Guitar fretboard cutting jig

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Project by stanley_clifton posted 05-03-2009 12:37 AM 10154 views 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been making an electric guitar and will be posting a link to photos of this project shortly, when it is finally complete.

During that process I knocked up a little cutting jig that was supposed to help me cut the fret slots square, which turned out to be completely inadequate resulting in mis cut frets out of square. So, I resolved to develop a better jig and that’s what your looking at here.Yes it’s crude but it’s not furniture and will live in the workshop, so I don’t really care what it looks like as long as it does the job.

I hope that its working concept is fairly self explanatory. One of the pics shows the relevant saw for reference. There is a rosewood fretboard blank clamped in for further reference. The number of these clamps may look over the top, but the intention of this is that the boad will be held by three clamps at all times as it is moved past the cutting slot. The two clamps close to the cutting slot are rather too close for comfort, but I want the piece clamped very securely either side of the cut and this arrangement will do this.

Materials are 19mm ply with bracing and fences of ash, beech and a little bit of reclaimed mahogany. The plywood has been stood around for a while and has warped slightly; this is the reason for the over-the-top bracing on the rear side. I think that the warp is coming out: I will be clamping this to the workbench with care, but in practise I don’t think that it’s a problem.

Now for some more guitar projects. I am intending to make a tele pattern with humbucker pick ups and the, hopefully feeling that I’m starting to get the hang of this, and then a Les Paul junior inspired guitar for myself. Having bought a lot of specialist tools I am not giving up guitar making now, in fact it’s starting to feel a bit like the Hotel California. Anyway this jig should make getting the crucial fret slots right a lot easier.

-- Stanley generally struggling

5 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118321 posts in 5039 days

#1 posted 05-03-2009 12:43 AM

Hey Stanley
Looks like a winning jig good job


View Junji's profile


698 posts in 4844 days

#2 posted 05-03-2009 01:22 AM

Looking forward to seeing your guitars too.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View propcarver's profile


33 posts in 5292 days

#3 posted 05-03-2009 01:43 PM

Hi Stanley,

Very Nice Jig ….

My son asked me to build him a Tele using an old neck he had. Had so much fun I decided to build one for me. Problem is I don’t have an old neck laying about. Looks like your jig would be a great help in cutting the fret slots.

Do you have any other jigs for cutting the slot for the truss rods?

Thanks again.

View stanley_clifton's profile


196 posts in 5165 days

#4 posted 05-03-2009 11:21 PM

Hi propcarver

Thanks to using the box type truss rod, the rod’s channel does not have to be curved. This allows the router plane to be used to cut the channel. Please find a link to my Flickr set showing wip on the guitar, which shows the plane half way through this job. The plan I have involves dropping the rod in from the top and then sealing it in with a separate fretboard; as you know, the Fender knecks do have the rods put in from the back, giving the characteristic stripe – my next guitar will use this technique (see Melvyn Hiscock’s book).

I will be making a jig to drill headstocks for the emerging truss rod; as you know, the Gibson rods are in the other way round and I want to make this pattern at some point – if only as I’ve already bought pick ups.

Sorry to say that your link does not seem to have worked on the e-mail and appears to have been edited off the Lumberjocks page. I hope that this is not a new policy as I have posted links to Flickr before, which people seem to have enjoyed.

All the best with your project.

Thanks to the other two friends who have complimented on this project.

-- Stanley generally struggling

View Tim Pletcher's profile

Tim Pletcher

90 posts in 4536 days

#5 posted 01-10-2010 06:01 AM

very cool! Way into these types of projects, great work!


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