My guitar fretboard slotting jig is one of the most popular jigs that I teach in my book on acoustic guitar making. This is more of a fretboard duplicating jig, because it makes exact copies of any existing fretboard that you already have in the shop. I literally made this from scraps after getting the idea, and I have been using it for more than a decade.
Guitar Fretboard Duplicating Jig
Fret slots need to be accurate in order for the guitar to sound correct. A simple miter box without anything built in to ensure accuracy is not very user friendly.
The full instructions for this jig are in my book, but most people can make it from what you see here on the site and in the video that is coming up. It’s not an incredibly difficult jig to make, and the time you invest will be returned several times.
Fretboard Slotting Jig Video
This video is from my old Six Gun Guitar days. I’ve since merged all of my woodworking and guitar making content into one place, which is Westfarthing Woodworks. The video explains the jig, and again you should be able to put it together from what you see.
If you like this jig, my acoustic guitar making book has instructions for many more. It also simplifies a lot of the guitar making processes for beginners.
Fret Slotting Jig Secret
If you look closely at the picture you can see a small piece of metal sticking out from inside the bottom of the jig. That’s the indexing bar. It is directly below the slot on the miter box that the saw goes into.
The point of this bar is that it allows you to use an existing fretboard as a guide for slotting a blank fretboard. The bar is made from a razor blade, and fits perfectly into a standard fret slot. You can use anything you have that fits a fret slot on your jig.
Setting Up the Guitar Fretboard Slotting Jig
In order to use the jig, you need to tape a fretboard blank and a pre-slotted fretboard together. The slotted board goes on the bottom with the slots facing down. The blank goes on top with the side you want to slot facing up.
Square the ends near the first fret and the edges that are closest to your body while operating the jig.
The two boards need to be squared like this in order to be accurate. The slots on the existing fretboard are going to be transferred to the new blank exactly as they are. If the boards are misaligned, the duplication process will not go as well as it should.
As you slide the board in place, you will feel them fall as the indexing bar drops into the first fret slot.
At this point, you know that your saw will create a slot directly over the top of the existing slot on the new board. Carefully saw the first fret slot. I find that it is easiest to count the strokes and see how deep you are. If you need to saw a little more, slide the pieces back in and do so. Aim for about 1/2 way through the top board on all of your slots. Check the first few and you should be fine to just count strokes for the rest.
Fretboard Slotting Jig Wrap Up
In order to use a tool like this for many different guitars, all you need to do is buy a couple slotted (no radius) boards from a guitar making supplier, and just make copies of them.
This also expands your wood choice because you can take literally anything you find in the hardwood store and made a guitar fretboard. Most places are restricted down to Rosewood or Ebony, but with a slotting jig you can use more exotic woods. I really like using Padauk, and Goncalo Alves.
If you have any questions on My Guitar Fretboard Slotting Jig, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. If you really love the jig, then my 508 page monster of a guitar making book is perfect for you. It’s all about making tools, and simplifying processes in guitar making. Perfect for any beginner. Happy building.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
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