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StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box

4.5
  • 63 Reviews
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StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box

StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box

Item # 2230
Due 1-3 days
Email when in stock

$174.95

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StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box with Fret Saw

StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box with Fret Saw

Item # 2231
Due 1-3 days
Email when in stock

List Price $206.13
Your Price $195.82

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StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box with Japanese Fret Saw

StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box with Japanese Fret Saw

Item # 2232
Due 1-3 days
Email when in stock

List Price $216.34
Your Price $205.52

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StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box

About This Item

The simplest way to cut perfect fret slots.

A StewMac original, better than ever
The guitarmakers in our shop designed this miter box. Through years of constant use and clever improvements, they've created the single best tool for hand-cutting fret slots.

Cuts smooth as glass
Your favorite fret saw will glide through the ball-bearing rollers with no jamming or chattering. You've never felt a miter saw move this freely without looseness. The bearings hold the blade perpendicular to the fretboard at a perfect right angle.

Clear view of the action
Our uncluttered design lets you see and feel the slot being cut. Set the slot depth to suit your fretwire, and the saw stops cutting when you reach that point. Easy!

Work fast with templates
Our Fret Scale Templates are made for our miter box: their notches click onto the box's index pin so you can slot an entire board quickly. No measuring! Of course, you can use the miter box without templates too.

Helping-hand thumbwheels hold the fretboard, leaving your hands free for sawing.

"You won't believe how smoothly our improved fret slotting system works!"
—Don MacRostie, StewMac R&D

The Fret Slotting Miter Box accommodates fingerboards up to 1/2" (12.70mm) thick and 2-7/8" (73mm) wide. The box is rugged aluminum, 12" (305mm) long. Hex wrenches are included for setting the rollers to fit your saw blade.

Save by ordering a miter box and fret saw together!
Works equally well with our Fret Slotting Saw or Japanese Fret Saw.


Used with the Fret Slotting Miter Box

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Video

Instructions

Product Instructions

Fret Slotting Miter Box Instructions

Easily cut accurate fret slots with the Miter Box and Fret Saw.

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4.5
  • 4.65 average rating from 63 reviews
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5.0

A Unique and Competent Tool

By
(Customer's Reviews)


After a disappointing start by receiving a damaged and incomplete tool, the replacement was wonderful. I typically try to make my own tools and jigs when possible. This is one of those tools that would be hard to make on my own, and I am very pleased at the choice to buy it. Test cuts have proven accurate and easy.

5.0

Great tool

By
(Customer's Reviews)


Hi, Tom from Germany calling.
Super tppl, great quality, extrem massive and stiff, works well.
Thank you

5.0

fret slotting miter box

By
(Customer's Reviews)


The first day I cut 2 fretboards and it went perfectly.

Dave

5.0

Great quality

By
(Customer's Reviews)


I own the early version of this slotting tool and the fit and finish is great. Years later I contacted Stew Mac requesting to purchase a replacement set of brass guides and they sent them right out to. Just fantastic customer service.

5.0

Why Did I Wait So Long?

By
(Customer's Reviews)


I have been doing the repair/lutherie thing full time since 1981. In that time, I have made many fretboards for restoration work and new builds. I have tried different saws, re-setting the teeth on saws, using paraffin wax as a lubricant, you name it... I recently purchased this tool with the Japanese pull saw and cut and slotted a custom scale Brazilian rosewood fretboard with it. Amazing! It was too fast and way too easy! This tool is well thought out and simple to use. I laughed out loud as I made the final cut. The adjustable bearing brackets were a bit fiddly at first, but I quickly came up with a way to set them all the same with my dial caliper.
Way to go guys! Truly a must-have tool!

4.0

Good but not perfect

By
(Customer's Reviews)


When you get it setup right It's quick and accurate.

There is a fair amount of wiggle room in all of the adjustable components on this box. Once the screws are tightened down it's rock solid, but when they are loose you can move the adjustable pieces in and out of square. It took about 45 minutes of micro-adjusting, making test cuts, and measuring with a square before I had it dialed in as perfect as i expected it to be. Because of the somewhat loose machining, the assembly that holds the bearings has 3 key things it adjusts: depth of cut, squareness to the board, and how tight the blade is held in place. Adjusting for one impacts the other... so it's a bit of an art teasing this thing square. I'm considering just using it to score my boards and then going back in with a block and saw to cut to depth.

5.0

Cuts straight and square slots smoothly after setting up

By
(Customer's Reviews)


This product may have been already set up properly for all I know. I am a new, self-taught, ambitious weekend woodworker striving to earn my luthier wings. Previously, I have only purchased pre-slotted fretboards, but I wanted to be able to create my own slotted boards. The unit arrived well packed, but after looking at the index pin, i noticed it was bent. I contacted StewMac Customer Service and they sent me a new one with the ability to send the defective unit back pre-paid. I successfully slotted my first 25.5" Strat style fretboard and the slots were even and square. Since I am a newbie, it was a bit of a struggle for me to get everything leveled out. I would like to see a more extensive video on tips for using this jig, but I am very satisfied. I used the StewMac template and the Japanese fret saw. I'm glad they make this jig. Someday, I'll be good at this and much faster than I am now. Please excuse the mess on my bench from this quick pick I took with my phone when I had just finished cutting most of the slots.

5.0

A must-have for any luthier!

By
(Customer's Reviews)


I recently bought this fabulous item after looking at other models by other vendors and after reading all the reviews. First, I want to say that no shop tool is perfect and second, I want to say that no tool will work properly unless you understand it and use it properly (which includes setting it up properly). That being said, I submit the following review with guidance on what I did to set up my fret slotting miter box to assist others in having great success and ease in cutting their fretboards. Please note that I purchased the miter box with the Japanese fret cutting saw, but I can't imagine that setting up this machine would differ greatly with any other fret saw.

MY REVIEW

As others have stated, this miter box is very sturdy. It is solid aluminum throughout. The vertical walls are thick enough to stand up over time, and the base is thick enough to stand up to any type of abuse you can dish out. This miter box should last you many years with proper care. I've looked at other miter boxes that were made of plastic or polycarbonate and the templates themselves were plastic. StewMac's templates are steel. The combination of these two items set themselves up as the clear leader for luthiers who want quality tools in their shop!

The true beauty of this miter box has to do with its adjustability. This miter box has easy adjustments for blade depth (requires loosening 8 small hex screws, and turning a height adjustment knob). Some have complained about the additional work required for such adjustments, but I think that once one has the proper depth set, there is no need to make further adjustments during the job. However, the Miter box can also be adjusted so that the blade will be perfectly square with your cutting project. There is not a lot of room for these adjustments, but enough to get your miter box cutting square.

The roller guides on this miter box greatly assist you in making easy cuts on your fretboards. They always keep your blade aligned and won't bind your saw blade (if you have it adjusted properly). The depth guides also help you make the perfect cut every time. You know exactly when you have gone far enough and won't accidentally make a cut that is too deep.

The alignment pin is a great way to make the perfectly scaled fretboard. StewMac has many scales to choose from, but I wish they had many more. I can see these tools being useful for any fretted instrument maker, so PLEASE, StewMac, make more scales available!

This miter box is easy to use and makes perfect cuts every time. If you cut fretboards, this is the tool you want in your shop!


SETTING UP YOUR MITER BOX

STEP 1. Take a look at your miter box and get to know it personally. Take a close look at all the nuts and bolts and understand what they do and how to make adjustments. This may take some time, but it is worth being familiar with your tool.

STEP 2. Mount your miter box. I used a 6" x 14" piece of 3/4" red oak stock. I centered the miter box length-wise, but mounted the box on the back side of the board (NOTE: the "front" of the miter box will be considered the side that has the StewMac logo on it). I drilled three holes corresponding to the three holes in the miter box, drilled oversized mounting holes on the underside of the board and used three stainless steel 10-24, flat-head Philips bolts with a washer and nut. Perhaps this is overkill for a mounting system, but I know that it will be sturdy and last a while, and this allows me to quickly affix my miter box to a work bench using only quick release clamps.

STEP 3. Scribe a center line on both sides of your fret cutting template. This allows you to use any size/shape of fretboard stock, regardless of jagged edges, and your fret slots will always be perpendicular to the center line. Let's be honest, if you do find that perfect piece of ebony for your fretboard, chances are that it may not have perfectly square edges OR you may want to align the center line of your fretboard with the grain of the wood, rather than the edge of the wood. Using a centerline method will overcome all of those obstacles. Measure twice or thrice and then scribe this line using an accurate straight edge.

STEP 4. Scribe 0 fret and 24th fret marks on your template. Before you do this, determine how you are going to saw your fret slots using your template. I actually prefer to use my template upside down, so that the nut is to my left as I work and the 24th fret is to my right. How you do it is immaterial, but make a decision and stick to it. Then, place the template in the miter box and lock the pin into the 0 fret position (the nut). Make note of where the saw will be cutting with reference to the 0 fret by scribing a small mark on the template just under the guide rollers. Do the same thing for the 24th fret. Using a square, scribe these marks across the template perpendicular to the center line. You may want to also scribe a line approximately 1/4" beyond the mark for the 24th fret. These scribe marks are the boundaries for your fret board. If the fret board fits beyond these marks, you can fit all your fret slots (with room beyond the 24th fret).

STEP 5. Get a piece of waste stock, that has two, true parallel sides. I used a piece of 1/4" oak, 2 1/2" wide and about 6" long (in this case, wider is better, as you are going to be measuring the squareness of your cuts). Draw a center line on this piece of stock. Extend that center line on the ends of the board. Using the StewMac double-sided tape, cut two THIN STRIPS of tape about 1/8" wide and affix along the outboard edge of this piece of stock, along the length of the edges. When you use this tape, you will find that you really don't need much. CAREFULLY, center this piece of stock on your template toward the higher frets (perhaps covering frets 14-24). You just want to be able to make as many cuts as possible on this one piece of stock, as you will use the results to adjust your miter box. Once centered, press the stock firmly into place.

STEP 6. Adjust the front, left guide rollers so they are perfectly vertical, with respect to the miter box platform. This may take some creativity, such as removing the three remaining sides of the miter box and using a square and large flat piece of stock. Whatever you do, you want to adjust the front left guide rollers so they are perfectly square. These will be your reference rollers and you will make all other adjustments based off this adjustment. This may require multiple adjustments as you make certain height adjustments later. But you should be able to get pretty close and remember how things were when you get there. At this point, you should also be using your fret saw to give you a "good idea" for where the height of the roller guides should be. I recommend that you try to create your fretboards as identically as possible. This may not always work if you have a customer who wants a thicker or thinner board. But, this will always be a good place to start.

STEP 7. Adjust all roller guides to YOUR saw. If you have removed any of the sides of the miter box or loosened things up, place your saw in the miter box and adjust all the roller guides to approximately the same height (eyeballing should get you pretty close). You also may need to adjust some of the walls of the miter box so that the roller guides come in contact with your saw. ADVICE: DO NOT tighten the roller guides directly against your saw. This will cause your saw to bind. Instead, loosen the right walls of your miter box, slide a piece of paper between the saw and the roller guides, then tighten the right side roller guides against the sheet of paper. Once everything is tight, remove the paper. This might be a two-person job.

STEP 8. Inspect your initial layout. First, check to make sure that your saw a) slides easily in the rollers and that all four rollers are touching the top rail of your saw and suspending it evenly, b) there is no twisting, warping, bending or binding of the saw as you roll it back and forth and c) there is not a lot of side-to-side play in the saw blade. There might be a little play (because of the width of the piece of paper, but it shouldn't be flopping and wobbling back and forth. You should feel no resistance whatsoever at this point. If you feel anything, try to figure out where the pressure point is and fix it to the best of your ability. Once this is perfectly smooth and everything "seems" set, remove the saw and move to the next step.

STEP 9. Place your template (with the sample stock attached) into the miter box. Figure out HOW you want to cut your board. The template, when aligned with the pin WILL have just a little bit of play in it. It may shift and wiggle a slight bit. So, figure out how you want to ALWAYS cut your slots. You may choose to hold the template against the front left wall of the miter box or along the back right wall. It doesn't matter--just be consistent with every cut. Once you have the template aligned and placed exactly how you want it, insert and tighten the hold-down clamps.

STEP 10. Make a sample fret cut. Using light, short, quick strokes, cut with your saw until you feel no wood-cutting resistance at all and the saw is resting along the tops of the guide rollers. If your saw is binding, there is probably an alignment issue. You should be applying very little pressure, but allowing the saw to cut and not your strength. Loosen and remove the hold-down screws, remove your template and examine the cut. Using a square, make sure the cut is perfectly square with the edge of the sample stock you are using (remember, you are using a piece of stock that is already square, and you have made a centerline, and aligned it with the center line on your template, so this will indicate a square cut. Also, examine the depth of the cut. Is it even depth on both sides? Based on the thickness of the fretboard you will be using, is it a good depth for your frets? If anything seems a little out of whack, make adjustments. Start with the height adjustment. Make sure your saw is cutting to the right depth, is parallel to the template and that all four guide rollers are making even contact with the rail of your saw. To square your saw, loosen the frame screws (one wall at a time) and make those very minor adjustments necessary to square the saw. Remember to insert the sheet of paper between the saw and the guide rollers. Re-insert your template, align it to the next successive fret, align it to your designated wall and clamp it down again. Repeat this process until your cut is perfectly square and perfectly parallel and to the exact depth you desire.

Once these adjustments are made, all you need to do is put a center line on your fretboard, affix it to the template and saw your fret slots. Your fret slots will be perfectly square (perpendicular to the center line) every time. They will also be at the proper depth.

I will concede to you that this process will take some time and it will take some patience and a very steady hand. I don't blame StewMac for not having these adjustments made beforehand, as every saw, every fretboard and every luthier is different. However, the flexibility for making these adjustments is built into this miter box. This small amount of extra effort on your part is worth the final result that you will produce once you get this machine set up.

When cutting fret slots, remember to use light and quick strokes. The StewMac Japanese fret saw is a wonderful tool for this process as it is razor sharp and requires very little effort to cut. Just be patient and steady and don't rush. Even so, this "slow" process only took me about 30 minutes to cut each of these fretboards (see pic). Please note: I had the inlay done after the fret slots were cut.

If you are a detail-oriented luthier, like most of us are, you will love this fret slotting miter box. It may be slower than using a table saw with a fret blade, but the results are always beautiful. I can't recommend this tool highly enough for any luthier!

4.0

Working fine when sawing a thin fretboard, but....

By
(Customer's Reviews)


This item is useful and of desent quality. The problem occurs when you try to saw frets on a one piece neck. A few easy modifications would have done the tool excellent. One extra hole in each side plate and one extra slot in each sideplate and the tool is absolutely fantastic. The modifications can be done with a file and a drill, but it will be more accurate if you have a milling machine.

5.0

Overall, a great product.

By
(Customer's Reviews)


This is a really sweet tool that gave me the accuracy I needed to build my first neck. The only complaint I have is that it came set up off square. It was pretty bad, almost 1/32'' off in 3 inches. Luckily I checked my first cut with a slide square and had enough of extra fretboard to try again. I think if you pay 200 bucks for a tool, it should come ready to go. Took me an hour of adjusting to get it where it needed to be. Also, buy the Japanese fret saw with this.

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