Home made nut files from hack saw blades?

Cam

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As I recall some old tech threads suggestions, has anyone ever made nut files by grinding/filing fine hack saw blades to the necessary widths? Home hackery curious! No cringing allowed eh!
 

ChicknPickn

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I've made my own "saws" by cutting teeth into automotive feeler gauges.
Think the whole set was like $5 at Autozone
I heard of this and tried it. Decided it's a good "making do" Macgyver hack. But I own good files now, which I'll never regret buying. Good nut work is just too important. A true nut file will round the bottom of the cut.

nut_cutting.png
Lutherie.net
 
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schmee

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As I recall some old tech threads suggestions, has anyone ever made nut files by grinding/filing fine hack saw blades to the necessary widths? Home hackery curious! No cringing allowed eh!
I dont see why not if you have a surface grinder.
 
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Lost_N_Austin

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I have StewMac files - $100.00 bucks. Ouch"

The big difference is the saw tooth and feeler gauge homemade solution will leave a "squared" bottom on the groove. The stew-macs leave a groove of the appropriate width and a mating surface which will match the string guage. The depth with be supported properly and stay that way longer.

Lost_N_Austin
 
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DocHelliday

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I heard of this and tried it. Decided it's a good "making do" Macgyver hack. But I own good files now, which I'll never regret buying. Good nut work is just too important. A true nut file will round the bottom of the cut.
It worked for my application, which was deepening slots in a floating "classical" plastic style bridge replacement for my Danelectro Convertible's HORRID slidey-scratchy fret wire bridge
 
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schmee

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I have StewMac files - $100.00 bucks. Ouch"

The big difference is the saw tooth and feeler gauge homemade solution will leave a "squared" bottom on the groove. The stew-macs leave a groove of the appropriate width and a mating surface which will match the string guage. The depth with be supported properly and stay that way longer.

Lost_N_Austin
I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just as good, maybe less prone to buzz. nutslot (2).jpg
 

Cyberi4n

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I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just as good, maybe less prone to buzz. View attachment 1036812
Well, when you put it like that…
 

ChicknPickn

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I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just

I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just as good, maybe less prone to buzz. View attachment 1036812
To me, this graphic shows exactly why you DO want a rounded cut.

You have two force lines - - vertical and lateral. Most people who have cut a nut, I'll wager, will say that cutting the width of the slot perfectly is not probable. And the luthier how-To's I've seen suggested using a file "two ticks" wider than the string.

In the case of the square cut, lateral movement in a slot that is not the exact width of the string can result in buzz. But the vertical force in the rounded cut holds the string in the bottom of the channel so that lateral force can only roll the string upward, and not buzz with side-to-side vibration.
 

Steve Holt

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I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just as good, maybe less prone to buzz. View attachment 1036812


You make a really valid point there. Especially if you consider than any time you press a string down on a fret it looks like this. No radius matching there.

1664996443077.png
 

Timbresmith1

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I often wonder if 'matching the radius' is a good thing?
Some thoughts:

-On a micro level it's pretty much impossible.
-If truly matching the radius IS your goal, you need a nut file for every single string size from .008 to .056 (about 40 files ought to do it)
- An "almost" matched radius is possibly a worse situation, allowing buzzing in the gap.
-A Zero Fret has nothing other than a flat fret to sit on..... just like whenever you play up the neck!
-Very few (if any?) bridges match the string radius. Why isn't that end important if the nut end is important?
-Possibly a square bottomed slot is just as good, maybe less prone to buzz. View attachment 1036812
The square bottom will wear faster as the wound strings are tuned. All of that string pressure concebtrated on a very small surface area… Frets don’t have that problem.
 

schmee

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To me, this graphic shows exactly why you DO want a rounded cut.

You have two force lines - - vertical and lateral. Most people who have cut a nut, I'll wager, will say that cutting the width of the slot perfectly is not probable. And the luthier how-To's I've seen suggested using a file "two ticks" wider than the string.

In the case of the square cut, lateral movement in a slot that is not the exact width of the string can result in buzz. But the vertical force in the rounded cut holds the string in the bottom of the channel so that lateral force can only roll the string upward, and not buzz with side-to-side vibration.

You make a really valid point there. Especially if you consider than any time you press a string down on a fret it looks like this. No radius matching there.

View attachment 1036876

The square bottom will wear faster as the wound strings are tuned. All of that string pressure concebtrated on a very small surface area… Frets don’t have that problem.
All good thoughts.
 

Boreas

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I don't attempt to match the exact radius or the width of the slot. I tend to leave both a tad loose. With a radiused bottom, the string will always center. If the string matches the radius and slot width TOO perfectly, it will likely bind.
 
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Freeman Keller

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I just simply use the next gauge file that is at least 2 thousands bigger than the fattest string I will ever put in the slot. On an electric guitar which I will string with 10's I would file it to 12 thousands. On an acoustic that might get 13's I would file to 15 or 16. I also like to roll the back side of the slot so the string exits smoothly to the tuner and I try not to bury the string too deeply in the slot. Otherwise I honestly don't worry about them and never have issues.
 
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old_picker

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This is a no brainer. I charge about the cost of a set of files to cut, shape, fit and slot a nut from a bone blank.
A well cut nut is the heart and soul of a great playing guitar. I use a set of maybe 10 slotting files to complete the most critical part of making or adjusting a nut which is cutting the slots to depth. My file set covers all the popular string gauges and have been in constant use for over 15 years. Rarely a guitar will come onto my bench and not need the slots adjusted or a new nut installed. Obviously over time individual files have been replaced.

If you intend learning to work on nuts, a decent set of nut files is a small investment which will pay for itself time and time again. Attempting to use tools that were never made to do the job may be satisfying but I'm betting that less than satisfactory results will usually be obtained.

Boreas and Freeman Keller are spot on with the contributions directly above this post.
 

oldunc

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I have StewMac files - $100.00 bucks. Ouch"

The big difference is the saw tooth and feeler gauge homemade solution will leave a "squared" bottom on the groove. The stew-macs leave a groove of the appropriate width and a mating surface which will match the string guage. The depth with be supported properly and stay that way longer.

Lost_N_Austin
You can round the bottoms of the larger slots with a piece of a wound string- tedious, but that's what nut work is all about..
 

dsutton24

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This is such a weird place sometimes. One thread will go on about floofy tone caps that cost a day's wages, and the next will explore hacking out nuts with a lawn mower blade and a pipe wrench. Torch tip cleaners and feeler gages aren't much better.

My advice is to spend your money where it counts, nut, bridge, frets, strings, neck. These things have a big impact on sound and playability.
 

bullfrogblues

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I understand a lot of folks need to watch their pennies and opt for much cheaper solutions for getting some tasks done. It's nice if you're able to purchase the best tools the first time, I've been very fortunate in that aspect, but some people don't have that luxury.
 




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