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Fender Strat, New Nut

10/2/13

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1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Headstock 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Broken Original Bone Nut
1. A 1970’s Fender Strat Neck. This one is in the shop for a refret and new nut. 2. The Nut appears to be the original. It has broken into two pieces right at the low e-string nut slot. There’s no point in saving this sloppy factory nut. Repairing this nut won’t be as stable as simply making a new one.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Sloppy Factory Nut Work 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Stainless Steel Refret Jescar 6105 Fretwire
3. Chipped Finish I’m not going to bother repairing this pre-existing cosmetic damage which includes gouges from files and chipped finish surrounding the nut.  I’ll push the nut out sideways with a punch, refret and refinish the fretboard under the new frets. 4. New Frets. If a work order includes fretwork, the refret should always be completed before a new nut is made.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Pre-Radiused Synthetic Bone Blanks 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Chamfer Bottom Edges of Nut
5. Cyclovac is what Fender calls synthetic bone.  This strat’s owner chose cyclovac because it’s a tough material that lasts a long time. Bone, blakc tusq xl and nylon are other popular nut materials. 6. Chamfering. I lightly round over the bottom corners of the nut with a scraper. When necessary, I use a chisel and or PSA sandpaper attached to the bottom of the nut blank to true the nut seat.  The cyclovac nut blank has a 7 1/4″ radius which nearly perfectly matches the nut seat on this old strat.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Mark Ends of Nut Layout Top of Nut
7. Layout is Key. I trace the contours of the side of the neck onto the protruding nut blank. 8. More Layout. I layout the top of the nut with a pencil sanded in half that rests on top of the first two frets.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut But Nut to Rough Length 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Blank Cut
9. End Nippers trim the blank to rough length. 10. Ready for Sanding.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Sand Nut to Length 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Sand End of Nut to Finished Length
11. The Disc Sander sands the blank’s ends to the pencil lines. 12. Fine Sandpaper. I sand away the course sanding marks by hand with 2,000 grit sandpaper on a flat granite slab.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut luthiers friend sanding station small parts vise 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut sand top of new nut
13. The Small Parts Vise holds the blank as I sand it to rough height with the verticle belt sander. 14. Shaping the Top of the Nut. I use 180 grit, 600, 1k and 2k sandpaper wrapped around a small cork-lined sanding block to bring the top of the nut to it’s final shape.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut buff new nut 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Notch E Strings
15. Polishing the Nut with the small grinder equipped with buffing wheels brings the nut to a high-shine. 16. Notching the E-String Slots is the first step in laying out the nut slots. I don’t want the E strings too close to the edge of the fretboard. I also don’t want the E-strings too close together or the string spacing will be uncomfortably tight. This is especially a concern with these 70’s Fender necks.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut Layout Nut Slots with string spacing rule 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut file new nut slots
17. Layout the Slots. I use the stew mac nut slot layout tool and a small sharpie to layout the nut slots. These older Fender necks are sometimes a little too narrow for this tool to layout all of the slots. 18. Slotting the Nut. I start each slot with a .012” v-shaped nut slotting file then open them up to their final width. I file the slots so they are half way between the plane of the fretboard and the plane of the strings as they travel from the nut to the tuning machines.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut floss nut slots 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut lubricate nut slots with stew mac's guitar grease
19. Flossing the Nut Slots with abrasive cord cleans up any course file marks. 20. Lubricating the Nut Slots with stew mac’s guitar grease and a dental tool is my S.O.P. but other lubricants meant for this purpose also work fine.
1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut polished nut with graduated string spacing 1972 Fender Strat New Cyclovac Nut proper string protrusion
21. A New Cyclovac Nut has a nice profile and is pretty quick and easy to make. Cow Bone is another good choice for a nut but I think cyclovac lasts longer which is important if you have stainless steel frets. 22. The Nut Slots should leave about half of the 6th string protruding above the nut although a little less protrusion is also fine.
fender strat new cyclovac nut
23. The Unwound Strings are better off being either flush with the top of the nut or deeper so the strings stay in place during string bending.