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Nut Files
Author
Post
ejko

Total Topics: 24
Total Posts: 113
Anyone have any experience/ideas on how to cut the nut slots without spending a small fortune on a nut file set?

Ed

Jul 18, 06 | 4:28 pm
Phlytyer (Keith)

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 273
Ed:

I acquired a 10 pc. set of needle files off of eBay that should do the job (well, at least the first one).

Keith

Jul 18, 06 | 5:21 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
If you have a Woodcraft store nearby, they have a set of files in their woodcarving department that the tech in the guitar shop I worked in used all the time. They cost about $25 for five files and they are graduated in thickness. Also check Frank Ford's site (www.frets.com) for ideas.

Harbor Freight also has sets of needle files like the eBay sets if you have an HF store nearby.

Bill

Jul 19, 06 | 5:12 am
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
I checked out the Woodcraft website and didn't find anything that looked like this. The closest I could find was this set of jeweler's files: http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?FamilyID=3219

Do you happen to have a Woodcraft part number handy? I drive by a Woodcraft store every day (a very dangerous store to have so conveniently located) and I'd like to check them out.

Another suggestion on the AG Luthier forum was to use a set of welding torch tip cleaning files. These are relatively cheap and graduated in size. They were suggested as a solution for occasional use, but not for higher volume work.

Jul 19, 06 | 7:53 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Dennis -- That wasn't the set I was thinking about. That one is a lot like the eBay set that was mentioned, isn't it?

I'm sorry, I don't have a part number for the set I was referring to. I never bought any. I can describe them, though. It is a set of files on the wall with all the fancy Japanese carving knives and blades, and each file is shaped like a wide popsicle stick. The end is rounded, the blades are dark, and (I think) there's a coating on the handles. They are graduated in width, and are designed for filing slots like those we put in nuts. They come in a package of (pretty sure) five and cost about $25. I don't keep the Woodcraft catalog around here -- it's too tempting.

Bill

Jul 19, 06 | 5:13 pm
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
Ok, I'll try to stop by the store in the near future and take a look. Thanks! I think they may be having a sale this weekend, too ;-)

Jul 19, 06 | 7:29 pm
ms960

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 107
I bought a set like this from Grizzly. They look pretty decent. I haven't gotten to filing my nut yet, but that's coming up very quickly.

Mark

Jul 20, 06 | 4:22 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Mark -- that's a nice set. It will come in handy. For filing the actual nut slots, though, you might find you need a thinner file. Frank Ford has recommended, when nothing else is available, using saw blades: razor saws for trebles and hacksaws for bass.

Like Shakespeare said, "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip..." meaning after all the preparation and care, the last step can spoil something. Incorrectly filed nut slots cause a ton of problems -- intonation troubles, "sitar" buzzes, other buzzes, odd little "tink" sounds, -- and they don't always seem to come from the nut. The best way to prevent them is to follow all the instruction you can find on making the nut.

Stewmac's "Free Information" link on their home page will lead you to a good info page on making the nut. They even have a whole video. Not recommending you buy anything from them -- necessarily -- just use their info. Check out www.frets.com too.

Bill

Jul 20, 06 | 5:38 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Nut files are actually jewelers and pattern makers tools/ files, the real name is “joint round edge file” I have had good luck using only three sizes. .016” -.028” and .047”. You can rock the smaller size files side to side to get the next size slot. To get a nice professional job I have found nothing that work as good (for me). The most frequent mistakes I see are grooves that are too deep, its only necessary to have them slightly deeper than the radius of the string. The second most common problem is the grooves are not slanted back – they must be angled and slightly deeper at the headstock side than the fingerboard side. And if you happen to file too deep -- baking soda and CA glue work great to re-build the slot.

Ken ------ Kenneth Michael Guitars

Jul 20, 06 | 1:54 pm
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
I stopped at the local Woodcraft store this afternoon to look for nut files. I didn't find anything that seemed like it would work. One of the guys at the store has built a few electric guitars and done some repair work, so we talked about nut file alternatives. He said he uses a fish hook sharpening file most of the time. It is shaped like a very flat diamond in cross section and has teeth on the very edges, so it will cut a groove nicely. We pulled out some Japanese saw sharpening files and they were very similar, but did not have teeth along the edge :-( So the search continues!

Jul 20, 06 | 10:35 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
I will go to Woodcraft today and see the files I referred to. Maybe they aren't stocked at all stores. I'll update the info here.

Jul 21, 06 | 5:31 am
ejko

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 113
I just purchased a set of torch tip cleaners for a few dollars on e-bay. They are a set of various diameter round pins with ring-type grooves in them. For a few bucks, I thought I'd give them a try.

I'll post my impression once they arrive and I've used them.

Ed

Jul 21, 06 | 4:22 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Well, sorry, guys, but I spent an hour in Woodcraft yesterday looking for the files I was talking about, and they all think I'm crazy now. I'm beginning to agree. Nobody there remembered anything like I was describing, and I couldn't find them.

I have no guess as to what my mind has done in this case, but I still think I saw what I said I saw. For now, though, I couldn't find the files there. The did have a file exactly like Stewmac's nut file, though, called a Japanese Saw File (what they called them), for about $20 each.

Bill

Jul 23, 06 | 5:01 am
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
Bummer, Bill. I did some more digging at other store web sites (like Rockler and Traditional Woodworker) and also found nothing. The I remembered that Warmoth sells some tools. I found a nice looking set of three graduated files that cut on both edges, with each edge a different size. You can check them out at http://www.warmoth.com/hardware/parts/parts.cfm?fuseaction=include_string_nuts if you like. The set is $41, which isn't too bad.

Jul 23, 06 | 7:16 am



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