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Fret Arbor Press System

4.0
  • 56 Reviews
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Fret Arbor Press System

Fret Arbor Press System

Item # 4481
In stock, ready to ship!

List Price $199.03
Your Price $183.11

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Fret Arbor Press only, with table

Fret Arbor Press only, with table

Item # 4480
In stock, ready to ship!

$116.43

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Fret Arbor Press System

About This Item

A fretting factory on your workbench! Our veteran fretting experts developed this unique system for speed and accuracy.

You won't find a more thoughtfully designed and efficient arbor-based system! It's far more versatile than generic tool catalog arbors. It can fret an entire unglued fingerboard, a bolt-on neck, and most of an attached neck, quickly and consistently.

Why press frets? Faster and more consistent than hammering (and a lot quieter!), arbor-press fretting is preferred by many guitarmakers. Pressed-in frets have fewer loose ends and more uniform heights, because there's none of the recoil produced by hammer blows.

    The complete system includes:
  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Self-leveling pressing caul
  • Five radiused/grooved brass inserts for the caul
  • Table with fence attachment
  • Hardwood neck support
  • Instructions

Designed and refined by StewMac fretting experts. Four interchangeable 2-1/2" grooved brass inserts match standard fretwire radii (7.25", 9.5", 12" and 16"), and a special 6"-radius insert holds down the fret ends when you're using glue. Additional insert radii are available separately. The arbor has an adjustable steel pinion for firm pressure.

Built-in lever return spring. The pressing caul won't fall down and dent your work—makes fretting much easier and less cumbersome. A StewMac exclusive, this is the first half-ton arbor press to feature this innovative spring recoil.

Pinion locking screw. Locks the caul down for clamping a glued-in fret (a handy feature suggested by luthier Bryan Galloup).

Versatile table attachment. The system now includes our 24-3/8" x 3" table attachment with fence, for fretting unglued fingerboards. Adjustment screws move and rotate the table forward and back, to center the fingerboard and precisely align the frets beneath the pressing caul. A thumbscrew locks the table to the arbor.

Faster fretting for production work. The table fence has a retractable indexing pin that works with the notches in our Dual Fret Scale Templates. Attach a slotted unglued fingerboard to a matching template with double-stick tape, and the pin aligns each fret directly beneath the pressing caul. A real time-saver!

Fret glued-on fingerboards, too. Simply remove the table and use the contoured 12" x 2-3/4" x 1" cork-lined hardwood neck support included with the system. (Tip: it's also a handy lower clamping caul for gluing a fingerboard on a neck.)

Already using our Fret Press Caul in your drill press? The Fret Arbor Press with Table is available separately—save money and upgrade your shop.


Video

Instructions

Product Instructions

Stewart-MacDonald Fret Arbor Press

Setup instructions and useful tips for getting the most out of our Fret Arbor Press System.

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4.0
  • 4.07 average rating from 56 reviews
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2.0

Might be a good tool...

By

Verified Buyer


I must say once I received the Fret Arbor Press System home I was very disappointed. The fret table is made of cheap plastic. The way it mounts to the Arbor press is hokey. Baling wire and bubble gum would have been better! I the product photo's the table looks to be made of aluminum. I feel SMD simply found a arbor press and mickey moused the table mounting. Nothing special.

5.0

Exactly what I needed

By

Verified Buyer


I borrowed an arbor press from a machinist buddy but he needed it back, so I bought the StewMac press. The StewMac blows the other away. There is a video online about adjusting it and that was very helpful. This press does not fall apart when you lift it off the bench (which most arbor presses do); and it does not dent the neck from the handle falling when you let go. I'm re-fretting all of my guitars with jumbo stainless frets and would not want to be without this press (20+ guitars). Thanks StewMac for the great design! I just completed my old Jazzmaster and am wondering why the heck didn't I do this 30 years ago.

5.0

Makes fretting easier

By

Verified Buyer


I have used fret pressing tools that does not do what this one does; handle not retracting, cannot be locked for gluing, things that make fretting more time consuming and frustrating. Thus is worth the price if you do more than one guitar.

4.0

Set up was easy

By

Verified Buyer


The press works good to properly set frets.

2.0

Build quality and QC problems!

By


First things first, now that I have corrected all the issues I found, this fret press works just fine. But there were some QC and build issues that were bad enough that I felt I needed to share the experience. Hopefully someone at Stew Mac will correct this.

When I first opened the box and lifted out the arbor, I heard a piece of metal fall off the arbor and into the box. It was a non-descript steel rectangle about 1/2" x 2". No mention of such a piece in the "user manual", which I have some comments on later. Turns out it was a bushing used to clamp the ram when locking the arbor in place... the front mounting plate bolts were all loose and it just fell out.

The "user manual" was a joke and had no real assembly instructions, and the ones it had were vague and the pictures were unclear. So there was a LOT of trial-and-error in assembly of both the arbor and the included table, including some modifications of parts that didn't fit together correctly.

The unit was painted in bright red paint globbed on so thick it looks like a kid did it with an oversized paint brush. The unit was then OBVIOUSLY assembled while the paint was still wet, evidenced by the globs of red paint inside the front cover, the incompletely ground inside cover and flat used to mount the table on, and the red paint scraped away from the arbor itself when the bolts were tightened down on to still-wet paint.

Yikes. And that isn't even the bad part. The first time I pulled the ram down it made a horrible grinding sound. Really?

When I removed the front cover to re-install the mystery plate that fell out earlier, the entire unit was full of grit! Casting sand, metal shavings and some kind of grease all up in there. I removed the aluminum return spring assembly, which was already chewed up with some of that grit. I removed the arbor's main gear, and it was a mess. A very rough casting with machining burrs all over it, and they chrome plated it like that! Then of course, it's teeth were full of the same grit present inside everything else.

So, I cleaned the arbor casting as much as I could, which included cleaning every single bolt hole (all full of grit) and every single bolt (all somewhat chewed up). That took a good hour. I filed off the burrs of the main gear, cleaned out the grit, took off all the sharp edges then cleaned it up with a wire wheel (another half hour). I cleaned the ram of grit, and wire-wheeled all the sharp edges and rust spots off (maybe 20 minutes?). After cleaning and wire-wheeling every metal piece of this thing, I lubricated and re-assembled it. After the better part of the day, I finally had the fret arbor I should have had in the first pace.

BTW, I looked around a little bit, and I found that this unit looks exactly like one sold by a discount tool supplier. No surprise. This has about the same level of quality I expect from something from them, which means they either sourced it from them or the same Chinese supplier. I expect a hella lot betrter from Stew Mac.

Listen, Stew Mac, you guys charge Cadillac prices, and I can usually count on your quality to be above average. This one was a big miss. Two stars is fairly generous, and I gave that to you only because it functions (now).

Response from StewMac


We're sorry to hear about the troubles you had with the Fret Arbor Press. Our guarantee is 100% satisfaction in every way. If an item doesn't meet your expectations, return it anytime for a refund or exchange. Our support team has decades of experience making customers happy.

5.0

Press is great

By

Verified Buyer


After setting up a station I used this press and insert on a Martin and it works very well.

2.0

Good concept

By

Verified Buyer


The concept for this tool is good, unfortunately execution and build quality is terrible. I would much rather pay more for a quality built tool than pay less for a poorly made one.
It does do what it was designed to but, it is a cheap chinese tool adapted to work on guitars.
Be prepared to spend at least an hour fixing the flaws to get it to work in a somewhat acceptable manner. I would personally not buy this again.

5.0

Fret press

By

Verified Buyer


Excellent addition to my shop

5.0

Really speeds up fret setting, without any compromise for accuracy.

By

Verified Buyer


I've been hammering frets for quite a while now. It works, but can be really time consuming. I favour using hide glue for my fretwork, which means working quickly, not always possible on some frets. That can be a pain when hammering, so I took a chance and bought the fret press. My biggest complaint is that I didn't get it sooner. Makes fret setting so much smoother and faster, without compromising accuracy. It also allows me to clamp for a few minutes between frets, to give the hide glue time to cool. Since it's a straight press, the fingerboard must be properly radiused so the fret seats properly, but once that's done you're good to go. I will say that the arbor press should be fastened to a base and clamped to your table, so it doesn't move. Great tool for the shop.

5.0

5star tool

By

Verified Buyer


A fully sorted work station for pressing frets like a pro.
Everything you need and need having done for the conversion of the arbor press.
Once again and excellent addition to my workshop thanks to StewMac

Showing 10 of 56 Read more reviews >>


StewMac PDF Catalog, page 9 See Fret Arbor Press System
on page 9 of our StewMac Digital Catalog