The Fretboard Radius Jig
A NEW and simple way to put a radius on your fretboard using a thickness sander! Ever radiused a fretboard in under 5 minutes using a sanding block? This is every guitar makers dream. Well now it can be done with this new jig and a wide belt sander.
This jig was created and used by Edward Victor Dick of EVD Stringed Instruments, and Director of The Colorado School of Lutherie. Edward has been trying to find a way to make this step as quick and painless as possible, and has finally overcome this after 30 years of building. When we tested this jig, we were amazed that we could radius a fretboard in under 5 minutes and it was within 10 thousandths of accuracy!
It's no secret that one of the most painful jobs of building a fretted instrument is radiusing the fretboard. There are many ways to do this, but if you already own a wide belt sander, like a performax or delta, or grizzly, you can do this job in minutes. It is as simple as sticking the fretboard on top of the jig and sending it through your sander. After every pass, loosen the knobs and move the fretboard about 1/4 inch and send it back through your sander. After about 5 passes, you have a radiused fretboard. To see video of the jig in use, go HERE.
Fretboard Radius Jig
The jig has 4 main parts. A base made out of 3/4" thick MDF, and a fret board rest made out of 2" thick 13ply Birch Plywood, and 2 end pieces that contain the curved radius' dado so the rest can move in the desired radius. Knobs on the outside of the jig lock the fret board rest into place. We also imbed 2 steel rods in the rest to resist deflection as it passes through the sander. The jig comes with interchangeable end pieces. We offer 12", 14", 16" and 20" radii. Custom Radii are available for an extra $25 for 2 end pieces. Please contact us for more information.
This jig will not do a compound radius.
This jig will work with all Wide Belt Sanders that have an opening of 3 inches or more.
You must use a ¼” thick fret board to get the correct radius. The curves of the end pieces are calculated for a ¼” thick fret board. If you use a slightly thicker fret board you will not get the exact radius, but you will get very close to the desired radius.
Overall Dimensions: 24" L x 2 5/8" H x 6" W
Fretboard Rest Dimensions: 21" L x 3" W
NOTE: We recently changed the fretboard rest from MDF to Birch Ply due to its stiffer properties. So please see new picture on the left showing the birch ply fret board rest.
NOTE: Not all sanders are made the same, so the deflection in the middle of jig could be more than 10 thousands of an inch. However, this can easily be overcome by placing masking tape under the fretboard before passing it through the thickness sander.
NOTE: Since the pictures on the left were taken, we now reference the bases by using dots imprinted. So 1 dot is equal to 12" radius, 2 dots are equal to 14" radius, and so on. We do this as an easy way to tell what radius you are using.
Price: $199.00 (plus $14 shipping)
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|How to Use This Product|
Instructions are broken down into 3 parts - Introduction, Assembly, and Use:
2. The jig comes completely disassembled. You will need to make sure you have all the parts that should be in the box. You should have 8 end pieces(2-12" Radius, 2-14" Radius, 2-16" Radius, and 2-20" Radius). 1 Fretboard Rest, 2 black knobs, 1 base, and 4 screws.
3. Start by choosing what radius you want your fretboard to be. Select the 2 end pieces and rub them against the end of the fret board rest to loosen the groove. You should always do your first test on a practice fretboard. You will need to determine how much deflection is caused by the sander and take precautions later in the test.
4. Attach the 2 end pieces.
5. Place the 2 ends in the dado's on the base and then put the knobs back on the threaded rod, but do not tighten all the way.
6. Flip the jig over and make sure the ends are flush with the sides of the base. Attach all 4 screws. You may need to adjust the barrell nuts by turning them to line up the holes so the screws go in easily. Make sure it is tightened very snug and there are no gaps between the 2 ends and the bottom of the dado.
7. Draw a centerline on your fretboard rest. Drill holes in the waste area of the fretboard. Or you can use double stick tape to attach the fretboard. If you do use double stick tape, make sure it is thin, and that you place it in the middle of the fretboard, since this area is where the deflection occurs. The tape will help raise this area. Draw a centerline on your fretboard. Place the fretboard on the jig and line up the centerline of the fretboard with the centerline of the fretboard rest. Screw the fretboard down and make sure the screws are countersunk so the screw heads are below the top of the fretboard. To make this job easier in the future, you can create a template out of poster board that marks the exact location of the screw holes. So you can place the template on another fretboard and locate the exact screw holes everytime.
8. Make sure the fretboard and the base are in the middle and lined up with the centerline on the jig. Go ahead and make the first pass through the thickness sander. The drum should be in the most open position available, and as you pass the jig through, lower the drum slowly. Just as it contacts the fretboard stop lowering the drum. Send the jig through one more time to get an even pass on the fretboard.
9. Loosen the 2 knobs and move the fretboard rest over evenly by about 1/4". Be sure to line up the reference marks and make sure both ends are symmetrical at each end. Always start from the middle and work towards the edge. This allows you to remove as little material as possible while not affecting the deflection too much.
10. Tighten the knobs then place some white pencil marks on the fretboard so you can check your progress with each pass. Then go ahead and send the jig through the thickness sander. Continue moving the fretboard rest in one direction either right or left, then go back to the center and go the opposite direction. The video shows starting all the way to the left, but this was only to show progress of sanding.
11. Place your radius gauge on your fretboard to check for radius, and then admire your work!
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