Help me Cut a Nut - Please

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by sdlogan9, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    Hello guys -

    I need help cutting a nut, on my 56 customshop strat.

    Basically the holes on the nut are not cut deep enoff. The strings are too high off the first fret..

    Can some one that considers themselves informed and Knowledgeable when it comes to this please help.

    I need to know what tools and where is best place to get them? Lowes? HomeDepot?


    1. such as what tools to cut the nut? - Files?

    2. and what tools are used to measure distance between the strings and frets.?(this would be rather difficult with a tape measure:D)

    3. At what point in the setup faze is it appropriate to cut the nut? i.e. before or after seting the relief on the neck/adjusting intonation?


    all the info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.



    Peace
    Shane
     
  2. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    If you just need the nut cut on one instrument, it will be cheaper and better odds if you were to just take it in to a professional. I know a lot of people like to adjust this themselves, and some do a very good job. Overall though, this is a job I wouldn't classify as a do-it-yourself kind of thing for most.

    In my experience with students and apprentices (with hands-on, person to person training and all the best tools mind you), it would take at the very least about a dozen nuts being made before I might call one "acceptable" - probably averaging more in the two dozen range.

    If you do decide you want to learn this skill yourself, be sure you make a few dozen nuts on a junker before diving in to your strat. Even then, most folks will have a hard time finding where they need improvement unless there is a more experienced tech around to submit your work for criticism.
     
  3. rooster

    rooster Member

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    Gotta agree with David. It takes some serious $$$ and a lot of time and experience to be able to cut a good nut. I've been doing it for over 10 years on my own stuff, and I can do a really nice job these days, but when I started,..... oh, boy.

    rooster.
     
  4. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    Unfortunatly there is not a local professional here.

    But if you wouldnt mind mabby some constructive info as, how I would go about it my self, such as what type of files are used and where to get them?

    Thanks
    Shane
     
  5. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    So no one here wants to help me learn, just looking to discurage a newbie, hmm all these pro's dont want to share their info.

    Obviously, if I was afriad of making a mistake or I wouldnt be asking how to do this.

    Peace
    Shane
     
  6. voodoo364

    voodoo364 Member

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    I use the thin "rat tail" style files that are tapered from thick to thin. I will use vernier and mark file for each string guage. I would proceed very slowly and try to do one string at a time. The rat tail gives you a "U" shaped groove that does not bind as much as a "V" slot. I would assume someone like Lowes or Home Depot has these "jewelers files"
     
  7. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

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    Not only set the relief first, but make the neck as straight as possible.

    There, I did my part.

    Sincerely,

    Guy with all the tools, books and videos for nut-making, but can't really afford to buy a custom shop strat.
     
  8. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    No one's trying to discourage a newbie, just starting out with the most practical advice first. I'm not guarding any trade secrets or making any money on this forum, I'm just trying to give realistic advice. The reason I didn't jump right in with full instructions on tooling, techniques, measurements, etc., is that for a comprehensive description you're easily talking about a chapter or two of a book.

    If you haven't searched the archives, that's a good place to start. Then books like Hideo Kamimoto's "Guitar Repair", or Erlewine's "Guitar Player's Repair Guide" are good places to start. You can get by with a nut acceptable to some players with some minimalist tools, but to do it right you really need the right tools, and most importantly a fair bit of practice. I think it does a disservice to people for me to try and tell them a quick and easy method to get perfect results when I feel there isn't one.

    Perhaps I'll post more later if I feel up to it, but I'm sure there are plenty of others who will be happy to offer some do-it-yourself tips. Good luck.
     
  9. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    PM'ed David -
     
  10. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Member

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    Go to www.StewMac.com, and check out their section on Nuts, Saddles, etc. They sell the nut blanks, files, a very nice nut spacing ruler, and best of all, free on-line instruction on how to cut a nut (liberally advising you which of their tools to use in the process). If you really want to get into, you can even buy books or DVD's that will get into the subject in more detail.

    I've bought a number of their tools and had the pleasure of having Chuck Thornton show me how to make nuts, but I still rarely get it right the first time and go through several blanks. I don't get it perfect so much as get tired of doing it, but I do end up with very playable nuts.

    John
     
  11. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    Great info man !!!!

    Just what I needed there.

    Peace
    Shane
     
  12. 52ftbuddha

    52ftbuddha Member

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    Go look at warmoths site also they have some files that I prefer to stew mac. Also find yourself a copy of Dan Erlewines repair guide. Cutting a nut is not such a scary thing super glue and baking soda will allow you to mitigate some errors you may make the first time out. Stay away from coffee and give yourself plenty of time. You can stack feeler gages and cut down on to them. How good are your eyes? I find my optivisor is one of the best tools I have.

    rob
     
  13. pedalfreek

    pedalfreek Member

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    Ive read that the warmoth files are V shaped while the stew mac files are U shaped....and U shaped is preferred for nut slots, yea? So the string doesnt catch onto the nut...???
     
  14. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I've been using StewMac files for years and never had a problem with them. Erlewine's book is absolutely aces when it comes to explaining nut filing. Can't second (or third) the recommendation for his book enough.

    Sorry I didn't put in more detail on my earlier post. I figured there would be some good repair guys in Amarillo, I thought there would be enough music in that town to warrent some good techs.

    Best of luck, get a few practice blanks, and don't glue anything in until you've cut the one you like.

    rooster.
     
  15. sdlogan9

    sdlogan9 Gold Supporting Member

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    you would think there should be some good live music here, but the scene is flat. And the only people you could call tech's here is your local GC salesmen:rolleyes:

    Peace
    Shane
     
  16. deoreo

    deoreo Member

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    Nope, that is incorrect, the Warmoth files cutting edge is rounded like a string.
     
  17. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    I'll add another recommendation for Dan Erliwine's book, and the Stewart Macdonald nut making kit. Maybe they're not the greatest quality of files, but they work well enough. I'd suggest measuring them though, because sometimes the size labels are incorrect.

    You can do a good job on your first nut....it just takes patience, and attention to detail. Be careful with how you finish the slots, as this can make the difference between a great nut, and one that makes your guitar sound like a sitar.


    Cheers

    Kris
     
  18. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    One thing I guess I'm not clear on is whether you need to make a new nut, or if the spacing is okay but you just need the slots cut to a final height. If that's the case things could be a good deal more simple, unless of course you cut too low and have to make a new one anyway.:puh

    Getting a minimalist set of files and dropping the height a bit would be a good place to start, though with ideal tolerances of around .001" or less even this can include a bit of a learning curve.
     

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