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. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Tele-Meister

    Aug 29, 2003
    I actually did that in the 90's. Was determined to make a guitar string nut from a 1/8" wide piece of galvanized steel. So I glued the piece of guitar string to popsicle sticks, found a local rock/gem stone shop selling containers of loose abrasive. Dipped my string/popsicles in naptha then into to the loose abrasive grit and I got the job done. The grit stuck between the string winds while sanding the round slots in the steel. (still have way more loose abrasive grit than I'll probably ever use)

  2. mikeyb

    mikeyb Tele-Meister

    Aug 18, 2014
    Chicago, IL

  3. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    It's five year old thread. Even so, $26.00 per file is obscene.

  4. glester

    glester Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    I agree. Why are they so expensive. To get a new nut hand made from the local guy that I trust to do a perfect job is $75. The material is only a few bucks for the nut and it does take time to do, so I get the price of $75. So $100 for a full set starts to get worth it if you are going to be doing a few of these. But one would think that they could start making these and selling them for half what others are selling and take over the market.

  5. cugir321

    cugir321 TDPRI Member

    Sep 23, 2015
    Here's the best nut file I've ever used.

    Use your old strings. Cut them long enough to make a loop on both sides. Crease some 600 or 800 grit sandpaper around the string. Drizzle a little bit of super glue along the crease. When it gets tacky, pull the string down tight into the crease and press the sandpaper around the string. It forms the radius. Cuts better then any of my files to clean up binding slots. Use courser sandpaper to make slots. Here's a picture.

    Attached Files:

  6. Manolete

    Manolete Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2011
    Well it looks like a prison weapon, but if it works it works! Good stuff.

  7. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
    I just got a set of Hosco nut files and am certainly NOT happy!

    After "adjusting" my nut, the "G" string was "swimming" in a slot as wide as the Grand Canyon and I just assumed that it was operator error and had accidentally used the wrong .046" side of the file. So I ordered up some new nut blanks and decided it was time to practice nut cutting.

    Well, the same results and I am absolutely certain that I had used the .017" labeled side of the file and did not rock or angle the file while cutting. Lo and behold, that side of the file cuts a slot that measures between .033" and .036"! Funny thing is that the other .046" side was just about perfect! This tells me that it wasn't simply a matter of someone at the factory putting an incorrectly labeled handle onto a file, but instead, the file itself was improperly machined!

    I really want some top quality nut files, but after extensive research, I'm more confused now than before than before the research. David Collins did a nice write up, above, with pics, etc, but after reading this whole thread, it has left me with no clear choice!

    Any Suggestions And/Or Help?

  8. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 14, 2008
    Marion, NC
    Personally, I believe "there's a tool for every job, and a job for every tool".

    I like my Hiroshima Files Uo-Chikyu Nut Files 6-piece set. The set runs about $65, but the files are specifically designed for the job, and each file is the exact width of the string gauge that I use.

  9. NeilMcG

    NeilMcG TDPRI Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Cambridge, UK
    Sorry to revive an old thread, but you are absolutely correct about the double-sided files being useless. I have tried the Hosco ones (as per the link) and it is simply not possible to cut accurate slots for the 3 thin strings with these files as they cut very over-width in the small sizes. (I sent the set I bought back as not fit for purpose)

    I thought the Stewmac double-sided ones may be better so I bought a single 0.012/0.020 file just to try out and it is also way out. The 12thou side cuts at about 17thou and the 20thou side at 25thou. This is better than the Hosco ones, but still does not cut the size specified.

    In comparison, Uo-Chikyu Nut Files (by Hiroshima Files) cut extremely accurate slots (within 1thou I have found) at the expense of being fiddly to use in the smaller sizes as the files bend easily so need a lot of care. I have used these quite a bit and they work well.
    asnarski likes this.

  10. Steve_U1S

    Steve_U1S Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    Since we're talking here about the Uo-Chikyu files... has anyone had experience with the newer updated versions? They began making the thinner part of the range out of stainless steel.
    When I was acquiring my most recent groups of these to compliment my '9-gauge' set (getting the ones I needed to accurately do 10 and 11 gauge sets) I found that some of them came in as the new stainless versions.
    1 Tusq nut later, and the stainless ones had no teeth left on them where I used them.
    I kid you not; I was wondering why I was having such a tough time using these brand new files for a nut made for 10s... and felt the file cutting edges. Almost featureless.
    And that occurred on 4 of the files I had.
    I was able to return them for refund, but no replacements were available which weren't the updates.
    And since the non-stainless ones are outdated and long used-up in suppliers' inventories, that's what's available now.
    So I wound up ordering the Hosco set of double-sided files to cover me next time I'm doing 10s.
    Now to see the above reports has me feeling dubious about those.
    I'll have to do a test to see what size these are cutting...
    Drat. I should've collected up a whole super-set of the Hiroshima Files ones... they are definitely ideal (just the thin ones need a support mechanism to keep them from flexing; if I had a machine shop, I'd make some simple quick mount handles to do the job.
    As it is, I've whipped up a few popsicle stick type assemblies glued to document clamps for quick clipping on and on... works great.

  11. NeilMcG

    NeilMcG TDPRI Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Cambridge, UK
    That is alarming - were those from ?

    I was just thinking of getting a few more to fill in some gaps in my range too.

    What about the stewmac ones? ( - they may be made by the same people though and the range isn't as wide)

  12. beninma

    beninma Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2017
    I have those single-width Stewmac gauged slot files and they seemed perfect to me.. did two guitars and both came out fantastic, especially given my beginner skills. The price seemed really fair, they basically already paid for themselves. Both guitars have no slop in the slots, I was able to cut the depths exactly where I wanted them, I could open up the back side of the slot if needed, etc.. I did clean up the slots additionally with the special nut wire they sell too.. everything glides really nicely and both guitars tune really well and hold their tune really well.

  13. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    I used the HOSA files on the wound strings but used pull stroke gauged saws from Stew Mac for the unwound strings. Not a bad job...

  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I have a nice set of S-M gauged files. Can't stand 'em, except for minor touch-ups. They bind in bone, for me, even in very shallow slots.

    I switched to these, and am very pleased:

    I was initially concerned that they'd cut a groove that's too V-shaped, because they have teeth on the sides. But it's not a problem. And of course they don't bind at all.

  15. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 27, 2007
    I spent $90 on a set of 6 Hiroshima files, and I'm not regretting it one bit.

    I didn't bother to measure them with my calipers, but they cut easily and cleanly.
    NilsZippo likes this.

  16. Steve_U1S

    Steve_U1S Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    It was through Japarts - and they're great to work with.
    It's not on them that the manufacturer changed the files... I just can't understand why the complaints aren't more wide-spread.
    Also confused as to how a stainless version was delicate compared to the regular tool steel the earlier ones were made from. But the proof was in my hands, and Japarts didn't dispute it whatsoever.
    I highly recommend Japarts - just not the newer version Ou-Chikyu files.

    I had wondered about the ones StewMac has... but what I found is that the sizes aren't as complete in range as the Hiroshima Files ones - bigger gaps between the sizes.... and my goal had been to get away from the need to roll the files to get the other sizes.

  17. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Holic

    May 7, 2015
    i use the harbor freight gas jet cleaners. I don't usually cut a nut from scratch, I just modify my existing slots, seems to work well for my needs. I'm usually using graphite/graphtech nuts, not bone.

    I also bought a bag - .25 ounce or so of diamond dust, to try gluing to old pieces of strings to use them as files. Haven't had a chance to try that out yet. industrial diamond dust was less than 20$ from china courtesy ebay. Figured I could also use it for polishing things as well.

    If I was a luthier and building repairing guitars all day, I'd buy the expensive files. But I aint, so I don't.

  18. NeilMcG

    NeilMcG TDPRI Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Cambridge, UK
    I'm surprised they work on the thinner strings. As I said, I tried the 12/20 file on a bone blank and the 12 slot was too wide for a 10thou E and 13thou B - they moved side-to-side very obviously. The 20 was even worse on a 17thou unwound G.

    I could imagine they may just about be ok on a Gibson, or something else with a large break angle over the nut, but I can't see how they are usable on a Fender.
    GaryRanson likes this.

  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I've tediously crafted many nuts where the slots are precisely sized for the strings, just a thou over. And then have to deal with binding and pinching, even with a well-carved nut, even on a straight pull headstock. Between this, and the fact that I routinely switch up the string gauges on some guitars, these days I don't sweat a few thousandths on the slot sizing. Ideally these files would come graduated in .005 increments, but they don't. The worst is often the B string, with the large gap between .012 and .020. I might use a .015 razor saw on that one. A .012 slot for a .010 high E string? Perfect. :)
    NilsZippo likes this.

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