Any Thoughts On a Good Crowning File, Aside From A Three Sided File?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by tmonkjr, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

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    Twice. Wrong. I suspect ultracrepidarianism.

    Most crowning files are as good as trash in my book. With most of them, either you abandon quality work altogether, or you take waaaaay too long to finish a proper job.

    Premium triangular files in the good hands with the proper savoir-faire do a hell of a good job, but it took way too much time to my taste.

    I've tried everything on earth and settled on the original Z-file from Stewmac. Not to say that it's the best, just that it suits my hands, moves and logic better than anything else (as of now) and that it improved my work dramatically once I got the hang of it (which is not as obvious as generally considered, actually).
     
  2. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

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    Are we the same person? Lol :thumb:

    I just use 600 grit for leveling instead of 320 most of the time, unless there is a lot to take off.
    600 at the leveling stage makes the polishing stage faster and easier (to me -to each his own :))
     
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  3. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-Talker

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    You can’t get the file marks out of the fret as easy with 600, I start with 320 to remove all the file mark quickly, then move to 600 and finer once the file marks are removed from the fret.
     
  4. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Well, thanks for the new word, but I was referring to files in general, and there intrinsic quality.

    I was not recommending any particular style of file, or esoteric design for specific jobs. I was only referring to the fact that quality files, made with quality materials, do not cost $100 each. Far less than that in fact.

    Also for your info, I do not own any crowning files. I use triangular, flat, and round, single cut files.

    So thank you for trying to establish your superiority, but go peddle it elsewhere.
     
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  5. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-Talker

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    I believe that It’s next to impossible to properly level and crown frets without a good crowning file. Every fret job I’ve seen where one wasn’t used has frets that have flat tops on them, or corners that catch your fingers.
     
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  6. Randy Dotterer

    Randy Dotterer New Member!

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  7. Randy Dotterer

    Randy Dotterer New Member!

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    That's the most valuable tool I've ever purchased in my guitar building I also bought another file from Stew mac that I use to round the frets And of course the nut files so I got probably 300 bucks in files And I bought them when they were cheap a few years back Their double sided I used one side for bone nuts the other side for brassI never had to replace them and had them about 8 years about 138 guitars built and going strong
     
  8. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    Been using a triangle file for well over two decades now - smoothed the edges myself from a Craftsman I bought at Sears. Many others have already mentioned some resally good files, I just prefer my tried and true. I find I get a finer crown with the triangle. :thumb:

    Good luck!
     
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  9. tmonkjr

    tmonkjr Strat-Talk Member

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    Are you talking about their Double sided file? Ive been looking at that, and
    Thanks, I have some severe Cervical problems, even though the file does the work, and not much pressure is used, I felt it the next day, big time. I'm done with this now, Im just going to get a double sided File from StewMac the the majority of the work, and a Diamond grit file, to clean it up a bit.
    Thanks for your support.
     
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  10. jdyanine

    jdyanine Strat-Talk Member

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    I didn't think you could have one fret file for working on all fret sizes, except for a 3 corner or a flat file.

    Is the Z-File able to do that?

    I have a regular 3 corner file and a small flat file from Crimson. Using the 3 corner file needs a lot of practice, time and patience for achieving a good quality work.
    The Crimson flat file was supposed to be for fret ends, but it's too big and aggresive for that (it's no longer in production).


    From Stewmac I have two Dual-grit diamond fret files and a fret end dressing file.

    The Dual-grit "wide" size is for super jumbo or bass frets, the "medium" is for most modern fret sizes and the "narrow" for vintage frets or smaller instruments.
    They are too expensive and fragile. I clean them with a brass brush and lube them with Cut Lube, fret by fret, but even then they tend to suffer. I've done something like 10 nickel fretboards with them and the wear on the diamonds is evident.

    Another drawback is that you have little control on how it works and they need the frets to have a certain shape. For example, if I start crowning the frets with the 3 corner file and then I switch to the dual-grit, I will easily catch the top of the frets, ruining the leveling. But they have some big advantages; they are very good for restoring the shape of a totally flat fret, they are very fast, easy and safe to use and great for crowning upper frets on a set-neck, even when there isn't much space for working (because of the Gurian shape). And they crown the frets nice, there is no need to shape them later with sandpaper... but you do have polish them with a lot of different sandpapers.

    I've fallen in love with the fret end dressing file. It's very tiny, soft and leightweight, and that makes it harder to mess it up.
    I like a lot how my strat neck ended up (see maple neck picture). I rolled off the edges with a knife and that maked more room for rounding the fret ends.
    That time I was affraid of ruining the leveling, so I didn't use the sandpaper correctly, but later I realized I had the best results using this method:

    - 320 grit sandpaper on leveling beam
    - dual-grit diamond file (300 grit)
    - wet/dry sandpaper; 400, 600 and 800 grit
    - 0000 steel wool
    - Autosol metal polish

    It took long, but was worth it (see picture of ukulele). The frets shine like mirror, it's hard to ruin the leveling if you do it gently, there is no heat so you don't mess up with the glue under the frets and you don't need stuff like fancy fret erasers. What I didn't know at first is that I needed to sand gently for removing the scratches only, without pushing my thumb.

    If I use a 3 corner file for crowning the frets, I need to continue the process sanding the crowned edges of the frets with 240 or 320 grit, pushing my thumb hard, because I'm not able to make a nice crown using the 3 corner file only.
     

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  11. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    Always!!!!:thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb:
    You got this!
     
  12. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I just use the files I bought for work in the 70s.
     
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  13. tmonkjr

    tmonkjr Strat-Talk Member

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    Im in total agreement with you, I first bought StewMacs triangular file, and for certain things its okay, however, I just bought the Original Z File as well, and although there certainly is a learning curve regardless of the file, its far and beyond anything I have yet to use.