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Tips for Cutting a Fretboard to Length

A trick for determining how long to make your fingerboard.

Video Transcript

Today’s Tips du Jour Mailbag question comes to us from New York.

“Robert, I have always struggled with getting the end of the fretboard cut to the right length. Have you got any tips to help make this process easier? – Scott from Horse Heads, New York”

Scott, I’ve always struggled with that as well. But I’ve got a really neat little tip that somebody on my private chat group offered recently. I would like to give them credit but I can’t remember who it was. Let me show you the tip.

So here’s the way I used to do it and I really struggled with it kind of like you did. I would get down here and I’d kind of eyeball underneath here where I think I could cut it off and I would mark it across the top like this. You’ve got a really small window of opportunity back here if you’re using the traditional herringbone type rosette with the inner and outer ring. You don’t want to expose the seams there so you’ve got a very small area there that you can actually cut that off. And if you miss it, the technical term for that is bad. So let me show you a really easy tip to mark that exactly where it needs to be.

So here’s the tip. Take a piece of tape, place it across there exactly where you want the end of that fretboard to come to. Now on my guitars, I like them to come just a little bit this side of the soundhole but not exposing the joint of my inner ring. So now with the fretboard clamped in the correct position – it’s centered, it’s already been tapered – I can now see exactly on that tape line where the end of that fretboard needs to come to. However, since it’s already been tapered, I want to make sure that it’s square so I take a sliding bevel like this and align it with the fret, slide it down to the edge of the tape, and mark. That’s where the edge of the fretboard needs to come to. You can cut that off there, glue the end of your fretboard down, and it’s good.

So Scott, thank you very much for your question. I would be interested in learning where that name came from. It’s not Horse Head it’s Horse Heads – plural. Anyway, there’s no excuse now for cutting your fretboard off too short or too long. Happy building.