Jaws3 solves the problem of installing frets in the hard-to-clamp area over the neck heel. Developed by our own Al Rorick, this ingenious fret press clamps onto the fingerboard and uses the same radiused brass inserts as our other Jaws tools. Fret seating takes place at the end of the tool, letting you reach those "impossible" frets. Three thumbscrews seat the fret perfectly, and the rigid extruded aluminum body ensures stability.
Two padded wooden cauls are supplied:
The neck caul is curved to cradle the back of the neck, and the angled body caul accommodates the angle of acoustic guitar backs.
These cauls protect the guitar's finish from the metal clamp. When an unusual situation does not fit these cauls, make a suitable caul from scrap wood and pad its surface (#2017 Protective Felt or thick white posterboard makes a good pad for protecting a finish).
Jaws3 uses our radiused fret press inserts to match the curve of your fingerboard. These inserts fit all our fret presses, and additional radii are available.
Match the fretwire to the slot
It's not a good idea to "power-in" the frets. If the fretwire's tang is too wide for the slot, pressing the frets will require excess force, and that's likely to tip the fret over and mar the fingerboard. The pressure created by oversize fret tangs can also cause the neck to have an excessive backbow. If your fretwire is too wide, you can widen the slot slightly or alter the fret tang to make it narrower. Two tools for this purpose are the Fret Barber and Fret Fitter (items #4363 and #4898 in our catalog).
Prepare the slot
Use a small fine-cut file to slightly bevel the top edges of the fret slots. This helps to guide the fret tang into the slots. Be sure that the slots are clear of any debris, and are deep enough to accept the fret tang. Our Refret Saw Set is ideal for slot cleaning (#3611).
Choose a radiused insert
Select a brass insert to match the fingerboard radius you're working on, and insert it below the support bar in Jaws3. The support bar is a length of 1/8" brass that must be in place above the radiused insert; it distributes the pressing force and protects the insert.
Start the fretwire
Start the ends of the fretwire into the slot first, using hand pressure or a slight tap with a fretting hammer. Be sure that the fret sits perpendicular to the fingerboard, not tipped at an angle.
Position Jaws3 over the fretwire
Loosen the pressure screws until Jaws3 sits flat on the neck and is centered on the fingerboard. Make sure the brass radiused insert is positioned directly over the fret.
Clamp Jaws3 to the neck, positioning the clamp as close to the working end as you can. Use a wooden caul to protect the guitar, and clamp firmly in place. Double-check your alignment over the fret, making sure Jaws3 didn't move while you were clamping.
Press the fret into place
Tighten the pressure screws in small increments, beginning with the fret ends. Watch your work from the side, looking at the fret end — this is the best way to see that the fret is not tipped at an angle. Apply pressure to each end, then to the center, following this pattern until the fret is seated. Don't use excessive force; you want the crown of the fret to sit on the fingerboard, but not press into it.
Fretting over the body
The portion of a fingerboard extending over an acoustic guitar body requires very gentle fretting pressure. For these frets, we recommend slimming the tang of the fretwire so it seats more easily in the slot. This can be done by filing down the fretwire's barbs using our unique Fret Barber tool (#4363). This also prevents oversize fret tangs from expanding the fingerboard, which can result in downward pressure on the guitar top.