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Norman nut file system vs. Graphtech Question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by chunger, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939

    I've practicing my setup chops building some cheap SX basses detailed in this thread:


    I recently purchased a "Norman Nut File System" from Ebay, and had a really strange thing happen making the 1st nut on these files. The material I'm using is TUSQ Graphtech, so it's essentially plastic, right?

    The files cut fine for the first few strokes and then it felt almost as if the teeth were completely ineffective. I had to apply a lot of downward force to get the file to cut the full depth of the nut slot. These tools are supposed to last for 100's of jobs, right? I was wondering if my files are junk or if it's just teflon, graphite, or whatever coating the teeth and I just need to clean it off? Are these just lousy tools or am I doing something wrong?









  2. kcjewel


    Nov 22, 2009
    Paso Robles, CA
    I have a set of these files also but haven't used them yet. They are made out of feeler guages, maybe the way he cuts the teeth, the material doesn't last.
    John and the crew
  3. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    The ones I like for most nut material (Graphite included) and the "double sided" nut files from StewMac. I prefer a file over a blade, just my .02

    But still, your filing looks good regardless
  4. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    +1 The Stew-Mac files work nice
  5. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939
    I've contacted the seller about this. . . directed him to this thread and have request a refund. If this file set is only good for 1 nut, this would be one expensive nut :rollno: I don't think I've ever had a tool (even the cheap ones) wear out this fast on a material it was designed to cut. I've really lightly touched up 2 plastic nuts and fully cut one Graphtech TUSQ nut on these files. I'm very disappointed and feel this has been a horrible waste of funds.

    I'm thinking about ordering these from Stewmac. . . 3 of the files are their single edge files as the sizes fit the gauge of string I've standardized on better. (.046, .065, .085, .105)

    4551 Gauged Nut Slotting Files - 0.065" width $14.79

    5313 Gauged Nut Slotting Files - 0.046" width $12.95

    5314 Gauged Nut Slotting Files - 0.085" width $14.79

    4546 Double-edge Nut Files - 0.105" / 0.120" $25.45

    In my limited experience, I did not like cutting a slot .005 larger than the string (more slop than I like). Do you find this to be problematic? Are the single sided files built just as well as the dual sided ones?
  6. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    .005 too much slop? You are kidding, right. .005 is not even noticable, and just enough to prevent string bind. You will create more variant than that just in creating the slot.
  7. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939
    I notice. . . I'm using .070 file to seat a .065 D string, and I notice. . . the string moves side to side in the slot. There is visibly more gap than the other strings in the nut.

    The other strings on the nut work out a lot better for me:

    .046 file for .045 string
    .085 file for .085 string
    .105 file for .105 string

    So, I prefer to have my files tighter to the string spec. But, I also haven't made very many nuts.
  8. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    No idea how a file would have such poor performance other than the fact graphite might really gunk it up. That's the only thing that immediately springs to mind. Still, thanks for the pictorial - it's much appreciated.
  9. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939
    I just tried re-touching this nut a little, and there's no joy. This file set is near useless after 1 nut. The seller has not got back to me yet. I didn't find any information on TB about the Norman nut file system, so I figured I'd post.

    There are threads in guitar forums I've found where people have had the same issue with the files going dull quickly. Feeler gauge steel and tool steel are probably very different substances.
  10. Dream Weaver

    Dream Weaver

    Jul 11, 2009
    Well nuts... =( On a whim I ordered some of these earlier in the week. I guess I'll find out soon enough if they are all crap. =/ I may just leave them in the box.

    Hard to justify $200 in tools to work on a $2 part. =/
  11. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    have you tried brushing the dust out of the teeth of the file? a cheap paint brush should do the trick or you might try a small wire brush.
  12. Nice strings. Who makes them?
  13. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939
    Those are DR "Extra Life" strings. The color is Cool Blue. I ordered them from http://www.theperfectbass.com and recommend them since they have good pricing.

    I found the cool blue ones sound different (better) than the black ones for no particular reason I can think of, so there's my 2 cents on that.
  14. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    When the slots get deep like that, the files can tend to bind up. If you sand or file off some material off the top of the nut, it will again get easier to cut the slots. The slots don't need to be any deeper than half the thickness of the thicker strings, and you should be able to bury the G string with no problem.
  15. chunger


    Jan 10, 2006
    Albany, CA
    Chunger basses by Studio 939
    Heard back from Norman via Ebay. He has agreed to my request for refund and noted that the files do dull a bit upon first use. For me and for this nut material, it dulled too much.

    Either way, a refund is perfectly fair, so it appears he is running his business in an honest fashion. So, for me, problem resolved. Stewmac files have been ordered and I am not left out to dry, but in my experience, TUSQ Graphtech and Norman files do not mix well.
  16. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Gotta larf--I tried them out a few years back, they lasted three bone nuts. Norman doesn't (or, didn't, I have no idea about the present)back up his products. Communication? I'm still larfin'....

    How're the basses going together, after the plugging extravaganza?
  17. Jason_A


    May 26, 2009
    Marion, IA
    I bought this set from Warmoth: http://www.warmoth.com/Nut-Files-for-Bass-Set-of-7-P46C215.aspx

    I got mine a few months ago and they look a little different than the picture. In any event, I like them, and I think at the time were the best "deal" I could find. They are round-bottomed. (I haven't used them, but I've heard people say the Stew Mac files are more "V" shaped than round) I've cut 3 bone nuts with them and they don't seem to be cutting any worse than when I got them. Haven't tried a "plastic" material, though, so not sure how they perform with something like that.

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