4" Table Saw Fret Slotting Blades

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by tlgrimmy, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. tlgrimmy

    tlgrimmy New Member

    Sep 17, 2015
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    Beaumont, CA
    Hello out there. I've been working on a little 4" table saw project for fret slotting (saves a ton of money on blades over the larger table saw offerings and a dedicated unit is always set up and ready to go at a moment's notice). I think others could benefit from a little deal I'm working on with a blade manufacturing company. I made a small 4" table saw (easy to do for cheap - will post pictures later), but there are a few on the market already (Dremel used to make one, Proxxon, MicroLux), though I hear the Harbor Freight version isn't worth it due to the ridiculously low-powered motor.

    There's a company called Thurston Manufacturing out of Rhode Island that makes a .023" kerf 4" diameter blade with a 1/2" arbor (model 121). I bought a couple (about $20/ea) and they're great, but have tiny teeth, with extremely small gullets. They cut well, but load up really quickly and heat up a bit, causing the resins in the wood to cake on the blade. Having to clean the blade after every use is less than ideal;). I noticed Luthier's Merchantile uses a 6" version of the same style blade, but the teeth and gullets are almost exactly twice the size. After determining the teeth size/spacing, I called Thurston Manufacturing and asked if they could make something similar in a 4" blade. Turns out they already have a 4" blank with that tooth size and spacing that just needs to be thinned down to .023" kerf width. I'm waiting on a quote, but I'm positive the pricing will go down as the quantity of blades ordered goes up. I'm hoping they'll offer them at $30/ea or less (the other ones are $16.50 or so before shipping).

    FYI, for those interested in building a 4" table saw, I bought some 1/2" shafting and 1/2" ID bearings on amazon for $8 and $4 respectively, made some bearing blocks out of hardwood, made a box and table saw top from MDF, bought a 1/2" arbor adapter (needed some truing), made some pulleys out of MDF as well, small 1/4" v-belt, and the whole thing ran about $35, minus the motor. Oddly enough, you probably want to aim for 1/2 hp or 3/4 hp if its a 1725 rpm motor (good idea to step it up to about 5000 rpm with pulleys, which eats some power). My 1/4 hp motor just didn't cut it. If you have a 3450 rpm motor, you won't have to step the speed up nearly as much, meaning less power eaten up by the large pulley on the motor, so 1/4 hp might cut it in that situation. Better to go a little too big though, as most of us are trying to speed up the fret slotting process with a build like this and having to slow down to let the blade cut kind of defeats the purpose.

    I got a tad impatient waiting on a reply from Thurston (they've been great, I'm just not known for patience when gathering supplies for a project;) ). I discovered another company called Malco Saw, so I called them up. Turns out they make fret slotting blades for Fender. He said he could make me a 4" x .023" x 1/2" arbor blade with the same style of teeth Fender uses and get them out quick for about $23/ea. I spoke with an employee named Greg and he was great! I'm waiting on the blades and a link v-belt, but after I get things all back together I'll post pictures.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  2. telebomb

    telebomb New Member

    Jan 28, 2017
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    hey ...I have been looking for this for a while . did you ever post any pictures?
  3. pshupe

    pshupe Member

    Mar 5, 2015
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    I purchased the Stew Mac table saw blade and it's not that pricey and will last me forever. Considering I already have a table saw and am short on shop space it works well for me. Also it doesn't take very long to setup the blade and I can do 10 boards in the space of time I used to do one. I'm wondering the tolerance for runout on a DIY table saw. It's pretty important that the saw blade has no wobble. I guess at 4" diameter the runout may be quite small compared to a 7" blade but still. It's an interesting concept and if I was a production shop and had more space I may be interested.

    If you are making your own single blade table saw, you may want to look at an arbour with 23 or 24 blades. Now that would be fast. I'm assuming that is what Fender or Gibson would use.

    Regards Peter.

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