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Making a Bone Nut for guitar

I've detailed the process of making a nut in some of my other posts, but here it is in brief.

After tracing the pattern of the old nut plus some extra height to the nut blank (I used 'vintage' bone), I use an X-Acto razor saw to trim it to a close shape.

Then I file the top to the correct curve.  You can use the old nut as a curve template, or you can use a template curved to the fretboard's radius as a guide.  I have a set of Stew-Mac radius gauges that I use for this.

Then put the nut on the guitar to lay out the string spacing.  I measured and marked the E strings (the most outside 2 strings) for a spacing about 7/64 of an inch (2.77 mm) from the edge of the fretboard.

Then using a Stew-Mac string spacing gauge, line up the two outside marks with a set of 6 marks that most closely match your layout.   The gauge is market with a number of notches, so you will find one that works.

Then mark and notch the marks with a razor saw (fine hacksaw or hobby knife will work too).

Then file the notches for each string.  Be careful not to cut too low.  There are a lot of techniques for this.  This time I used a combination of feeler gauges under the file, my eye, and the real test - playing it.  It usually takes me 3 or 4 shots to get the height as low as it can go without buzzing.

Trim off the excess length, use a fine file to get the final shaping, sand it with 600 grit paper, and polish it.   Tune it up and play!


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