The Fretboard is the most important part of this build and should demand the most accuracy!!!
Please make sure to take your time, there is little room for error so double check any measurements before making any cut!!!
I like to use Poplar for fretboards because it's softer than oak and it looks nice when stained. By making the Fretboard separate from the Neck it makes it more convenient to handle. Also if you mess up and have to restart you waste a lot less lumber.
1. Dry fit the Neck in the cigar box and close the lid. Make a line 1/2" down from the Headstock end of the Neck. Then measure from that line to the box lid, this will yield your fretboard length. My measurement came out to 18 13/16". (sorry no image)
2. Figuring out the frets is pretty easy. I did learn the mathematics to calculate a fretboard but like most people I find it easier to use SteMac's Fret Calculator. http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator
I used the "Acoustic Guitar" setting with 19 frets and a 685.8mm (27") length.
The StewMac page also gives some great tips for fretting.
Don't forget to print them out!
3. You could use Metric or Standard in the previous step but whichever you choose, try and be as accurate as humanly possible to measure out the frets on your Fretboard. Make sure to measure from "Fret to Nut" (the Nut being the top of the Fretboard) and double check your accuracy with the "Fret to Fret" measurements on your SteMac printout. Using my square I made vertical lines for each fret (image 1, 2).Fret-dots:
This is a cosmetic addition to the build, it is completely optional but most instruments have fret-dots for ease of playing. I like to make my dots out of oak dowel rod, but you can use any kind of wood or plastic dowel you see fit.
If you choose to not do a insert you can use paint to make a dot before sealing the wood towards the end.
1. Cut nine 1/4" lengths your oak dowel rod.
2. The fret-dots will be located at the 3rd,5th,7th,9th,12th(x2),15th,17th,and 19th fret.
Measure the center of each fret getting a dot and make a mark (image 3), except for the 12th, it will get 2 evenly space dots marking the octave (image 4).
3. Drill holes in the marks you made with a 1/4" drill bit (image 6).
4. If done correctly the slices of dowel rod will fit snug into the holes. If not use a little wood glue.Side-dots:
Side-dots, like fret-dots are completely cosmetic and if you wish you can skip over this step.
However this is a very important feature for me, because I mark my side-dots where the diatonic frets are located on a traditional dulcimer.
It's nice because my Fret-Dots are "Guitar Style" and my Side-Dots "Dulcimer Style" making it easy to transition between traditional and contemporary tunes.
1. On the side of the Fretboard that will be facing up towards you depending on your dexterity, make a line diving the fretboard thickness in half. Then make a centered at the 2nd,4th,5th,7th,9th,10th,11th,12th(x2),14th,16th,17th,and 19th fret.
2. Instead of making a ton of tiny wood or plastic dots to be fitted, I took a 3/32" drill bit and hand twisted a divot at each mark made previously (image 7).
3. I then filled these divots in with a thick dimensional fabric paint. After it dries, sand down an excess paint so it is level with the wood (image 8).