Fret Slot saw recommendations

bjorn218

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Could anyone recommend a saw I could look into aside from a Hosco or Zona? Both of those saws have way too much flex in the blade to allow me to cut decent slots in a fretboard. The blade on either of those saws wants to bow and jump out of line even when using a jig that presses against the blade on both sides. I really would like to not lunch another piece of ebony if at all possible.
 

cmjohnson

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I found that these (if it's the one pictured) is quite a nice fret slot saw. And they're inexpensive and available at Harbor Freight. The kerf width is perfect for fret slots.

Just be aware, sometimes they sell a similar saw that is not suitable as its kerf width is too wide.

Look for THIS one shown and no other. It's Japanese made and the brand is usually Topman, on a decal attached to the handle. If it's not like that, it may not have the right kerf.
 
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LtDave32

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I found that these (if it's the one pictured) is quite a nice fret slot saw. And they're inexpensive and available at Harbor Freight. The kerf width is perfect for fret slots.

Just be aware, sometimes they sell a similar saw that is not suitable as its kerf width is too wide.

Look for THIS one shown and no other. It's Japanese made and the brand is usually Topman, on a decal attached to the handle. If it's not like that, it may not have the right kerf.
Those flop around, is his trouble. No spine.
I have one of those from Ace. .023 kerf.

The crown saw above has a brass spine, is much taller and has more weight, the slots practically cut themselves with a simple drawback, and it will not flex.
 

cmjohnson

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I know it's not ideal but they're cheap and useful for cleaning up slots in boards that are already slotted.
 

bjorn218

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Thank you guys. Im looking into that Crown saw. I have two Zona saws and the spine on them is steel, but the blade is too tall and thin to cut a straight line. Usually straight lines are a breeze with pull saws, but this saw bows and will arc and jump a line every time. If it was half the height it would probably not be an issue. Originally i purchased the saw for starting nut and bridge slots and the kerf is good for starting fret slots, but flexes way way too much for fretwork.
As for the Harbor Freight saw, i dont trust anything that company sells outside its clamps, and air products. Ive had two stands of theirs fail on me. One a motor stand, the other was the pneaumatic motorcycle stand.
 

LtDave32

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HF does have a lot of crap. You have to pick and choose.

Their Black Widow spray gun however, is excellent.
 

LtDave32

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That Crown saw is what I use to deepen slots after radius sanding.

No bend, no flex, perfect kerf.
 

Marty M.

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The way I look at it, the fret slots and fretboard radius are the foundation of the guitar. I have the stewmac Japanese saw that comes with the slotting system. I also have the crown, and a few HF saws. Every HF saw I have purchased produces a kerf too wide. I don't think the fret saw is the place to go cheap. I'd go with a luthier supply saw or the Crown. I'd skip HF and Cigar box guitar websites too.
 

Robert Parker

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FWIW, and on a more reasonable note than my Bad Axe suggestion, I also used a Veritas fine-toothed dovetail saw (20 tpi) for fret slots on my last build. It is easily the most comfortable hand saw I've used.


I've also got the Crown fret saw (that is, I've got the one StewMac sells that is identical). While it cuts fine, the round handle is not really comfortable after 8-10 slots. I wanted to try the Veritas saw (I already had it, didn't buy it just for that reason) to see if it cut as well on crosscut. It did, though removing the set from the teeth might be useful if i make it a dedicated fret saw. So, I'm either going to either make a pistol grip handle for the Crown or hammer out the set of the teeth on the Veritas and drill holes for the depth stop.

Either way, my point is that those round-handled saws don't feel good to me, and they don't help you register the saw the same way each time. That's less of an issue when using a jig than when cutting free-hand, but still.... I think round handles work better on Japanese-style pull-cut saws than on Western push-cut saws, but I prefer the feel of a good pistol-grip handle above all.

I prefer doing as much work with hand tools as reasonable. Therefore, it's worth comfortable tools. Taking @Marty M.'s point about frets being the foundation of the instrument, I believe it's worth find a set up that is most comfortable, as comfort leads to repeatability and consistency.
 

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