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Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Bod » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:33 pm

Thanks for the guide ZG.

I've recently attempted to replace the nut on a Squier Telecaster as the non-wound string slots were cut too low causing buzz on the first fret. I initially wanted to shim it to raise it but broke it trying to lift it from the slot.

Anyhow, I purchased a premade nut, and took great care in sanding it to the correct thickness for the slot. After doing this I discovered that it wouldn't seat correctly because the bottom of the nut slot was curved. I attempted to sand it to match the curve, but had real trouble getting it to match the curve of the slot and ended up taking too much off, which meant that I had exactly the same buzz problem I had to start with. Doh.

Before I try again with a new nut, are there any tricks to matching the curve? Do curved nut slots generally match the radius of the fingerboard?

Cheers,
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:07 am

You are welcome Bod, glad you found it helpful.

Those radiused Fender nut slots are a real pain. It's not simple getting a flat bottom on a nut blank, but it is straightforward and can be done by anyone with patience. But those radiused slots are a little harder but still do-able.

Generally, the saddle blanks with a radiused bottom are a reasonable fit already. So once you've thicknessed them to drop in the slot they are pretty close anyway. Close enough to get away with more often than not. But what I do to smooth the bottom for a better fit is to use a piece of 600 to 800 grit Wet & Dry paper and use the radius of the fret board to help out. I wrap the Wet & Dry paper around the fret board close to the saddle slot, and then carefully run the saddle blank over it a few times taking care to keep it perpendicular and not round the bottom of the blank in the wrong plane. I have also used the same technique with coarser Wet & Dry paper to sand a radius on the bottom of a flat nut blank with good success too, finishing off with the finer paper.

And if I have any doubts about how well the curves match when fitting, I would use a smear of PVA wood glue along the bottom of the nut instead of a couple of spots of superglue as the PVA has better gap filling qualities.

Does that help?

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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Folderol » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:15 pm

zenguitar wrote:But what I do to smooth the bottom for a better fit is to use a piece of 600 to 800 grit Wet & Dry paper and use the radius of the fret board to help out. I wrap the Wet & Dry paper around the fret board close to the saddle slot, and then carefully run the saddle blank over it a few times taking care to keep it perpendicular and not round the bottom of the blank in the wrong plane. I have also used the same technique with coarser Wet & Dry paper to sand a radius on the bottom of a flat nut blank with good success too, finishing off with the finer paper.

And if I have any doubts about how well the curves match when fitting, I would use a smear of PVA wood glue along the bottom of the nut instead of a couple of spots of superglue as the PVA has better gap filling qualities.

Does that help?

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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby CraigCyril » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:59 am

Nuts can be made from a variety of materials and require adjustment or replacement when wear and tear creates problems. Many nuts are very easy to remove. Using a block of wood to distribute the impact, a small tap of the hammer will pop them loose if they sit with only one side against wood. Thanks.
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Toby Warren » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:34 am

Thanks for posting such detailed advice! Please check out my post. I'm having a few problems with a really nice guitar I own. I think you of all people might have some good advice for me. Thanks Toby :angel:
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby IvanSC » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:38 pm

Wish I had read this BEFORE I did my first re-cut! :lol:
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby zenguitar » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:39 pm

Thanks Ivan

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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Barry Garlow » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:15 am

Its a great article. I just done a brass nut and also really with i'd read this first.

I've got one tip, might be handy but feel free to point out any pit-falls.

What i've done (not doing the job often enough to justify a set of fret saws) is to make a tool from a set of feeler gauges.

What i did was to get a set of feeler gauges, get them nice and snugly together and out of the holder/handle bit. Then clamp them in a vice and then get a file and file little teeth along one edge of the feeler gauges.

Then when you open them up you have a set of little saws that you know the exact width of and they still function perfectly well for other feeler gauge duties.

I've used these on bone and plastic, tusk, and this week even on brass and they work a treat.
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Barry Garlow » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:50 am

Also - If you want raw bone to chop up and make you own blanks, you can go to the pet-shop and buy lumps of white sterilised chewing bone for dogs (or might be for budgies, not sure, but anyway) these are clean and bleached and it saves all that 'boiling up the bones' lark.
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby zenguitar » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:05 pm

Thanks BG

Barry Garlow wrote:

I've got one tip, might be handy but feel free to point out any pit-falls.

What i did was to get a set of feeler gauges, get them nice and snugly together and out of the holder/handle bit. Then clamp them in a vice and then get a file and file little teeth along one edge of the feeler gauges.

Then when you open them up you have a set of little saws that you know the exact width of and they still function perfectly well for other feeler gauge duties.

I've used these on bone and plastic, tusk, and this week even on brass and they work a treat.

Actually, a very sensible tip indeed. Feeler gauges are made from tool steel, so the teeth you create with the file will keep sharp. And you can easily resharpen in the future. Wouldn't be my 1st choice for a budget tool (that would be a set of X-Acto saw blades and a couple of rat tail files) but in an emergency you could pick-up a set of feelers and a cheap set of needle files for less than a tenner and impress the locals ;)

Good idea about the pet shops for bone as well. Let quicker and far less smelly than boiling up your own :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Alba » Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:17 pm

I'm just about to cut a nut. Not as critical as its a guitar with a zero fret. The old nut was made by someone who had been on the drink by the look of it....

anyway, I don't have a nut rule but found this handy online calculator that I thought might be handy for someone...

Nut Calculator
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Kwackman » Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:39 pm

Very useful info and tips Zen, thanks.
The half pencil, how did you make it?
My attempt failed miserably, it cracks and never in a straight line!
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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby zenguitar » Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:47 pm

Thanks Kwackman

I used a bench mounted belt sander to make the half pencil. A manual alternative would be to make a groove in a piece of scrap just wide enough to hold the pencil and then use a plane/chisel to remove the excess wood. When you are almost through the wood stop cutting and take out the pencil. Then use some sandpaper on a flat surface and finish the job by rubbing the pencil on the sandpaper.

But the belt sander is a LOT quicker, just needs to be finished with a few strokes on finer sandpaper :lol:

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Re: Fitting and cutting a replacement nut

Postby Kwackman » Wed Feb 24, 2016 9:35 pm

Thanks for that Zen.
I'm off to buy some cheap pencils to practice on...
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