Nut blank roughing

highwaycat

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There’s always bone dust when making one.
I use a wet belt sander with appropriate belt.
I keep my shop vac close by throughout.
You can use razor files to cut down on smoke. Rub some mineral oil on the saw to reduce dust.
You can use a 10” double cut bastard file.
Get calipers and a slab countertop scrap, granite corian.
Use something as a fence to line sand.
Try making another nut then re examine. Just do it a few times since you’re still getting the hang of developing your work flow.
I make nuts many different ways so a tutorial is not ideal, but if you give it a couple shots we can take it from there. You just gatta jump into it then you’ll develop your own ways.
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Freeman Keller

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As I was scrolling down I was thinking that I was going to post the very same thing, pencil line and all, until I saw your post, now I'm just piling on.

I would go crazy sanding down nut and saddle blanks if it wasn't for the belt sander.

I see you're using unbleached bone. I just like the way it looks all vintage-y even if the vintage ones weren't. Yours in the pic is really yellow - the unbleached bone from StewMac is less yellow - more gray-brown tinted, I guess.

I do buy most of my nut and saddle blanks from StewMac or LMII and I like to keep a stock of both bleached and unbleached for whatever comes along. I can pick thru the pile to find the right color for a given guitar, the one in my picture was going to be the 12 string nut on a double neck. Its really not as yellow as in the previous picture, just not the glaring white of many bleached ones. If it was a real vintage guitar I would select one that was darker.

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I have power tools. I am looking for a solution that doesn't involve 120db tools that throw bone dust all over the house. I think two saw cuts and start filing are probably the way to rough the profile

That is a noble goal but I can say that neither my band saw nor my belt sander puts out 120 db. Both have dust connections to my shop vac, there is some dust in the air but not bad. I wear a dust mask whenever I do any sanding that might be dusty - bone or any other material.

As much as I like working with hand tools (my pandemic challenge was to build a classical with only hand tools) I do use them when I think it makes sense.
 

Solaris moon

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I've been making my own nuts from bone and brass, aluminum and sometimes even wood (violins) and whatever other hard materials I can find including Corian. The easiest way that I know to shape in a short amount of time is to sand with 60 grit sandpaper glued to a popcicle stick. I use the wider tongue depressor type that you can buy at Hobby Lobby. Glue two or three of these together with superglue. I superglue the sandpaper to the stick. You want to buy an eraser to keep the bone dust to a minimum. I use double faced tape to hold the nut blank down and shape it for my radius on a table top. If you don't want to use a table or if you find that impractical you can double face tape your nut to a wooden stick and hold it in your hand while you shape.

You can use an X-acto saw to split the blank lengthwise if it's oversized. This is the easiest and fastest way that I can think of to get rid of excess material from bone or wood. I use a rasp file for rough shaping metal. It doesn't clog as easily. I follow the 60 grit with 120 then, 220, 320, 400, and finally 600 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper for a smooth polished look. Then I put it on with a little bit of Elmer's glue and wait for about an hour for it to dry. Then I put the strings on it and mark where they need to go. I fine tune and polish the edges of the string slots so that this doesn't hang them up. Although my experience may be different than yours your mileage may vary or as some say (YMMV). I hope that this helps in some way.
 

guitarbuilder

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You can set up a drum sander on a drill press along with a fence to thickness sand a wide nut to a narrower nut. You can use a pushstick to push the nut against the rotation. You don't want it to fly out at you. Wear a dust mask.

I have used double sided carpet tape to stick bone to a carrier board and run it through my thickness sander as well. Holding your bone nut by the fingers is dicey and you can almost bet you'll sand your fingers sooner or later.


I made a sanding block with scrap wood and a new short sanding belt. That can be clamped in a vise and nut sanded along a fence also clamped to the belt to get things squared up. Plenty of ways to do this.
 

jfgesquire

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Depends on the batch, I think. Most of the unbleached ones I get from StewMac are quite yellow.
This picture is of nuts in my stash.

From top to bottom

Unbleached Gibson size from StewMac (I think that the color is awful, which is why it's still in the stash)

Unbleached Fender blank, StewMac

Unbleached generic blank, StewMac

Bleached generic blank, Amazon

Cyclovac, Fender

Nubone

Tusq

Plastic

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highwaycat

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I think he has a blank that looks like you can almost get a second nut but you can’t.
I rubbed some mineral oil on a cheap razor saw, each cut took 10-20 seconds very little dust. I think op should try this way. I did a minute with a 10” file but I need to file the back angle, I don’t finish the nut here I continue roughing in the setup. I then strobe tune the guitar and let the guitar settle overnight.
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swarfrat

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I just ordered a permagrit block long enough to roll on (11"). Love the stuff. I had tried to come up with some sort of long compass sanding jig. But I think even just printing a concave 7.5" radius sanding jig might be helpful.
 

trev333

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I just clamp the blank in my drilling vise level with a line and whizz the excess off with a flap wheel/4" grinder flat to the top... takes a few seconds... same with the top curve, free hand it on my grinder wheel by pinching it carefully to save skin..;)

then sand on a flat surface with different papers... often on my table here at the pc...
 

Deeve

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Just to clarify - these ARE the 0.14 blanks (nominal - they're actually 0.15in and trust me - if you're sanding an extra 0.01 counts)
It's still a ton of sanding. They're almost tall enough to get two out of if you split down the middle - but not quite.
Word, bruh

Same thing w/ saddle blank I'm planning to use for a 60s era Japan Victoria nylon folk - just a little thinner than two credit cards.
I'd rather not waste so much material to get the little sliver I need...
:confused:
 

eallen

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I get you arent interested in power tools & avoiding the smell & dust. As cheap as generic nuts are the correct width for out $5-6 for a handful & it will save the time in money quickly.

I have bought bone nuts from the luthier supply places, SM, LMII...& have bought off Amazon & other places. Here is what I have found different between them. The price! I grew up butchering cattle, hogs, chickens, deer...& sure enough, they all have bones! They can vary in hardness between animal type but significantly in animal health based on how much calcium they got. I say that to say, you really don't know until you get them. I generally buy buffalo bone blanks now days for the distinct reason I like the way it sounds when I say it.🤪 Are they buffalo bone? I have no idea but at least I can claim they are.

If thicknessing with power tools I made a jig years ago that I use on every nut build with my Ross belt sander. Carpet tape them on & turn the knob to move it closer to the belt. Doesn't matter if it is close or I am making them from scratch they thin to where needed in no time. I also set the nut on a board with zero clearance to the belt to shape them.
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old wrench

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Nice jig ^^^ Eric !!!


Lots of good suggestions and ideas in this thread -

Here is kind of a neat idea for someone who doesn't have much in the way of power tools and might be interested in fabbing-up a hand-powered nut work-station - PLS sells the diamond-coated sandpaper that is used with this gizmo -


It would be pretty easy to make one up out of hardwood or plastic composite

With the proliferation of 3-D printers, it might be an easy little project to print up, but I really don't know enough about 3-D printers to know if printing one would be practical or not

.
 
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highwaycat

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I just ordered a permagrit block long enough to roll on (11"). Love the stuff. I had tried to come up with some sort of long compass sanding jig. But I think even just printing a concave 7.5" radius sanding jig might be helpful.
Are talking about sanding the bottom of the nut? I use a spare cheap neck I sanded with a leveling beam no frets. But most of the time I just put sandpaper on a fingerboard most common way.
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swarfrat

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Practical is rarely a consideration with 3D printers in my experience. In coming generations they won't say "When all you have is a hammer...." they're going to say "If you have a 3D printer, the whole world looks like a print" - until you can't print it without supports, or the print fails for bed adhesion, undersized holes, surface quality, layer adhesion, z-wobble, etc...
 

swarfrat

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No. I'm dealing with flat bottom nuts. I find if I start slotting before I get close to the final outside radius the slots tend to wander a bit, and quickly get too deep for the hosco V files. I'm talking about getting the top of the nut close enough to start slotting.

Slot depth on my warmoth necks is 3.6mm, 1.36mm 6th string and a 1.0mm feet height. So I made it 7mm from the bottom of the slot to the top of the crown at the fingerboard edge.
 

StoneH

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I've only made one acoustic saddle from a blank. I thought it was going to take hours, then I remembered my Work Sharp knife sharpener. It only took me minutes to get the saddle into near finished shape. It is obviously not for getting a final flat surface, but I wasn't worried about losing the skin on my fingers either.

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swarfrat

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Practical is rarely a consideration with 3D printers in my experience. In coming generations they won't say "When all you have is a hammer...." they're going to say "If you have a 3D printer, the whole world looks like a print" - until you can't print it without supports, or the print fails for bed adhesion, undersized holes, surface quality, layer adhesion, z-wobble, etc...
 




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