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Nut file sizes

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by coolcat2, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. coolcat2

    coolcat2 TDPRI Member

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    My birthday is coming up and I decided to get some nut files so I can replace some cheap nuts with bone. After all my research, I've decided to go with the Stew Mac gauged nut files but I'm still a little confused on the sizes to get. This will mostly be for electric with size 10 strings. I was wanting to get 5 files plus a 0.010 gauged saw to start the slots. I also plan to get the string spacing ruler and was wanting opinions on their nut and saddle vise as well. So opinions on which set would work best?

    1) 0.013, 0.016, 0.028, 0.035, 0.046 This seems to be the closest to the sizes of a set of 10 strings.

    2) 0.016, 0.020, 0.028, 0.042, 0.050 This is a little bigger than a set of 10 strings but I read it is better to go 0.003-0.006 larger for the slots.

    Can I get away with files from the hardware store to shape the nut or should I also get their nut shaping file set? Thanks for any help. I want to do this right.
     
  2. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    No doubt you're going to get lots of opinions on cheaper ways to get the job done, but let me say this: I have never regretted purchasing a good tool, even if there's a cheaper version that's almost as good. There are a handful of things in the StewMac catalog that are rebadged tools from other industries with a steep markup, but having someone else research what works and then being able to get it from one source does have some value.

    Option 1 is closest to what I use. The E, B, and G strings can have problems if the slot is more than about .003 larger than the string, while the wound strings can manage with more extra room. I'd get the .020" file as well, and step your files for the A and E strings up one.

    The shaping files are good, but not necessary. You can do just as good of a job with a standard hardware store set.

    The nut and saddle vise is good as well and I use mine quite a bit, but for the longest time I just worked on the nut while it was installed in the guitar. It saves me some time, but is not necessary.
     
  3. justrfb

    justrfb TDPRI Member

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    I firmly agree with KokoTele... I would go same size and definitely not more than 3 mils (0.003") over on any of the strings but most certainly, on the treble side. I also learned that the correct tool makes all the difference and nut files are a prime example of that thought... Good luck and happy birthday to you.

    Sincerely,
    Rich
     
  4. Tommyboy

    Tommyboy Tele-Holic

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    Yes, any good quality file from the harware store will work fine for shaping the nut.

    Regarding the individual nut files, I used to use the Stew-Mac nut files you are inquiring about but a couple of years ago I started using a set of Japan-made double-sided nut files. I like them much better because they cut a tapered, V-shaped slot that is rounded on the bottom.
     
  5. coolcat2

    coolcat2 TDPRI Member

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    That is what I have been struggling with. The double sided file vs the single gauged file. It seems like more people prefer the single gauged file. I thought the double sided file did v bottoms and not round. Which set do you have?
     
  6. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    The double-sided files do cut a rounded slot, but they aren't available in the gauges that best match a 10-46 set of strings. Stew Mac's files also cut a rounded slot, but it's not as perfectly round. I don't think it matters too much.

    I don't think the V shape groove is of any advantage. When I make my nuts, I shape them so that the top of the nut is about even with the top of the string.
     
  7. BUILTACASTER

    BUILTACASTER TDPRI Member

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    Be careful with those thinner files when you use them. They can snap easily. Get something for reinforcement before you use them. Glue some brass on the top half of both sides or something like that.
     
  8. stinky

    stinky TDPRI Member

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    The double-sided v-style files will do fine and may really be the best, simplest solution in general. I have the gauged ones and they work fine but you really don't need that many options.

    You can go ahead and file any slot (yep, treble strings too) as much as .006" larger than the string size without any problems. Too much time spent on guitar forums will have you believing that nut-making is some kind of voodoo science but it's really rather simple and easy. The hardest things to learn are getting the spacing consistent and not filing too deep.

    The nut/saddle vise is a nice thing to have and one of those rare tools from stewcrack that is only mildly over-priced.

    I have those files and they're nice and all, but not THAT nice. Also I think they're too narrow. When I first started making nuts I used to use those little x-acto saws to rough the slots in before filing but they don't save you any time and aren't any more accurate. You can remove all but a small amount of material before starting the slots so as to leave yourself less filing.
     
  9. coolcat2

    coolcat2 TDPRI Member

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  10. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes antique electronic supply (tubesandmore.com) has the Hasco set (also on backorder): http://www.tubesandmore.com/products/S-T212-E.

    They're perfect for a set of .010's. I also like the heavier center portion of the tool that doesn't bend like the individual gauged files (I also have those).

    Sounds dumb, but you do want to cut some test slots and label the tool edges to make sure you know which side cuts what.
     
  12. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    If your files are snapping or binding, then you're not spending enough time shaping the blank first. If you do it right, you won't have to file deeper than the diameter of the string. It takes some practice, and even after doing man, many nuts, I still don't get the rough shaping right on the first try. The end result is better when I stop and shape the blav\nk a little more instead of just charging away with the file.
     
  13. Tommyboy

    Tommyboy Tele-Holic

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