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Bagpress - Fret Cutting Jig - a review  

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tv1
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10/10/2020 6:34 pm  

If you don't want to read the whole discussion, here's what you need to know;

BUY ONE

 

Right, for those with a bit more time to read the whole topic, let's go ...

 

A few weeks ago, Mr Bagpress, aka @darrenking, very kindly sent me a prototype of his fretslot cutting jig and asked me to test pilot it.

Here I am in full-on test pilot mode ...

?v=1548519808

 

And, more importantly, here's the jig emerging from its packaging cocoon ...

20200926 095333
20200926 095606
20200926 095711

 

That was v1 of the prototype.  

After a little energetic test piloting, we discovered that the adjustable outer pieces of the saw guides wore a little bit as the shoulder of the saw rubbed against them.  Nothing fatal, and to be completely honest, not really a problem, but I think Darren is something of a perfectionist, so he developed an improved v2 ...

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tv1
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10/10/2020 6:37 pm  

Let's play spot the difference ...

 

20201010_171624.jpg

Those outer parts of the saw guide are now made of harder wearing material, and are - unsurprisingly - much harder wearing!

When Darren sent them to me, he included another 8 bolts.  I wondered why.  Until I realised that the new parts are slightly thinner than the original parts, so the original bolts protruded very slightly though to the inside of the jig. 

Did that matter? 

No, not really.

But, see comment above about "perfectionist".

😉

 

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tv1
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10/10/2020 6:46 pm  

This is the slotting template.

20201010 171546

Through a clever bit of cunning design, you get 6 different scale lengths with the template.  

Which is, clever.

I stuck a piece of masking tape over each end so that I could mark a centre line, and then use that to line up with the centre line on the fretboard blank.  You don't need to do that if your fretboard is square and straight-edged to start with (just line up the straight edge with the edge of the template).

You can see on the photo that I wrapped the ends of the masking tape over the edges of the template.  That means that the template sits *very* snugly within the jig.  It just doesn't move.  At all.  There's absolutely no need to clamp the template in position within the jig.

 

20201010 172246

All I needed to do was clamp the jig to a workbench, and then it's all solid.

The base of the jig does have 4 holes (at each corner) which is perfect if you want to bolt it to a worktop, or even to a larger piece of mdf (etc) and then clamp that to a workbench.  But, this worked fine for me in test-pilot mode.

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tv1
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10/10/2020 7:04 pm  

That's my StewMac fretsaw.  Bought at the same time as I bought my StewMac fret slot cutting jig.

Two observations;

Firstly, the fret guides on the Bagpress jig are adjustable for height (as you'd expect) so you can cut the fret slots to the correct depth.  But the right hand white guide is also width adjustable.  Which means that you can widen the gap into which the saw fits by perhaps 2-3mm, allowing it to work with different saws.

Nice touch.

Secondly, having the StewMac kit, I naturally compared the two.  Guess what ... the Bagpress version is cheaper - considerably cheaper.  Oh, and it's better too.

 

Why better?

It's more accurate.

I prepared some plywood fretboards and cut some slots.  I used the 25" scale on both, and then measured the distance from nut position to the 12th as 21st frets on both.  Then I compared those measurements to the calculated distance from a standard fret position calculator.

The results;

image

I fully accept that the accuracy of my measurements are constrained by the accuracy of my steel rule (and my eyes!).  I put the saw into the slot cut at the nut position, and then measured from the front-edge of the saw (to mimic the position of the nut) to the middle of the 12th and 21st frets.

As far as I could tell, the BagPress positioning was more accurate.

I think that's because of the snugness of the fit of the template into the jig.  There is just no movement.  The fretboard is held in perfect position as the positioning pin fits perfectly into the positioning holes in the scale template.  With my StewMac jig, there's a small amount of play because the positioning pin doesn't fit as snugly or securely.

 

The Bagpress is also ridiculously cheaper than the StewMac alternative.  It's fair to say that the StewMac kit has evolved a bit since I bought mine, and it looks far more fine-tuning adjustable now.  But it's now $225.

Plus $50 for each template (which gives you 2 scale lengths).

Even if you only wanted a single template, that's still going to be £250-£300 with shipping and duties.

Ouchy.

 

Is the Bagpress kit as robust as the StewMac option?  Perhaps not.  It's ply rather than metal, so may wear a little more.  If you're going to make a guitar a month, then the BagPress kit is going to be fine for a good few years.  If you wanted to make a guitar a day, then perhaps the StewMac kit would be a better option. 

Actually, if you wanted to make a guitar day, then you'd be buying proper industrial kit rather than the StewMac jig anyway!

 

So, as I said a little earlier

BUY ONE.

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tv1
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10/10/2020 7:04 pm  

@Boo - the prototype will be headed your way early next week.

@darrenking - thanks again for trusting me with it, and for the rapid responses to the feedback!

@markbailey - get these in the shop!!

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Boo
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10/10/2020 10:18 pm  

@tv101 Great review Tony, very detailed. I’ll be glad to contribute my opinion so thanks for sending it on, I appreciate it and thanks Darren for including me. 

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Clinton
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14/10/2020 6:33 am  

Like it a lot!


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tv1
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14/10/2020 8:30 pm  

Just checked with the courier's tracking system @Boo - it's still "on its way" to you.

Though I had something delivered today (same courier company) before they'd even told me that it was out for delivery!

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Boo
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14/10/2020 11:30 pm  

@tv101 Thanks Tony, I’ll look out for it. 

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Boo
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15/10/2020 11:49 am  

@tv101 I’ve received the jig you sent from @darrenking so I’ll have a play with it this weekend (I would have a look tomorrow but it’s my wedding anniversary). 

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tv1
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15/10/2020 12:07 pm  

(I would have a look tomorrow but it’s my wedding anniversary)

@boo - sorry, I don't really understand the problem ...

"Good morning Mrs Boo, here's a card, I'm just off to the workshop, call me when lunch is ready"

???

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Boo
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15/10/2020 5:20 pm  

"Good morning Mrs Boo, here's a card, I'm just off to the workshop, call me when lunch is ready"

@tv101 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Yeah, as funny as that is, she may not let me back in the house for my lunch! 

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Jonathan Hodgson
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24/10/2020 9:29 am  

I think I'll be taking your advice and buying one.
But after your bit about the masking tape for the centre line, my first thought was "why don't they laser a centre line on to the template?"

The text I assume is lasered, so adding a centre line would just be a few seconds more on the process.

Just a suggestion.


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