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What Alternate Ways Have You Slotted A Nut?


sbskates
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I used a thin saw for a rough start and a 2mm gouge and small files I have. It worked ok. I made the nut out of ebony though, I don't know if that makes it easier or harder.

I usually use corian because I have a bunch of it but I did a couple electrics with ebony and it was harder to shape. I used to use small saws and files but wasn't very happy with the results so I bought a nut slotting file set from warmoth for $64 and it's great kind of expensive but if your planning on building guitars often it's well worth it.

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CHIFWELD011.jpg

I keep hearing about these torch files and finally ordered a set. About $6. I was very disappointed when I received them.

They are more like a wound guitar string than a file, really no teeth just bumps. On softer material they did cut but on hard bone they are useless. This may be more of an urban legend than a suitable nut file; passed down by those who have never used a real nut file before. I see no reason to promote these as an alternative. You would be better off with an old wound guitar string as Wood is Good suggests. Also the smaller sizes are so thin you cannot put enough pressure on them to actually file anything even soft materials.

However it is on my to do list to mount these tip cleaners on wood Popsicle sticks and see if I can sharpen them so they actually cut. Honestly I give myself only a very small chance of success and I'm usually one for not giving up.

I suggest you put the $6 toward a very small nut file $10-12 and buy a razor saw and/or a cheap set of needle files for the larger sizes. At least these suggestions are working solutions.

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Gee, was the topic of this post "alternate ways to slot a nut" or "convince me i need to buy nut files"? Obviously a $6 tool ment for another purpose isn't going to work as well as the real deal for 10x more. But as far a a sub $10 tool to get a bunch of small diameter files, you won't find anything else.

The small diameter ones (and even the bigger ones for that matter) are defiantly a pain to use, especially if the nut is already on the guitar. Takes two hands to hold at both ends of the file to keep any tension on them.

Paul

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Gee, was the topic of this post "alternate ways to slot a nut" or "convince me i need to buy nut files"? Obviously a $6 tool meant for another purpose isn't going to work as well as the real deal for 10x more. But as far a a sub $10 tool to get a bunch of small diameter files, you won't find anything else.

The small diameter ones (and even the bigger ones for that matter) are defiantly a pain to use, especially if the nut is already on the guitar. Takes two hands to hold at both ends of the file to keep any tension on them.

Paul

Really there is no great substitute for nut files to make the job easy and quick but a razor saw and some needle files can be had for under $10. Razor saw $7 and round needle files about a $1.90 each or less on eBay. Thats all you need to start with. I still use both of these tools and nut files too.

In the nut file blurbs on this forum torch tip cleaners always come up. But no one goes into detail, now I know why. Yeah "Buy tip cleaners" is all anyone ever says. If anyone ever actually talked about using them or how they were made I would still have $6 in my pocket. You even say that they are very hard to file the nut while its on the guitar, How else are you supposed to properly set up a nut?

Torch tip cleaners have no teeth for a reason they are not meant to file the torch opening. They cant really file like a needle file or a nut file. Yes with enough pressure and force it will remove material on a soft nut, but so would a round wound guitar string.

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Nut kit on the cheap:

CKEXC-IMG_0747.jpg

This is a basic nut kit on the cheap. You can remove three of the larger files and that leaves you with the very small 4" round (#2 cut ) needle file and a narrow kerf saw. This one happens to be sold by Stumac but Zona also makes saws this thin. Google Razor saw to find prices but nmake sure you dont buy a blade which is too much larger than the snallet string you will use. That is if tour smallet sting is .010 then dont buy a blade that is .020 not going to work. You saw the slot then file it out with the tip of the round needle file.

Again the Zona saw I have seen for $7 and that very small needle file cost me $2 at MSC a few weeks ago when they were having a 40% off sale. Normally sells for $3 (import).

The diamond file is from Harbor Freight and just like a standard needle file set is on the large size for half the strings unless you are making a bass. The diamand grit makes it that much thicker. The 6" file is way too big for any nut work.

Hope this makes more sense.

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In the nut file blurbs on this forum torch tip cleaners always come up. But no one goes into detail, now I know why. Yeah "Buy tip cleaners" is all anyone ever says. If anyone ever actually talked about using them or how they were made I would still have $6 in my pocket. You even say that they are very hard to file the nut while its on the guitar, How else are you supposed to properly set up a nut?

It all boils down to how you can make it useful. Obviously, it didn't happen. I like using the tip cleaners because they achieve the perfect shaped nut slot. If you are buying files then they better have rounded edges and those that don't will give you grief. Of course a tip cleaner is not designed for sawing into bones. :D Try first rough cutting the slot with a jeweller's saw and then finishing off with the tip cleaner. Just a few strokes will give you the proper shape. You only need to cut down to about 1/2 the proposed string diameter anyway.

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i bought a set of "nut files" on ebay a while back

they are just feeler guages with teeth cut into them

you could look into buying feeler guages (the diameter of your strings) and cutting some teeeth and just making your own

This is exactly what I use. I had a double-ended Snap On feeler gauge set that had all the sizes I needed. It is the type that allows the gauges to 'fan out' which also provides you with a handle. I carefully cut teeth into approximately the first inch, along one edge, of the appropriate sized gauges using a Dremmel with a thin diamond slitting blade. I also rounded the edge of the thicker gauges to produce that round bottom in the nut slot. Works great and was much cheaper than a file set.

DR

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It all boils down to how you can make it useful. Obviously, it didn't happen. I like using the tip cleaners because they achieve the perfect shaped nut slot. If you are buying files then they better have rounded edges and those that don't will give you grief. Of course a tip cleaner is not designed for sawing into bone.

OK someone takes you at your word (not you specifically) and buys a set of tip cleaners (holding my hands up). Now unlike myself most people are not experienced enough to even setup at nut, otherwise they wouldn't be asking about nut tools. I have expensive nut files and other tools so my purchase was to expand my knowledge. When you do make a recommendation and dont discuss its merits or in this case its limitations, you are just increasing your post count in my opinion and not providing any information helpful to others looking for direction.

What if their first nut is bone? Who and where did anyone say it cant be used on bone? Now some Newbie is saying to himself those guys are idiots. :D

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This is exactly what I use. I had a double-ended Snap On feeler gauge set that had all the sizes I needed. It is the type that allows the gages to 'fan out' which also provides you with a handle. I carefully cut teeth into approximately the first inch, along one edge, of the appropriate sized gages using a Dremel with a thin diamond slitting blade. I also rounded the edge of the thicker gages to produce that round bottom in the nut slot. Works great and was much cheaper than a file set.

Actually I looked into those eBay nut files sets and the seller. Their longevity were in question as was any warranty or support from the seller. Also he would take your money and ship weeks later. Complaints were mostly about how fast they dulled, I will assume these people used the nut gages on a hard material like bone. Others said it worked fine, again they are probably using a soft nut material.

Making your own is a good solution. Soapbarstrat mentioned the Stumac feeler set has a round edge.

What material have you used it on?

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Well, they (tip cleaners) work fine for me. I've been shaping nut slots with them for years on plastic, bone, corion, tusq and even brass with no problems. It just takes a little while to figure out the best method(s).

Whether I'm recommending welding tip cleaners or expensive specialized files is not the point, (not my thread anyway) I just see it as a viable alternative. Its all trial and error and thats what being a "Newbie" is all about. If it doesn't work for you then you then it wasn't a big investment and you can always take up oxyacetylene cutting/welding or find some other use for those handy little buggers. :D

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Well, they (tip cleaners) work fine for me. I've been shaping nut slots with them for years on plastic, bone, corion, tusq and even brass with no problems. It just takes a little while to figure out the best method(s).

Whether I'm recommending welding tip cleaners or expensive specialized files is not the point, (not my thread anyway) I just see it as a viable alternative. Its all trial and error and thats what being a "Newbie" is all about. If it doesn't work for you then you then it wasn't a big investment and you can always take up oxyacetylene cutting/welding or find some other use for those handy little buggers. :D

Using them to scratch my butt. So yeah they are useful after all. LOL

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Soapbarstrat mentioned the Stumac feeler set has a round edge.

You're getting something mixed up. I've never had my hands on *Stew-Mac* feeler gauges.

I've had a couple sets from the local auto-parts store, plus the economy set from Enco. They all had rounded edges.

(actually discovered a defect with the Enco gauges long after buying them, and the company that makes the gauges totally took care of my problem, without me doing anymore than mentioning the problem to them *once* )

And yes, I still do the sandpaper/feeler gauge combo when I get to heavier gauge slots (I prefer the cut of the sandpaper over the cut the nut files make)

I had a famous 'old timer' pro say I was off my rocker about using sandpaper to cut nut slots. Oh sure, that same sandpaper can mill metal frets level, but suddenly can't handle nut materials ?

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You're getting something mixed up. I've never had my hands on *Stew-Mac* feeler gauges.

Scratching my head where I read that bit of info :D I always assume everything I remenber comes from your tool posts :D

I just checked my feeler gage sets again and none of them have a round edge? I know several sets were from Enco but they sell several brands and I probably went for price. If you have a brand name/lenght available share it. No clue why sandpaper is any different than any other abrasive tool. As long as it works who cares.

I am surprized Frank Ford recommended the torch tips. I know I paid more than necessary but the price also included shipping. Just looking at them I had a hard time figuring out how the smaller sizes would work without soldering a rod on each end for tension. Just the act of dragging a wire through a cut and putting pressure dounward usually creates a convex curve which will not help achieve the proper string breaking point at the front of the nut.

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You know me : Mr. Betterholdontoitjustincase

In other words, I still have the bubble wrap package from the Enco Gauges. 'KD' is the brand. Part # 161. Says 'made in USA' (real odd for an Enco economy item to be made in USA). Anyway, they have rounded edges and this KD company is who I shot an email to, about one of the gauges having a defect, and they were A++ about it.

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