How we cut (guitar) nuts at LsL.
There will be no giggling during this article no matter how many times I use any form of the word "nut".
Here at LsL we have chosen to do many things the hard way and making our nuts is one of those things where we feel it's worth the extra effort to do it right. We don't buy pre-slotted nuts - we make them by hand. All of our nuts come here as blanks and we install them into our necks before finishing. Then after the neck has been completely fretted we put the neck on the guitar and start on the nut slotting, adjusting and shaping.
Now this is a painstaking task but it's one of those details that is an important part of the feel, playability and even tone of the finished guitar.
First we cut the height of the nut down to a safe height. That would be above where we will end up but lower than the inital blank is. This makes the slotting easier and more accurate because we don't have to cut the slots so deep. The deeper you cut the greater the chance that the cut won't be perfectly perpendicular to the fingerboard. If you've ever cut a wide board with a hand saw you know this. Then we mark the slot positions with a marking gauge. We place the treble strings slightly closer together than the bass strings. This just ends up feeling better. It's a very small difference but important nontheless.
We then string up the guitar and adjust the height of each nut slot. We use a dial gauge to measure the height of each string and cut the slots so that the string is between .012 on the treble and .015" on the bass, over the 1st fret. That is 12 thousands and 15 thousands of an inch. This takes a while to do. One has to be very careful because going too deep means we have to start all over again so we take it slow and easy.
After cutting the slots we take sandpaper and sand the bottoms of each slot. We start with 400 grit then get progressively finer all the way up to 1000 grit. This makes the nut slot bottoms very, very smooth. Guitars with well cut nuts stay in tune after bending, or big trem bar dives. Now just to be completely anal about the whole thing, we grease the slots too. There will be no string binding in our nuts. Go ahead, bend away, make ridiculous trem dives.
After the slots are done we hand-shape the top of the nut to a pleasing shape without any sharp edges or corners. Again we sand to 1000 grit and make them beautiful.
So it may take a while but isn't this the way you want it done on your guitar? I certainly do, so that's how we make 'em here.
Now you may commence the giggling.