Fret tang nippers are one of the most useful tools in a luthiers’ guitar bench. Bill Collings originally thought of the fret tang nipper. It was a simple idea and a simple design. The purpose of fret tang nippers is to remove or undercut some of the tang from the edge of the fret in order to install the frets in bound fretboards. Until this simple tool was designed, luthiers had to take each fret and manually file down the edges of the fret tang. Needless to say, this took a large amount of time. What used to take a half hour to do, now only take a minute or two with the fret tang nippers.
Fret tang nippers consist of a small guillotine-style shear and a block that is slotted for the fret bead. The shear cuts through the fret tang as the handles are squeezed. Pretty easy, huh?
How to use a fret tang nipper?
Using a fret tang nipper is easy. Once your fretwire is cut to size, place a piece of your fretwire in the fret tang nippers. The bead of the fret will fit in the slot of the block, while the fret tang will stick out under the shear. Simply, squeeze the handles together and your fret tang is nipped off. Now, all you have to do is file down the small burr that is left over! For more information about how to use fret tang nippers, please see the fret installation page.