Here we can see some wear on the 2nd Fret.
The 1st levelling shows the 2nd fret is too low on one side and has wear indents.
Below is a sequence of shots taken during the process of ‘Levelling the Frets’, also known as Fret Dressing or Stoning. Important point: Anyone using a Chisel Stone needs to know - it’s not level!
There are ‘fret profile files’ around (top) but personally I prefer the old C. F. Martin method of using the ‘3 square file’ (bottom) - don't ask me why they’re called that but they are meant for saw tooth sharpening. This file gives much more control and it’s less likely to lose that precision top I worked so hard to achieve when shaping the sides.
Sometimes the fret ends stick out more than they should and this can make the neck feel unfinished - “the barbed wire effect”. In fact the guitar may well have been fine at manufacture but, as wood can shrink and metal doesn't, it leaves behind the fret-end, exposing sharp edges. In order to remove them, I bring the edges back flush with the side - at the same time taking care not to round off the corners.
The corners to each fret are smoothed, making sure not to lose the apex/top ridge and then the process of polishing can begin. I use one grade of Free-Cut and two grades of Wet or Dry Paper and just when you might think I am about to finish, I load up with some fine abrasive and ‘kiss the frets’ just to make sure the datum/level has not been lost in the polishing!
Now I can Polish up along the length of the fret and finally move on to 2 separate grades of steel wool before finishing off.
The frets below are shown in 3 stages to demonstrate the fret profiling as an operation. Let’s say you have 22 frets on a particular guitar - to me that is 44 sides that have to be brought to a nice curve while still leaving the thin ground top. In the picture to the right this has been completed.
This takes you to the Fret Clean-up