Jump to content

Nut Making Tools


guitar2005
 Share

Recommended Posts

For my current project, I'm going to need to make my own custom nuts. The fretboard is slightly wider than the usual fretboards and I figure that I'll need to make adjustements anyways, even with a pre-cut nut. For my two previous project, I ended up going to the local guitar shop to get the nuts adjusted. He did this for free 'cos I've know the tech there for years but I feel like I should be doing this kind of work myself.

StewMac has this nut making kit and I wonder if that's going overboard. Any suggestions?

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Nuts,_saddles/...g_Tool_Kit.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the only things *essential* in that whole deal are the round edge slotting files (although opinions vary about how those rubber handle ones compare to the ones with no handle). Ok, feeler gauges too, but a $4.00 set from the auto-parts store will do.

I have the string spacing rule, but by the time you've filed a notch on the pencil marks, you'll find with digital calipers that the "equal spacing" isn't extremely equal. So, I rely mostly on the calipers to show me how much to try to move the starter string notches to get them more equally spaced.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the only things *essential* in that whole deal are the round edge slotting files (although opinions vary about how those rubber handle ones compare to the ones with no handle). Ok, feeler gauges too, but a $4.00 set from the auto-parts store will do.

I have the string spacing rule, but by the time you've filed a notch on the pencil marks, you'll find with digital calipers that the "equal spacing" isn't extremely equal. So, I rely mostly on the calipers to show me how much to try to move the starter string notches to get them more equally spaced.

Thanks. I'll look into getting maybe just the files and a vise.

If I go with a nut blank vs pre-shaped, how much extra time is involved in shaping the nut?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the only things *essential* in that whole deal are the round edge slotting files (although opinions vary about how those rubber handle ones compare to the ones with no handle). Ok, feeler gauges too, but a $4.00 set from the auto-parts store will do.

I have the string spacing rule, but by the time you've filed a notch on the pencil marks, you'll find with digital calipers that the "equal spacing" isn't extremely equal. So, I rely mostly on the calipers to show me how much to try to move the starter string notches to get them more equally spaced.

Thanks. I'll look into getting maybe just the files and a vise.

If I go with a nut blank vs pre-shaped, how much extra time is involved in shaping the nut?

If you have a belt sander, maybe 10 minutes. If you don't, maybe 20 or 30. Seriously, I'd reccomend going with the blank and working from there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Their little vise is cool, but I can't see spending the $32.00 for it. I figure the asian import vise itself is worth no more than $15.00 to me, and the custom jaws worth $8.00 max. Guess I should have bought one when they sold it for $25.00 (Man, they really jack up the prices quick on some of their tools).

Instead, I bought a $4.00 pair of wide jawed vise-grips to hold nuts and saddles. I clamp the VG in a regular vise, where there's a flat area on the handle. With a little modding, the vise grips jaws can have some slight grinding done to make them much like the jaws on Mac's little vise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have a vise, so I just clamp the nut blank down with a C-clamp. There is usually some extra length in the blank, and that part goes under the clamp. I swing the blank away from the work bench so the file can go at an angle when necessary.

It's not difficult at all, though you need to be careful getting the slots to the right depth. I do this with the strings on, as recommended by Melvyn Hyscock. Make sure the action is set as low as possible when you cut the slots; otherwise you may mistake high action for a high string slot, and take the slot too low. I did this. :D

Edited by Geo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a small 2" vise that clamps on to the edge of a table or bench that came with my house that works great. I just ran the jaws over the grinder to remove the teeth and then sanded them flat. You can probably find one of those types at any hardware store. Or here is a nice one that you can get on the cheap at harbor freight that would work nicely.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Disp...itemnumber=3311

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A cheap drill press vice will also work. I use my eyes a belt sander, sand paper and files to shape. generally the files are after the fitting (small files). Slotting was covered by Soapbarstrat. Double sided sloting files are cheaper or you can find some thin file and just spend longer working on each slot.

Doing nut work should be on the lower end of guitar construction and repair, never seemed very hard to me considering all the other things that go into building or repairing a guitar and should be something you should do yourself. Buy two nuts they dont cost that much. I did buy that SM slot spacing ruler to save time. Adding all the other strings and adjusting the spacing with a micrometer was a longer process. Havent used it yet.

If time is an issue spend lots of money, having every tool makes it easier, dont forget about the nut video too.

Edited by Woodenspoke
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I'll get my own vise, I already have feeler gauges, not sure why I'd need a gauged .010" saw.

Regarding he nut file selection, if I play 10-46 gauge and 9-42 on some guitars, it looks like the kit's smallest 0.012" file would be too big anyways, right? I think I should go with the individual gauged nut files. Does that make sense?

Edited by guitar2005
Link to comment
Share on other sites

.012" would be ok, although the way you control the file can easily make the slot .014" wide. Still would work, I guess.

I don't understand why stewmac doesn't give a discount if you buy all of their "gauged nut slotting files". I think maybe some other place does give a better deal on those same files if you buy a whole set. Maybe it's warmoth, I'm not sure. Someone from Stewmac will read this and think I'm out to get 'em.

I actually prefer sandpaper around a round edge feeler gauge for large string slots (I guess anything over .032" or something like that). I get less of a chipping problem with the sandpaper. Those files have pretty coarse teeth for such fine work. Sometimes the teeth grab and pop a chunck off the end of the string slot.

I've mentioned the sandpaper before and had both hacks and pros say it doesn't work well at all. Well, talk is cheap.

If I have a .035" real nut file and another "nut file" made of sandpaper around a feeler laying on the bench, and I go for the sandpaper deal instead, I guess that says it all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...
Guest RavenT
I received my nut files today from Stew Mac. They look like they're good quality and look forward to using them.

I have a question though - Can I use these files on tune-o-matic saddles too? If not, what am I supposed to use for the saddles?

:D

Keep your old strings and get some Popsicle sticks and super glue to the edge of the stick and you have files that you can do the job with. Cut the strings in lengths of 2” cut the wood that passes on each side and you can use it on a tune-o-matic. This is a trick from Dan Erlewine. It works but slowly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest RavenT

Now if you are making a nut from a blank I would tell you not to file it into shape since it make a lot of dust so you need to wear a mask to keep this stuff out of your lungs. I would recommend using a wet/dry grinder no dust the speed is slow that you can hold the piece by hand and it polishes the nut at the same time. This is the grinder I am speaking of http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/product_...408474396672964 And best grinder to sharpen your tools.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or, you could just use a file/sander with dustprotection and clean up with a shop vac. Do you also shape your wood with a wetgrinder to avoid making dust?

Yeah, I just cut the nut blank with my scroll saw as a first pass and did the rest by hand, with a couple of files. The dust wasn't too bad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest RavenT
Or, you could just use a file/sander with dustprotection and clean up with a shop vac. Do you also shape your wood with a wetgrinder to avoid making dust?

Yeah, I just cut the nut blank with my scroll saw as a first pass and did the rest by hand, with a couple of files. The dust wasn't too bad.

Hi again some may think that the dust from bone is unsafe due to mad caw disease. Every time I pick up nuts from my provider keeps on telling me “Don’t forget to put a mask, you never know about these bones you know just to be on the safe side” And the second thing I hate, the smell of bone being sanded. So by using a wet/dry grinder, so I eliminate the dust from going everywhere less of a clean up so I don’t have to think about anyone’s safety if the bone dust is hazards to our health and when I say anyone I especially mean my kids. And second the smell of burning bone is nowhere to be detected so I still can work in the shop comfortably. And as for guitar2005 I can even slut the nut for the high E, just joking but the wet/dry grinder was only for sharpening my tools until I seen what it did with nuts and saddles and if you have kids then you may understand my concern with dust.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...