DIY Fret Bender

Written by noah sharp
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The raised frets on a guitar are small pieces of rigid metal wire that fit into grooves along the neck. Fret wire has two sides: the bead, which is smooth and rounded, and the tang, which is flat and barbed. The barbs hold the fret in place in slots on the guitar neck. When installing frets, the wire pieces should be rounded slightly. This curvature creates tension, causing the barbs to fully embed themselves within the slots. You achieve the curves with a fret bender.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Casement window replacement handle
  • Two patio door bearings
  • 2-inch round disk (plastic or wood), 3/4-inch depth
  • 7-by-5-inch flat piece of wood, metal or plastic
  • 2-inch machine bolt, 3/4-inch diameter
  • 3/4-inch nuts and washers (At least one; more washers may be required)
  • Pair of 2-inch machine bolts, 1/4-inch diameter (or same diameter as door bearings)
  • 1/4-inch screws and washers
  • Saw or knife for making groove in disk
  • Drill with 3/4- and 1/2-inch drill bits
  • Fret wire
  • Wire nippers
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Measure on the flat piece of wood (plastic or metal also can work) the centre point of the width of the piece, approximately 2 inches from the top, and make a pencil mark. Measure 1 1/2 inches below the mark and 1 1/4 inches on each side; make a pencil mark on each side. These three marks will be where the holes are drilled.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole using the 3/4-inch bit at the top marking. Swap the bit for the 1/2-inch bit (or the size that will match the centre hole of the door bearings) and drill a hole at each of the other two markings. You may want to measure a second hole 1/2 inch below these two holes and drill out enough material to elongate the bearing holes so you can adjust bearings as needed.

  3. 3

    Drill a 3/4-inch hole in the centre of the disk. Use the knife or saw to cut a shallow groove halfway onto the side of the disk. This will accommodate the barbed end of the fret wire.

  4. 4

    Install the disk and the bearings in their respective holes by aligning a washer over the holes onto both sides of the board. Thread the correct-sized bolt through disk and bearings and through the washers. Cap the bearings with a nut. Screw the door handle opposite the disk. You want the disk and bearings to be on the same plane, so you may need to experiment with the extra bolts and washer to get the proper alignment.

  5. 5

    Run the fret wire, tang side up, over the bearings but under the disk. Turn the crank slowly to bend the fret wire. Once bent, remove the wire and cut to the desired lengths using the wire nippers.

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