Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Cheap(er) Nut Files?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Anchoret, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    No you can't. Not properly anyway. Read the entire thread.

  2. NewPort

    NewPort Tele-Meister

    Nov 22, 2012
    Nye Beach, Oregon
    I would only use welding tip cleaners to adjust the slots on pre-slotted nuts. My experience is limited to two bone nuts and a squier duo-sonic factory nut. After getting the height right by sanding the bottom the bone nuts they would give me a Ringthud open note on most of the strings. The pre cut slots were too level to the fret board. The welding tip cleaners worked nicely to slant the slots to the tuning keys. They cut slowly and the small cleaners are very flexible so it takes a little extra care to get a straight ramp on the high string slots. It was nice to hear the Ringthud slowly turn into a steady Ring as the slots were trued up.

  3. Codger

    Codger Tele-Meister

    May 16, 2009
    I don't argue your point, but I was answering the original question. If you're a professional and a tool saves you time and makes your life easier by all means buy it, but it wasn't too long ago that a lot of these specialized tools didn't exist. Put a set of $6.00 needle files in the hands of somebody that's good with tools and understands what makes a good nut, and it will be as good as any other nut. If someone doesn't understand what makes a good nut it doesn't matter what tool you use. On a proper nut the string doesn't sit way down in a deep slot. The string should sit in slot that about half the string diameter in depth. You'll make the nut quicker with specialized tools, but if you take your time you can make a great nut with needle files.

  4. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Okay, I agree that "someone who is good with tools and understands what makes a good nut" should be able to make a serviceable one with needle files, and if that's what the opening "You" in your sentence refers to, then I'm fine with that. Heck, I'm pretty sure that someone like Wayne Henderson can make a better nut with a dinner fork than I can with all my specialized tools, but I still think for the average tinkerer/amateur the best advice is to have a pro luthier make the nut if you'll only need one or two, otherwise, just buy the proper files.

  5. SmokeyBC

    SmokeyBC TDPRI Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    I have a set of these. They work great. I have forgotten how much I paid for them.

    I have been someone who has made-do with non specialised tools from time to time. But when you get the tools that were made to do a specific job, like the nut files, you realise how much time and money was wasted before you got them. Who cares what they cost anyway, so long as they do the right job.

  6. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2011
    Southeast Florida
    I guess someone needs to tell this to PRS Guitars.

  7. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Wow! I guess if there's no string binding, then that nut is functional....but I like them like this:


  8. Boomhauer

    Boomhauer Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2013

  9. Peter Rabbit

    Peter Rabbit Tele-Holic

    Sep 17, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for the excellent post! (and it's still going!!)

    What does anyone think about welding tip dressing files?

  10. NewPort

    NewPort Tele-Meister

    Nov 22, 2012
    Nye Beach, Oregon
    I've changed my methods since my last post in this thread. I broke down and bought 2 files to do the plain strings, 10-13-16. I use a .013 file for the b and e and an .016 file for the g string. The difference in getting a good slot over the welding tips for the small strings is immense. The small welding tip cleaners are just too flexible for me to get a good slot. The 2 files are from Philadelphia luthiers ? ebay, less than $30.00 with shipping for both. I still use the tip cleaners for the wound strings, the larger cleaners are very rigid and cut pretty well.

  11. asbrooks

    asbrooks Tele-Meister

    Aug 22, 2010
    Leicester UK
    Living in the UK makes purchases from Stewart-MacDonald quite pricey, however I did buy a fine double-edged file some 15 years ago and it still cuts good e and b slots. The other slots I have used needle files. However I have only ever modded pre-slotted nut slots.
    A complete set would make like a little easy.
    I was looking on ebay and found these, anyone used them?

  12. orangedrop

    orangedrop Friend of Leo's

    Aug 20, 2010
    New York
    This reminds me of The Deluxe 52 Piece Camera Maintenance Kit...
    50 sheets of lens tissue, a bottle of cleaning fluid, and a plastic folder to hold all of it.
    Find a precision machinist/machine shop in your area, print this thread out to show them and ask them where to get the proper files in your country.

    I'll bet you can get your hands on some beautifully made German or Swiss tools that will last ages.

    Thank you for putting this thread together...
    Fantastic job!! *applause*

  13. StraightNeck

    StraightNeck Tele-Holic

    Nov 9, 2009
    Hosco copies,might be good.Or not,you never know until you have tried them.
    I have the made in Japan files and they are very good.

  14. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Tele-Meister

    Aug 29, 2003
    They can (but are so subtle in their cutting ability, that they may, or may not) provide the final perfect rounding of a slot made by less than perfect (real) nut files.

    Real deal nut files quite often are crap when it comes to making a perfectly rounded bottom slot. I have a whole set containing grobets, stewmacs, etc.

    I'm a perfectionist and this is my Not so humble opinion.

    But then I'm way outnumbered by the guys who also payed the big bucks for the same real files and think these "real" tools can do no wrong (even if they cut flat bottom or weird off kilter U shaped slots or whatever their precious expensive files are doing.

    I'm apparently one of the few who will come right out and say what I feel is subpar about a supposedly "correct" expensive tool. Even when I bought the damn same thing myself.
    I just have to call things as I really see it. I'm not going to kid myself when something isn't perfect, and I'm not going to shut my mouth about it either.
    I don't care how much I worked to pay for a damn tool. If there's fault in it, I'll tell you.

  15. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I miss David Collins around here. :(

  16. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    I have used a set of small saw blades for 20 years or so. I dont use them every day , but have used them many, many times. I have cut nuts from blanks , and also the preslotted ones.

    They have off course also been used for lowering factory slots. They were bought from a guitar parts supplier , one blade for the e and b strings , 4 other blades for the rest. Ive used them on normal sized strings , anything between .009 and .011. They work fine , never had any trouble , though I doubt they cut a u or v shaped slot.

  17. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    Just wanted to add to the general discussion about price/quality of tools :
    If I had guitars on my bench every day of the week , I would just buy the best tools I could get.
    Hobby or pro use , theres a rather big difference there !

  18. orangedrop

    orangedrop Friend of Leo's

    Aug 20, 2010
    New York
    This is a good example of it being worthwhile to take your guitar to a talented luthier and pay the cost of 1/3-1/2 a set of good files.

    You get the job done right the first time, no wasting a few nut blanks, or having to get a vise, a flat file, several grades of sand paper etc., and no snapped or bent $15 files from trying to push a paper thin tool through a slot that causes a bind if you are playing nut file massacre.:D

    I agree...

    Expensive junk is still junk, makes no difference!

    Friend of mine thought the el cheapo sawzalls at Harbor Freight were a good deal.
    Said that at $15 a pop, he bought 5 to keep on different job sites.

    Loaned me one since he didn't want me dirtying up his Milwaukee, and the thing stripped out cutting 1/8 fiberglass shower stall wall with a coarse hacksaw blade...
    On the first cut!

    Waste of $15, and I baby the heck out of tools, blow them out with air, put a coat of wax on em to make them easy to clean etc.

    Steak dinner replaced the cheap saw:cool:

  19. Richard Guy

    Richard Guy TDPRI Member

    Mar 10, 2009
    Superglue a piece of a wound guitar string on the edge of a Popsicle stick. Use that as a tool to 'round out' the nut slot bottom.

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