Making a bone nut
This 1964 Hagstrom J45/H45 is in for a new nut and saddle. The original nut was a poor fit and tilting to the side, as well as the string slots being too low and too wide causing the strings to buzz on the first fret. I will make a new nut from a blank of bone which will be a much better fit.
Removing the old nut can sometimes be tricky but this one just fell off as soon as the strings were removed. The nut slot is cleaned of any old glue or debris using a sharp chisel, being careful not to remove any wood.
The bone blank is sanded square until it fits the slot tightly. Because of the design of the truss rod on this guitar, a notch had to be filed into the nut using a small half round file.
The approximate nut height is then calculated and the top of the nut is shaped to match the fretboard, which is a 12" radius.
Most of the material is removed on a disc sander and then a radius block is used to sand right up to the line.
The nut is placed in the guitar and the outer strings are marked the correct distance in from the fretboard edge. In the nut vice, a string spacing ruler can now be used to find the correct spacing for the other strings. The slots are then roughly cut using a fine saw and nut slot files.
With the nut back in the guitar the slots are more accurately filed to the correct depth, width and angle. The top is then lowered and shaped so the strings don't sit too deep. Now the nut is almost finished it's sanded to a fine shine with micro mesh papers and the slots are smoothed with an abrasive cord. The last step is to hold it in place with a few drops of superglue.