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I am restoring and aged soprano Ukulele neck and the fingerboard is showing wear marks on the top three frets. Any advice re how to restore these worn points on the fingerboard to match the rest of the neck? It looks like they may be just black stain or paint? Photo should be attached for your delectation.

Also any advice re what to use to restore the finish on the rest of the neck would be appreciated as I intend to sand it down to the bare wood. Usually, I use finishing wax, but I want to restore the finish to something like what it is now. Is it shellac/french polish or varnish?


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That finish looks very similar to "old wood" finish.   Take steel wool and soak it a couple of days in vinegar.   It will form a dark-gray stain that should look very similar to what we see above.

It's probably some type stain, paint or dye on the fingerboard.  You can try a black stain, or even spray some black paint on a rag and rub it in.  I've don some touchups using shoe polish.  On the rest of the neck, I usually finish with Tru-Oil or clear lacquer, but you can use varnish.

It looks like it needs a complete refret. That will make it easier to repaint the fretboard. That was most likely black lacquer. 

I am indeed doing a complete refret. The missing fret is one I pulled out so I could take the measurements with a micrometer. New fret wire has arrived, and at the moment all the other frets have been removed and I have stripped the finish off the neck and am presently in the process of giving the bare wood several coats of acrylic varnish. I like acrylic varnish as unlike oi based, it doesn't yellow with age. Just hit anothersnag with the rim, but will post that later (will be asking for advice yet again).

Them old fret jobs were all leveled on a belt sander it seems, best to refret after a board leveling.

 Shotty as them old ones are built, its most likley a bone nut so thats a good thing


Dyed maple. Measure and record the scale length. Pull out all the frets. Pop the nut out. Wrap a chunk of 80 grit snugly around a piece of 3/4 inch plywood and start sanding. This might take an evening or two but put on some ukulele music in the workshop and it will go by quickly. Sand until you do not see the bottom of the fret slots. Then treat yourself to a beer.
Slice a thin chunk of hard wood on the old bandsaw.
Mark out the fret positions using the stewmac fret calculator. Use millimetres. Cut the fret slots carefully using a saw with a .024 inch kerf. Order up a chunk of small fret wire (prewar mandolin or banjo is a good size). Gently tap the fret wire into place. Use a chunk of very hard wood or brass in between your hammer and the fret. File the overhanging ends of the frets flush to the sides of the fingerboard. Then hold the file at a 45 degree angle and file the fret ends.
Glue the fingerboard on to the freshly sanded old fingerboard with gorilla glue. Watch out to keep the nut end perpendicular to the long axis of the neck. Make a nut from hardwood and glue it on with a drop of Titebond glue.
Put a few drops of mineral oil on the fingerboard and rub it in with your fingers wipe it clean and let it dry overnight. Cut or file 4 slots into the nut. String it up and you are in business! Have another beer.

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