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Thread: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

  1. #1

    Default A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    Almost done with my second refret job - amateur that I am, I only work on my own instruments. Frets are neatly trimmed, leveled and crowned, polished - all looks good. Next, I'll be shimming the old nut or making a new one from bone - I find this do-able too, with the aid of the nut files I bought years ago.

    Hardest part, by far, for me, is cleaning the old dried glue and crap off the peghead area that receives the nut, and making a flat and square surface to glue the nut on. Tiny files, X-acto and razor blades, bits of sandpaper have been what I've used, with mediocre success. Any perspective or suggestions on this frustrating issue would be welcome - especially if I can avoid buying highly specialized tools from StewMac. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    I've used a "double sided" sharpening stone for this sort of thing. They have nice square corners.

  3. #3
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    If it's a pocket nut, a chisel, used longitudinally, can be useful to get most of the glue out.

    Often, I follow this with a medium file with the broad face taped off, with the taped face riding against the nut surface of the fingerboard. You will be using the 1/8" to 3/16" face of the file to cut. In other words, you will be using the file turned up 90 degrees from the way we usually use a file. You have to be very careful not to leave a convex surface. Then you'll have to trim the corner between the bottom of the fingerboard and the nut slot with a small chisel, working downwards. Start in the center and leave the outer edge until last.

    The large and small X-acto chisel blades can be useful. Hone them razor sharp.

    No matter what tools you use, the more you take care of the inside section of the slot first and leave the edges until last, the better the chance that you will avoid a convex slot.

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    There is a thread somewhere currently about gluing the nut in place. In that thread, I said to lightly glue the nut to the end of the fingerboard only, and this is the reason. If the nut had been glued only to the end of the fingerboard you wouldn't have to clean up the area where you want to seat the nut, it would be clean already. As it is, there is nearly no way to clean up the area without some wood loss, and if that is done enough times the nut ends up sitting in a deep slot.
    As for what to do now, I agree that a narrow chisel is a good tool to use.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    I especially hate it when it's the factory that floods the nut slot. Another pet peeve is Martin open end saddles flooded with CA. It turns a simple saddle replacement into a complicated and delicate job, and there's no reason to use more than 2 drops of glue, if any at all.

    I like the liquid hide glue for tacking a nut in.

    Good luck, T-E-F. Cleaning and truing flooded or mangled nut slots without losing a lot of wood can cause rapid hair loss. I've been known to scrape the slot just even enough to accept a 1/16" matching filler piece, recut, and touch up. It looks better that the deep slot John mentioned. If the edges are not too bad but the center is mangled, I'll sometimes fill the center with CA and wood dust and carefully re-cut so I don't have to take much wood off the edges.

  6. #6
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    I use a 3/16" rectangular file from a hobby file set, using the edge of the file to gently scrape away the glue if possible, then light filing to get the surface flat. It's tedious and time consuming. I tried using a chisel once - took off too much wood in all the wrong places. I tried gluing to the end of the fret board, but a little glue crept down under the nut and I couldn't see it happening. I just don't see any reason to cause this much trouble by gluing the nut unless it has to be glued.
    Tom
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  7. #7

    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    Pencil is your friend, whenever filingor sanding I pencil mark the slot, then file or sand, the pencil references where you are taking material out, going blindly can cause a Miriad of problems such as over filed slots

    Steve

  8. #8

    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    Thanks for the excellent replies.

    I like the filing suggestion especially. I couldn't get down to the hardware store right away for a new rectangular file, so instead I rubber-cemented the thin edge of a popsicle stick to the back of a strip of 220 sandpaper. When the cement dried, I trimmed the excess sandpaper off with an X-acto knife. This left an extra-narrow sanding block, which I have just been using with success.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    I bought a set of jewelers files with six different shaped files, the flat one fit perfect into the space where the nut is glued in, I`m sure there are plenty of places that sell the correct size file, you might have to search a bit but better to be safe than to rush into something...

    Willie

  10. #10

    Default Re: A square surface for a new nut - ?!?!

    You know, sometimes it makes sense to bite the bullet and buy those expensive StewMac tools we love to hate. I don't want to think what all of the tools I bought and made to build my Arches kit added to the cost of the mandolin, and I already had the nut and fret files, and a sanding beam. But there was the Dremel cable extension, the StewMac binding router tool and cutter, the thickness gauge, material for thirty spool clamps, and I'm sure I am missing something....oh yeah, scrapers, and a fret hammer, and more razor blades and x acto blades than I would use in a year.

    I did meet and exceed my goal of surpassing what I could have gone out and bought for the same money, but the fit and finish on a Kentucky master series is worlds better.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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