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Diamond Fret Crowning File

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  • Diamond Fret Crowning File

    I purchased one of these small Diamond fret files the other day. Thought it might be a useful tool for the cost.

    I have about four other steel files of various types I use but non are the diamond type.

    My thoughts on this one is the file does ride on the fretboard and rides in from the sides to round the fret, much like a half round file does.
    This allows you to crown after leveling and not lower the frets you just leveled like a full crowning file does.
    I have a few necks that may benefit by this. Usually I level, crown, rocker, and then have to take down the frets that are
    too high after crowning and use the crowning file to take them down even more. Allot of it does require guesswork and constant checking
    working this method.

    Over polishing can take a fret down more then you want too. I usually use ultra fine Emory paper over the crowning file and it does a good job
    removing any scratches and left over file marks and gives them a decent gloss. I may use a soap stove afterwards to do a final
    evening up on them. It flattens them a tad but it does get rid of any height inconsistencies.

    Soap stones are used to put an edge on the old fashioned razor blades or knives. Its a stone with a super fine grain and is rather soft.
    I usually run it over the frets from side to side working down one fret at a time. It gives the strings a glassy smoothness bending strings which
    is something I prefer.

    I'm hoping since this little file rides on the fretboard it will contour the frets to the neck radius better than a normal file does.
    A Half round works too but its a difficult tool to master.

  • #2
    Put Masking tape the fingerboard area between the frets and on the guitar body where the neck meets the body. This will help keep marring down to a minimal.
    Best regards,


    • #3
      Well I got the file and gave it a shot. It works like a half round file does taking material off from the sides.
      Its bottom is flat and wont mar the fret board but it is made of aluminum and can leave marks on a fret board like a pencil.
      I've used my own fingerboard protectors I made decades ago and only need to tape off a fret board when I'm leveling or installing frets.

      The small file is a bit tricky to use. There's not allot to hold on to and it can be flipped over a fret easily and is tough to keep parallel
      to the fret, especially at the ends. What I plan on doing is to add a handle that will act as a guide. I have some brass corner moldings
      That I can cut down to a few inches long. I'll then epoxy it to the top corners of the block. I don't need them as handles because the
      pressure will be on the block itself, But they will extend out and act as a guide to help keep the file parallel to the frets by eye and feel.

      I've used this file on two guitars so far. One with very tall super jumbo and one on worn Gibson frets.

      The Super Jumbo actually came out pretty good. I was able to get sharper peaks then using a normal crown or half round file.
      The Gibson frets were pretty worn and this file was useless on them.

      I'd say for someone who wants to do a little touch up work after refretting, or someone doing their first or second leveling this file may be OK.
      It does require quite a bit of hands on skill to use and a normal crowning file is superior as far as quality and ease of use.
      You can work it in from the sides after a fret leveling and not take down the tops which is what its designed for, but the sides will be flat and not rouneded
      so more material than needed may be removed.


      • #4
        diamond is a necessity for stainless frets.


        • #5
          ^^ True and they don't last too long cutting stainless either.
          I definitely wouldn't use one of these small ones.


          • #6
            If your diamond files are wearing out you've got some defective files. They're so much harder than steel and not so brittle as to break off like aluminum oxide particles in sandpaper do as they wear down. If the diamonds are actually coming off the steel of the file when you're using them then the electroplating that bonded them to it was done wrong. I've done six full SS installs with levels and dresses and a few NS levels and dress with the same diamond stone and files and they still cut just fine.
            Stupednous is the disease. And I'm the solution.


            • #7
              ^^^ That was the point of the thread if you read it. These little files look like they have the diamond grit glued on. On top of that, the file rests on the fretboard, and if you're using them on the same spot over and over causing it to wear through at an accelerated rate while the rest of the area is untouched.

              With a regular file, you'd use the entire surface area because its curved. These guys aren't even half round, they are more like a 3 corner file flattening a curved side of the frets so the maximum wear is always going to be in the same spot.
              Last edited by WRGKMC; 06-09-2014, 08:10 AM.


              • #8
                My luthier has talked about diamond files with me before... Seems there are a couple inferior products out there and yep, the diamonds don't wear out but the bonding material degrades... Usually from excessive heat though and I can't imagine hand filing producing that kind of heat... I use fully sintered diamond burrs and bits to do detail in granites and other stone and for such work, flowing water is key to tools longevity... I could ask about the brand my luthier is using if you'd like?
                my p0asting days were numb bird... now im done... bye.


                • #9
                  ^^^ No, I have plenty of good fret files including a diamond one I got from Stu Mac. I just bought that little one because it was so cheap and thought it might be cool to have. Pretty much wasted my money on it because it lost its diamonds and went straight down to the aluminum backing after the first job.

                  I kind of likes the idea where You could level the frets then crown them from the sides and create a pyramid effect instead of using a crowning file that caps them. You can get uneven frets when you remove the flat spots the leveling produces if you aren't super careful. The deal with this thing its a flat surface at about a 90 degree angle. It had a very sparse layer of diamond bits to begin with so I wasn't impressed before I used it but with allot of elbow grease I at least eaked out a few on normal super jumbo frets before it was toast. I cant see this file being used on stainless because it couldn't hold up to normal frets.

                  Oh, and yes frets and files can get hot from the friction. Not enough to damage anything but friction is friction. Steel files don't heat up but this little aluminum one probably did enough to loosen the glue.


                  • #10

                    Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
                    ^^^ That was the point of the thread if you read it.
                    I apologize if I misunderstood, but I was responding to this line of discussion:

                    Originally posted by w-w-wertard View Post
                    diamond is a necessity for stainless frets.
                    Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
                    ^^ True and they don't last too long cutting stainless either.
                    I definitely wouldn't use one of these small ones.
                    Which seemed to me to indicate that you were saying that diamond tools don't last long cutting stainless frets, so I was pointing out that in fact they do. Unless your tools are not properly electroplated and the diamonds are coming off due to friction or heat, the diamonds should cut right through the steel until the cows come home and my tools have done just that. Of course everything wears out eventually and proper lubrication is necessary, but on the microscopic level diamond cuts through steel like cheese and doesn't break off and properly done electroplating holds them in there good and tight, so if the file loses it's cut after one level it's a bad file, not a statement on the usefulness of diamond files on stainless frets in general.

                    That's what I'm saying here, that's all.
                    Stupednous is the disease. And I'm the solution.


                    • #11
                      ^^^ Understood. The diamonds don't wear out. They may chip off or get dislodged from the electroplating. In my case as I said this particular file is made of aluminum which I think is a poor metal for any kind of file. Aluminum heats up rapidly, much too rapidly which its it's first fault. Second It oxidizes and does leaves marks on a surface like pencil lead. Not real bad, but enough to be a poor choice. Third, this particular file sees all its friction in one single spot the width of a piece of paper where the filing begins on the side of a fret. Once it cuts through that spot, it stops cutting and the rest of the diamond surface is completely useless. You have to get beyond the initial contact point and begin to flatten the side of the frets the rest of the file surface isn't used until you get to that point. With a half round file, more of that surface is used so there's less wear on the file in one spot.

                      As far as a normal diamond crowning file cutting stainless, I've done four stainless refrets and a number of recrownings with it. The file still cuts fine but maybe not as coarsely as it did when I first got it so some of the surface has been lost. Its likely the diamonds that weren't securely held in place to begin with.

                      I can see the remaining surface being OK for a good long time at this point. Most of the work I do is with normal frets which is relatively soft in comparison. I can see by its initial wear/loss of surface might be an issue if I was refretting full time like I used to. I do take the word of other Luthiers and manufacturers who report their diamond files do eventually wear through to the point where they need replacement. Yes the electroplating wears through and heat and friction do their damage. Its part of the trade though. You reinvest some of your profit you make doing refrets into buying new tools when they show signs of wear so you can do quality work and maintain your reputation and prices you charge.


                      • #12
                        I agree, that particular file doesn't seem like a very good design for a number of reasons. In addition to all the points you made, it's design is self defeating in one key respect: like you said, it cuts in one spot and wears down quickly there, but the cutting surface is flat so it basically sands the side of the fret down to create a beveled surface rather than a rounded one. This is fine if that's what you want to do as a luthier, albeit an unusual choice as it removes so much material, but the shape of the file locks you into that choice since it rests on the fretboard the way it does.

                        The whole point of using special rounded files on frets is to use the shape of that cutting surface to help shape the frets. And the whole point of using flat surface files on frets is to give a skilled user the ability to carefully shape the fret how he wishes, since the flat surface guarantees a smaller point of contact and he can come at it from any angle he wishes. But that file seems to eliminate the advantages and impose the limitations of both types at the same time. Don't think it'll be winning any design awards anytime soon.
                        Stupednous is the disease. And I'm the solution.


                        • #13
                          I was hoping I might be able to get triangular frets like Luthier I knew in NJ Phil Petillo who did the frets for hundreds of famous guitarists. I had one of his refreted guitars many years ago and it played like glass because of the minimal friction. He cut his frets triangular as you can see here. I suppose I'll just have to try it with a Triangular file.