Chip Stoppers save the day

Just a quickie and probably something that’s relevant more to the techs and luthiers that read this.

Stewart McDonald introduced ‘chip stoppers’ a while back and I got some to try.

I’ll be honest: I don’t have to use these very often but, when I do, they can really save the day.

Fret removal with a chip stopper 

Some fretboard wood can be ‘chippy’. As you remove frets pieces of wood can come with them. This is a serious pain in the ass as you then have to try glue all the chips back so you finish with a neat and sound refret.

These chip stoppers can help prevent wood chips pulling out (the clue’s in the name).

Chip stoppers are strips of thin sheet steel (.020” and 0.10”). Think of them like a feeler gauge with a slot cut down the middle.

They can go between your fret pullers and the fretboard. The fret pullers push the chip stopper down at the same time it’s pulling the fret up. This helps keep the wood in place. Brilliant.

Usually you’ll work one in under the fret end as you start to lift it and then work it along as you walk your pullers across the board. Sometimes — like here — you’ll find a weirdly long fret tang and the extra height of the chip stopper also helps extract the fret as well as prevent the wood chipping.

Like I say, I don’t use these that often but, when I need ‘em…