When working with many different old guitars, there is no standard mens watch (length of the open string) or shape of the grip board. The stable is not always placed in the right shelves to intonate well. Is the original grip board in fine wood or if it should be left anyway, I usually fill the tracks for the bands with thin wooden sticks and saw up new grooves that fit both the men's watch and the location of the stall. The band placement can be si and so on old guitars. But it happens just as often that I make a whole new grip board. The old or new board must be measured and sawn up for the new brass bands.

The grip board blank is selected (if it is not an original board to be traced) and one edge is sanded straight. Usually cut to the width first to save what is left over as molding material, then cut both ends with my saw box for a fine and straight cut to the right length. The thickness is then adjusted with the drum tips.

With a large gauge and a list of the bands location (can be found online, eg Stewmac's website) for the menus to be used, markings are made where the notch is to be cut. The placement is marked directly on the board with a screen. The fewer steps in the measurement process, the better accuracy!


The shooting gauge has a so-called noon scale that allows you to measure exactly one tenth of a mm. More carefully than that, one does not need to be purely practical.

With the placement of the bands noticed, it is time to cut the band grooves. Uses a special saw box purchased from Stewmac. It is adjustable in every way and can be adjusted for different thicknesses of the grip board blank. But it takes time to adjust, I have instead made a bunch of shims in different thicknesses with my roller tips which I put under the board to give the saw the correct depth with a fixed adjustment of the adjustable saw. This board needed to be raised 5.8 mm in order for the depth of the groove to fit the brass band pliers. Tested by cutting a groove in a cut from the grip board blank.

The mark should be centered under the saw and look forward equally on both sides before the clamp is tightened and you start sawing. The brass band pliers are a little wider than the thickness of the standard saw for the saw box, so I start sawing with a Japanese saw that gives the right width of the groove at the very top. Then I saw down to the right depth with the standard saw. The order is important, if you do the opposite, the Japanese saw may "derail".

When sawing it is best to be light on the hand and be quick in the sawdust, if you push too hard and saws can slowly bend (especially the Japanese saw that does not have a back) and give a banana-shaped groove.

The width of the cut groove must match the width of the tang, you should not have to force the straps down the groove, but the strap must not fall off by itself. Depending on the hardness of the wood, different good fit is needed, in an ebony board that is very hard the groove must be a little wider than in a maple or rosewood plank.

When all the grooves are cut, it is time to shape the grip board before gluing. The board is centered on the neck and the intonation is double checked, then there is a chance to move the board + -1 mm to get the stable leg in the right place on the stable. The board is forced and a pencil marks where to cut the edges of the board. With a ruler, a straight line is drawn all the way just outside the not always straight mark that the neck provided.

Instead of using a saw that can split the board if you are unlucky, I use a small sharp planer. Goes fast and is safe.

The last pass is then made roughly self-adhesive sandpaper mounted on a shelf. Uses an old table leg in maple as a counter to get 90 degrees on the edge of the board. Have three such shelves with different sandpaper pits stuffed under the workbench. Half a bend and a forced pull and you can start grinding. One of the most used tools in the room!

The pre-cut grip board is ready to be glued in place. Once in place, the radius grinding and grinding of the edge against the neck remains and of course the banding itself.