Help create an FAQ for nut files

Questions about tools and jigs you want to buy/build/modify.
Darrel Friesen
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Darrel Friesen »

I use the "Hiroshima" gauged files that I got from Lmi I believe. These are excellent files but pricey at around 12.00 each.

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Greg Robinson
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Greg Robinson »

I have both all the gauged nut files and the double edged nut files available from Stewart MacDonald. I do repairs for a living, so I wanted all of the available widths, and both sets cover some gauges the other doesn't. I use both, but prefer the gauged ones, they're smaller and are easier for me to work with around strings (although that might be a negative for people with joint issues), and lighter so you're less likely to file to quickly and deeply. Also, the double edged files are hardened, while the gauged are tempered, so the double edged ones will chip if dropped, ruining them. No such problems with the gauged files. This is important for a clutz like me!
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Tom Clift
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Tom Clift »

Seems to me that the important questions have already been answered. After "Do I need?" and "Can I use.......", what else is there?

Mark Wybierala
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Mark Wybierala »

Purpose built nut files are not an option if you want to get expedient and professional results time after time. The different files offered can perform differently, some requiring a specific touch to get the optimal result. Additionally, these files will wear over time and perform differently from when they were new. You need good files in hand that operate in a manner that you expect time after time. Setting up nut slots is one of the quickest processes to improve the playability of a premanufactured guitar. Its a big bang for the buck in time spent on the guitar. Short cutting this process with less than optimal tools is just not a good idea considering the precision needed and the positive outcome that can be appreciated.

As this is an FAQ with a lot of info about additional fret slotting issues, I'll add that the bone dust or baking soda and CA fix can work but its not a quality fix. If faced with a slot that is too deep and for whatever reason you do not want to replace the nut, a superior and more permanent fix is to use a quality 4-corner jewelers file and cut a "vee" deeper than the existing slot and superglue a donor piece of bone or corian with a 90 degree corner into the "vee". It can be from a relatively large chunck making it easier to avoid gluing your fingers to the nut. Then it just becomes a matter of shaping the donor piece to match the contour of the nut and cutting a fresh slot. Both bone and corian hold very well with CA.

Another one for you FAQ... Dupont will sell individual 4" X 4" X 3/8" samples of corian in an abundance of shades of white from thier corian website for a price that will never have you purchasing a corian nut ever again.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Michael Lewis »

Another method of repairing a nut slot that is too deep is to cut it deeper and fit a piece of like material snugly into the slot and CA glue it in place. Again, trim the excess material and recut the slot to proper depth. This method leaves very little visual evidence that a repair has been done and the string resting on the same material as the rest of the nut.

Matthew Lau
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Matthew Lau »

I took this for granted, until I heard about this "secret nut fix" from Lewis Santer and Michi Matsuda.

Ask your dentist for any expired composite. Buy some crappy bonding agent (the 3 stem stuff lasts forever and is the gold standard). Glop some composite into the nut slot and shape it to fit. Let the stuff cure under UV (they just use sunlight, I use a high intensity curing light).

Recap:
1. etch bone with 27% phosphoric acid. Rinse with water and dry.
2. Apply bonding agent of choice. Light cure.
3. Apply composite. Shape. Light cure.

Nut is good to go!

Bob Hammond
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Hammond »

I mentioned this a while ago. This has worked for me. The method is cheap enough so that you can try it and decide if you disagree.

Materials:

A 6" length of a guitar string held in a jeweler's saw.

A tube of silicon carbide automotive valve-grinding compound.

A vise and a pencil.

Procedures:

Put the nut blank in the vise. Mark the string location with the pencil. Put on a dab of valve-grinding compound. Saw away with the string. Stop when the groove is deep enough. Take the blank to the sink and wash away the grit & oil.

Chad McCormack
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Chad McCormack »

Can we please address proper sizing of nut files? It is known that an undersized file can be "rocked" to accommodate a slightly larger string gauge, but it is also known that you can go a little (how much?) larger than your string gauge and be perfectly fine as long as your slots are properly shaped (round bottom, downhill, etc.). Pros chime in, please!!!

Bob Hammond
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Hammond »

Chad, your comment stimulates some thought. Like most things in this craft, my method maybe won't work for everybody or for you, but I did forget to mention that one should chuck up a suitably sized string in the sawframe to cut the 'right-sized' groove. Just give it a try. But now, instead of using an oil-borne valve-grinding compound, I'll try using grinding/polishing compounds that are usually used with a linen buffing wheel. They come in several grits in a semi-solid stick form and aren't messy. First, I'll try stroking the mounted string over the compound stick and try the technique on scrap.

Bob Strawn
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Strawn »

To make a superior precision nut file make a float. This method requires the use of a steel string you plan to match the size to, a flat surface, sandpaper, a vise with a flat surface, a small cut off wheel or file, and a cheap butcher knife. I use a stainless steel one from the dollar store.

Grip the string in the vise, firmly but gently so that you have a gap at the top the sized of the string. Now shape the butcher knife. Get rid of the curve forward and back, round the edge and thin the blade to where it is just thin enough to squeeze into the vise gap. At one end of the blade, grind a couple of inches on the edge back to a v.

Once you have a good profile on the edge, cut a few notches in the blade so it will have a nice scraping action as you use it to file the notch.

The sharper V section is to start the cut, the rounded section is to shape the notch. The butcher knife shape gives you a long profile to help keep the float straight up and down.

Be sure to label your new nut float.

Bob

Mark Wybierala
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Mark Wybierala »

As a professional doing this for a living, I couldn't do what I do without purpose manufactured nut files. About 95% of the time, I'm using the stewmac double-edge nut file set with the different colored handles that I purchased about 16 years ago. I haven't seen anything that I would consider to be better. Unfortunately, they are now quite an expensive purchase.

I very much would like to offer group lessons for guitar maintenance and setups. My idea would be to have a sign up fee that would include the cost of providing a good basic set of tools but the cost of the nut files puts the cost of a basic tool kit out of reach for the idea to move forward. Until I find a set of reasonable nut files that is significantly less expensive, the idea of classes is on the back burner -- its a shame. ...be a nice way to make a few extra dollars.

When nut slots are too deep, I consider one of three options. On an inexpensive guitar, I'll try to pop off the nut and put a shim under the entire nut and recut the slots. Next, if the nut is made from corian, bone or something other than cheap plastic, I may consider using a 3 or 4-corner jewelers file to cut a vee slightly deeper than the slot and insert a piece of donor material bonding it in place with CA. Lastly, I'll replace the nut. I did the CA and baking soda thing for a few years and I just don't like the result.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Barry Daniels »

I have never been happy with the baking soda/CA glue technique either.

I may have to try out the light cure technology. Matthew, would one of the battery powered light units they sell all over eBay or Amazon work for this? Where do you get the 3 Stem bonding agent?
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David King
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by David King »

There are lots of S3 bonding agents, some with "self-etching" on eBay. Amazon also usually caries a good selection of dentist supplies.

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Bob Gramann
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Gramann »

So, I just ordered a curing light, a self-etching bonding agent, and some a3 light-curing resin from ebay all the while joking with my wife about how much we’re going to save from now on on dentistry. I hope this works. It will save me from remaking a lot of nuts (I only did bone dust, baking soda, and CA for an emergency fix). I’m delighted that we can get the stuff but amazed at the same time.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Barry Daniels »

Is this a battery operated curing light? If so, I will be interested in how it works for you.
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Bob Gramann
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Gramann »

“Cordless”— That’s the way they come. I hope it works. It would be nice if this stuff worked well enough that we could talk StewMac into providing it so we’d have a reliable (if not cheap) supply. Anyway, that’s my dream until I get it and try it out.

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Bob Gramann
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Gramann »

I have obtained all of the parts and run the experiment. Unqualified success! From ebay: the blue dental curing light - $20, Optibond S Total etch - $30, A3 light curing resin - $20. From Home Depot: 1 gallon Etch and Prepare (phosphoric acid) - $16. When I ordered the Optibond, I mistakenly thought that the “Total etch” meant that the first step with the phosphoric acid etch was unnecessary. The directions said otherwise. When I tried the process without, I got one experiment that chipped off and one that was intact. I wanted something I could trust not to come apart later with the customer, so I got the phosphoric acid (after checking the MSDS on many products). The resulting patch in a nut slot was perfect. It seems very slightly, if at all, softer than filing bone but much harder than the old baking soda, bone dust, and CA patch.

Thank you Matthew Lau for bringing this to my attention. This will save me a lot of remade nuts.

At this point, I have only this remaining question: what are those other folks doing who buy these dental supplies off of ebay?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Barry Daniels »

That is good to know. I will have to try it out. Kind of hate the idea of having to buy a gallon of acid though.
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Bob Gramann
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Bob Gramann »

There are very small quantities of the acid on ebay for around $7. At this point, I didn’t want to wait for delivery.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Help create an FAQ for nut files

Post by Barry Daniels »

How long did you have to hold the light over the fill to get it to cure?
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