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

What do you use as a nut files for 10 & 13 guage (.25mm & .33mm) strings?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by DugT, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    I got a set of welding tip cleaners for filing nut slots to lower the action at the nut but the smallest file is to big for the smallest two strings. Is there a good source of those for the 1st and 2nd strings, 10 & 13 guage (.25mm and .33mm) or is there a Macgyver solution to the problem?
  2. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Try using .010" and .013" nut files...

    Hosco makes 'em, as well as StewMac.
    MickM, DugT and TeleTucson like this.
  3. fraser

    fraser Tele-Holic

    Sep 8, 2007
    Hamilton, Canada
    I bought the stew Mac ones for the first 3 strings, they last years if you look after them, worth the price in the long run. I’ve used those 3 files for like 12 years and they are still like new.
    For the larger gauges I use needle files. Because I can make those work without problem.
    I use Welding torch tip cleaners for fine tuneing or smoothing nut slots, not very efficient at cutting slots.

    Nut work is tedious for me, those stew Mac files were a necessary investment as far as I’m concerned.
    DugT and WingedWords like this.
  4. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Meister

    Jun 4, 2010
    A MacGyver solution is an xacto or similar craft saw set which starts at 0.010". Folded fine sandpaper for smoothing.
  5. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    Thanks for the replies. I should have mentioned that I just need the files for fine tuning the slots in Tusq nuts. (I never use Tusq ovaries.)
    wmsimpson and Steve_U1S like this.
  6. BelairPlayer

    BelairPlayer Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 22, 2010
    Another vote for proper nut files. A trivial investment for a tool that does exactly what it's designed to do.

    Welding tip cleaners are fantastic also...for cleaning welding tips.

    Horses for courses.
    DugT likes this.
  7. Scotty D

    Scotty D TDPRI Member

    Oct 28, 2018
    I use StewMac 0010 & 0016 nut files and wrap 1000 grit sand paper around them to get the slot smooth, slightly wider than the string and square shaped at the bottom. I need to wear a headband magnifier when doing this cause it’s a delicate process
    DugT likes this.
  8. Tuxedo Poly

    Tuxedo Poly Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 19, 2011
    Merseyside UK
    BorderRadio and DugT like this.
  9. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

    Dec 18, 2016
    Camden Point, MO
    My hands shake enough these days that I can use files several thousandths undersized and still be ok :eek:
    kingofdogs1950, DugT and SPUDCASTER like this.
  10. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    I agree that some kind of magnification is very helpful for this. a headband magnifier sounds ideal. I have been using a loupe. In the past I have considered getting a heaset magnifier and I think I will consider it again.
  11. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    Would it be a good idea to get undersized nut files to compensate for hand wobble and to allow for the thickness of sandpaper?
    Nickadermis likes this.
  12. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
    Be very careful with sand paper! The wet/dry I have is 0.007" so doubled over is 0.014" and my regular dry only paper is 0.011". Doubled over a file, the slots could be like the Grand Canyon!
    Just Sayin'
    wmsimpson, DugT and Nickadermis like this.
  13. Steve_U1S

    Steve_U1S Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    (Shout out for "Tusq ovaries..." - lol; needed that today...)
    DugT likes this.
  14. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    I use the .013 Stew Mac for both
  15. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    I'm going to use a single sided razor blade. Mine are .010" thick which is as thin as any of Stew Mac's nut files. I will file off the edge of the blade. Then I will use a file to round the edge of the blade. Then, using a dremel tool with grinding disc, I will cut sections of the new edge and then file off the burs. That should work to saw the slot deeper for the skinny E string. To polish it without making the slot too wide, I will wrap fine sand paper over a fresh sharp razor blade. For the B string I will use a similar process.

    I would buy Stew Mac nut files if I was working with blank nuts or if I was working with Tusq nuts more than once every year or two. Also, I would be more likely to buy a Stew Mac nut file if they made a thinner file or if I wasn't so cheap or if I didn't enjoy Macgyver solutions.
  16. elpico

    elpico Tele-Holic

    Sep 14, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    I've used a .017" fret saw for both. I'm not sure making the slot the same width as the string is even something you'd want to do? Sounds like a recipe for binding and tuning issues, plus you can't change gauges down the road. I can't see or feel any movement of a .010 string in the the .017 slot at all, but YMMV.
    MickM, DugT and moosie like this.
  17. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010

    A properly constructed slot has several other attributes, all more critical than width, IMO. I readily go .004-006 over the string thickness, without a second thought.
    MickM and DugT like this.
  18. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    I was wondering if a wider slot would make much difference and why, unless the string wouldn't return to the same spot during tuning and bends. As long as the slot width is a little wider than a string, the string shouldn't bind in a Tusq nut. Another thing to consider is it is much easier to make a narrow slot wider than to make a wide slot narrower.

    Someone mentioned that a square slot works fine. One possible advantage of a square slot is lubricant could stick in the corners and seep onto the strings to keep them lubed. That is a wild guess and could be wishful thinking.

    I think I will try my razor blade method and use sandpaper over the blade to widen if necessary. I'm retired and have all the time in the world to get the job done right. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up buying nut files eventually but in the mean time I think my MacGyver blade is worth a try.
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    2-sided nut files are a good way to go and not overly expensive. I have a Hosco 10/26 that covers the 10, and a 12/10 I can use for the 13 - you can tweak a thousandth up with a smaller file - just not the other way.

    You'd be surprised not just by the time savings but the precision in your setups. If you do setups on anybody else's guitars it's worth it - and for experienced players that are also knowledgable techs there's just no substitute for the right tools.
    DugT and moosie like this.
  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    A slightly wider slot, rounded bottom. The string will remain at the bottom. It's under tension, remember.

    A flat bottom will allow the string to wear multiple grooves, and that will definitely cause pinching issues.
    DugT likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.