Where did u get your plug cutter?  jh

I think I got both the plug cutter and forstner bit at Home Depot. But you can easily find then elsewhere too.


Good replies by all!

For smaller holes, you might try a quality brad-point drill bit for similar results.

Another option for marker material is common plastic rod in lengths of white or black, available from luthier suppliers.

Common twist drills are generally a poor choice for use in wood. I generally only use them for things like small screw holes or starter holes where the tear out or rough edge will be covered or hidden.



Never thought of the plastic rods.  Who has them and what size are available.  I was going to try the abalone shell  5 mm size but the plastic rod sounds like a good possibility.  Thanks for the idea, Mark

I know StewMac sells the small ones for side dot markers.  I have not tried it myself, but I know that people have used plastic chopsticks for the fboard dots. The ones from PF Chang's are supposed to be particularly good. Another option is to punch some dots out of guitar picks. You can get some cool patterns in tortoise shell, pearloid, etc. that way.

That too is a good idea, what do you use for a punch?

Just a regular paper hole punch from an office supply store. Thin picks are easiest, but you can punch through a medium pick if you've got a strong grip. I agree with MBliss; side fret position markers are probably more important than the fret board dots. Unless you are playing a lap, the side of the neck is usually the part you are looking at while playing. 

On my builds, I just drill shallow holes in the side of the fboard and fill them with either white or dark-tinted wood filler, then sand them flush. Super quick & easy.

I'll try that, a paper punch.  Wood filler another possibility.  Thanks.


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