I am enjoying building CBG type instruments and have completed 3. One area I am struggling with is the nut. I have been cutting nuts from Corian and fitting to necks that I have crafted using hand tools. Well the nuts just don't set very well. I suppose I could hold it in position and glue with CA glue but if I cut the string slots too deep I might find it difficult to remove the nut. I have attempted to provide a 90 degree ledge in the neck and cut the nut at 90 degrees also. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,

Grandpa G

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Practice, practice, practice..but I usually use a chisel to finish off the "shelf". With a decently wide chisel you can pare down the shelf in a couple of overlapping passes, and it's much easier to get a nice flat, crisp surface this way than with a file. You can work accurately right into the junction between the neck and the fretboard, cleaning up any remnants of glue squeeze-out . You need a very sharp chisel and a fair amount of nerve to do it, but once you get started doing it this way you realise how accurate it can be.

I know various people will say that a table saw or bandsaw or router is the way for real accuracy, but there is a lot more room for error using power tools. Bandsaw blades flex a lot, and with table saw and routers there can be  a surprising amount of play in the bearings and mounts. Also any guide,  jig or fence system needs to be well designed for the job, but even then it will have some play in it, and also relies on the steadiness, sensitivity  and accuracy of the hands feeding the work across the blade and through the guide or jig.  A good hand tool, a practiced hand and a keen eye can do the job more accurately, more safely, and in terms of set-up time, more quickly than a power tool.

as others have said those string slots are way too deep. get your nut slot or shelf flat and perpendicular to the neck first then user that to give you the size of nut you need. then after you have that in place mark off the fret slots this way if you have to remove more material to make it square you wont get the intonation out of wack...

I'll agree with what you are trying to say, if not necessarily the way it was said.

the nut slots are cut however deep they need to be cut to get the correct action height at the first fret.  But since the string only touches the sides and bottom of the slot, the excess bit of the nut sticking above the string gets removed, mostly for looks and partly to clearly see the string is sitting correctly in the slot, and a bit for the string not binding when you set it down in the slot.

Many thanks to all for your suggestions. I have decided to use the CA glue option and am happy with the result. I might try the "faux trussrod cover" on a future build.

Also, my apology for downloading the wrong image. The image I downloaded was a previous build before I learned the importance of slot depth. I am attaching a photo of the current instrument for your viewing.

Again, many thanks, awesome info!!!

Grandpa G

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As others here have side the nut and nut slot Must be flat to each other. i use a plate of glass or a granit slab with sandpaper spray glued to it in different grades to sand the bottom of the nut to make sure it's dead flat. On the not slot I have a needle file that I have ground off the sides ( so they are smooth)to the width of my nuts( insert laughter) so it only takes wood off the bottom and not the sides. And last I make a fake truss rod cover to act as the headstock shelf edge that way if the nut it a bit wider than normal I can make the slot tight with it butted up to the nut. The best nut is a tight nut.attached is a picture of my headstock with nut assembled
Insert massive jokes here folks.
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And a side shot
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not sure why anybody would make jokes, the results speak for themselves.

I'm with Wayfinder on this one. Zero fret all the way, string space holder behind the zero fret.

You can get really creative with the space holder

I don't see the point in doing a zero fret myself. Even if you use a zero fret, you still have to make string guides to keep the strings from wandering/moving around. I think a nut looks better than having a zero fret and several screws to keep the strings in place.

A nut has built in string guides - slots that also make the string height right.

The reasons why people have problems making a proper nut are: 1. They haven't researched how to make a proper nut.  2. Don't have any proper tools or skills with said tools to make a proper nut.

Any job/project worth doing, is worth doing right the first time. Do your research. Don't be afraid to ask questions before starting and have the patience to get the knowledge before jumping in.

A secret to all is:

If you want a quick and simple solution to this topic, use a bolt/screw for your nut laid across the fretboard. It has built in guides and has a fulcrum point at the top so you don't have to cut angled slots. The threads come in different pitches to allow for bigger strings or you can simply file it to fit.

I'm on board with the zero fret idea as Wayfinder stated. There are many advantages, but here are a few:

1. No String Buzz: Nuts are a common cause of string buzz, even on commercially built guitars. Sure, a knowledgeable builder can carefully file and shape the string grooves in the nut to fix this, but the zero fret removed the nut from the string performance equation. 

2. Precise Action Height: A zero fret set the action very accurately. It is possible to file each nut groove to achieve correct action height, but, again, it is a precision hand operation. Not needed with a zero fred.

3. Depending on how you approach your zero fret, you can end up with an easily adjustable action height. This is really nice when you want to fret the guitar and need low action, then want to play slide and need some extra action height. Using music-wire for a zero fret means you can easily change wire diameter and thus action height (see previously posted photo).

I avoided the zero fret for several years, then gave it a try. After that, there was no question that it was the best way to go for me.

There is no question that with practice, patience and some spare nuts to work on, you can achieve a buzz free nut with good action height. That being said, why not adopt an improved approach to the nut function that works every time and does not require a surgeons hand. It seems that commercial guitar guys like StewMac feel the same since they recently added a zero fret kit for high end Fenders.

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