Cutting and Shaping a Nut Blank

Skydog1010

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What's your method for cutting and shaping a bone nut blank? So, if you start with this...

View attachment 1016118

...what do you do to get it into its final form?

My method, so far, has been to trim the blank to the length I want by placing it in a vise and using a flush cut saw. I then use a sander to shape it further, such as rounding over the top for a non-Fender style nut. I usually mark it with a Sharpie so that I don't over-sand. Once I've got the shape like I want it, I cut the slots with a nut file. I've put together some templates for standard nut slot positions, including ones for my cigar box builds with 2 to 4 strings. I try to cut the slots to less than their final level so that I can remove additional material once it's mounted on the target guitar.
It:s an art form as far as I am concerned.
I've seen some folks actually use the string as their slot file.

I have a complete set of the proper tools for nuts and a set (large assortment from StewMac and other sources) for fret's.

Bah!

I used to enjoy "working" on them a bunch, now closing up on 70 years old, I'm interested in playing more than anything else. Old grumpy geezer, shouldn't have even posted anything on this thread. Sorry.
 

bgmacaw

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It:s an art form as far as I am concerned.
I've seen some folks actually use the string as their slot file.

I have a complete set of the proper tools for nuts and a set (large assortment from StewMac and other sources) for fret's.

Bah!

I used to enjoy "working" on them a bunch, now closing up on 70 years old, I'm interested in playing more than anything else. Old grumpy geezer, shouldn't have even posted anything on this thread. Sorry.

I guess it is like sculpting or woodcarving in a way, you cut away everything that doesn't look like a nut.

One thing that's always helped me in learning something is to being able to repeat it and get feedback, either from myself or others, on the results. As I mentioned, that's why I like cigar box type guitars because I've learned a lot building them without spending a lot on pricey tools right off the bat or potentially wasting expensive materials. If I mess up a nut or frets on one of them I'm not out $100's.

Many of us here are grumpy old geezers and it's always good to hear differing opinions and experiences.
 

bobio

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I have installed quite a few pre-slotted bone and Graph Tech Tusk nut blanks on Fender guitars.
I have also done my fair share of fixing and adjusting poorly cut nuts.
Admittedly, I have yet to make a nut from scratch. A skill I hope to work on.

I have started using the Stewmac Safe Slot Nut Guard for adjusting the slots. Love It! 🥰
Of course a good set of files. I have a couple of sets of Stewmac files, favorites are the DiamondCut set.


1796-1-1800.jpg


2325-1-3000.jpg

There are just soo many sources for pre-slotted nut blanks that save time and energy.
Takes less time for me to fit them and adjust the nut slots than it would to start from scratch.
Maybe when I am retired I can be like the old gentleman rocking on the front porch whittling away :)

I just ordered a couple of nut blanks from Bitterroot Guitars for my Les Paul.

20220701_181658281_iOS.jpg

I have ordered quite a few Fender style nuts from John and they have been great.

Not sure what material Gibson is using, looks plastic. The nut is also not cut well.
Rather than mess with it, I am going to replace it and set the slots to my liking.


109238-2.jpg
 
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bgmacaw

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There are just soo many sources for pre-slotted nut blanks that save time and energy.

Building cigar box guitars is what got me into cutting my own. I started out using threaded rods but there were some issues with using them. I still usually use pre-cut and slotted ones when I want to replace a nut on a "real" guitar.
 




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