Make your own Guitar Fret Leveller for $10
Using a few bits from Bunnings and a file can make a good guitar fret leveller for under $10. Firstly take a trip to your local Bunnings or somewhere you can get your hands on Aluminium Extrusion. You’ll need square tubing with a lip down on side. These are sold to make windows and partitions. While your at your hardware store, grab 2 sheets of wet and dry sandpaper. Anywhere from 300 and 800 grit should be fine paper should be fine.
Making the Guitar Fret Leveller.
Take the piece of aluminium and lay it on the guitar fretboard. Check to see that the tubing is not longer than needed. You can check by making sure it covers every fret down the whole length of the neck. This way we can ‘level the whole neck‘ and not just a group. Some people sell the short 150mm (6″) blocks as perfect for a guitar fret leveller. But I prefer to cover all the frets at once. It does make it tedious when your trying to get the last couple of frets level. But I find it pays off when you string it up and start playing with a nice low action and no buzz.
Now take the aluminium extrusion and lay it on the fretboard and mark the lip where each fret is going to be. You can use anything to mark it or you can scratch it. Just make marks to show where each fret is. Accuracy is not that important as long as the leveller goes over the frets without touching them. All your trying to do is make openings in the aluminium lip so the majority of the lip can touch the fretboard and not touch the frets. Now take the file and file into the marks about 4mm deep. 4mm is plenty as the highest fret made is about 3mm high.
Once you have the openings for the frets made, it’s time to add the wet and dry sandpaper to the sides. Evenly spread adhesive to any side the the slotted lip is not on and apply the 360grit sandpaper to it. Now glue on the size 600 grit paper to the other side. Once it is dry, trim off any excess paper and your done.
Using the fret leveller
First thing to do is get the guitar neck flat. This is done by loosening the truss rod inside the guitar neck. Take it slow! Don’t tighten the neck, loosen the neck. You’ll know if the truss rod is tightening or not by the pressure needed to turn it. Now keep releasing the pressure on the truss rod until it is completely loose. Now check the straightness of the neck with the Fret Leveller you just made. Are there any gaps under the fret leveller while it is pressed against the fretboard? The whole idea is to get the neck flat so the frets can also be worked on while they are also flat.
Sometimes it’s a god idea to leave the neck overnight to let it settle into it’s new relaxed state and check it again in the morning. Removing all the pressure of the truss rod will hopefully get the neck back to it’s originally manufactured state of flatness. Keep tweaking and applying gentle pressure against the neck until it’s as flat as can be. You may never get it perfectly flat, and that doesn’t matter. You just want your neck to be as flat as it can be without taking out the frets and machining it flat. This is not what you want to do so flat enough is flat enough.
Now you can head over to the next stage, level your own frets and put your new guitar fret leveller to work.