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Stainless Steel nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by KatCreek Guitars, Oct 9, 2015.


  1. KatCreek Guitars

    KatCreek Guitars Commercial User

    Jan 11, 2009
    Los Alamos, NM
    Owner, KatCreek Guitars
    Hey does anyone know where I can get a stainless steel nut? I've done some web surfing and not coming up with any resource.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I don't think I've ever seen stainless steel nuts used on any production instruments or available for sale as an aftermarket part. But, it's easy enough to make one yourself. Buy a small length of 304 Stainless bar stock from a metal supplier. Cut it with a hacksaw, shape it with files, polish it up.

    For some reason, around here Stainless Steel is talked about as if it is some kind of hard-as-diamonds stuff. But it isn't. It's actually no more difficult to cut and shape than mild steel.
     
    JustForSport likes this.
  3. scrubjay

    scrubjay

    Mar 30, 2015
    New Jersey
    Not sure if it's what you're looking for, but Allparts sells stainless steel nuts for Danelectro guitars and basses.
     
    lz4005 likes this.
  4. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Snag a piece of stainless key stock.

    Follow the link, then on the left, select first straight, then stainless steel and you will see all manner of sizes and alloys. It's a few bucks for a foot of it. Get something a bit big all round and work it down to size.

    McMaster-Carr
     
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    There are different grades of stainless, some lesser grades are indeed easy to cut and shape, but something like 316 alloy stainless will eat the teeth off of a porta band blade in a matter of minutes, a hacksaw would stand no chance.
     
    PokeyPrasch and BigBobbyBass like this.
  6. KatCreek Guitars

    KatCreek Guitars Commercial User

    Jan 11, 2009
    Los Alamos, NM
    Owner, KatCreek Guitars
    I looked up the Dalenectro nut and it is aluminum (I think). I made one out of aluminum before and they look great. Yet I know they won't hold up as well over time as stainless. I think stainless requires diamond files. I'm sure I could machine one out of stock using a mill. However, I'm making enough custom parts and want to avoid the metal work in my shop at present. I've been told their was a manufacturer that used to make a guitar with a stainless nut and they really like the sound. I might just have to draw it up and ask a machine shop to make them out of 316SS to match some other parts I have on the bass. Possibly for the short term, I'll buy the aluminum one.

    Thanks so much for all the advise.
     
  7. Warmoth sells nickel blanks. I used one on a build once and it came out nice- you can polish it up to a nice bright finish and it's a lot easier to work than steel. You do have to pay particularly close attention to your slotting- get it wrong and the strings will hang up a lot. Applies to any metal nut.
     
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    A couple of things:
    I use aluminum nuts (along with zero frets) on all my basses, and they hold up just fine. I make them from 6061 bar stock and buff them up to a shine. Over time, they dull a little bit, but not much. I have some basses that are now approaching 20 years old, and the aluminum nuts still look good.

    Yes, stainless will be somewhat more durable, but I don't know if it really gains you much.

    No, stainless doesn't require diamond files. You should never use diamond files on metals like steel or stainless. Diamond cutting tools are for concrete, stone, glass, carbide.

    No need at all to use 316 stainless; use 304. 316 is more expensive, and more resistant to heavy corrosion. That's what you use in chemical plant components. Completely unneeded on a bass.

    Hopkins: 316 stainless can be cut and shaped with normal saws and files, as long as you buy the bar stock in annealed form and, most importantly, you keep the cutting speeds down low. That's the thing about working stainless; it work hardens very easily from heat buildup at the cutting point. Run your PortaBand at normal speeds and the 316 will instantly work harden and strip the teeth off the blade. But if you use a hand hack saw or a band saw running real slow, it will cut just like mild steel. It's all about minimizing the heat buildup. 316 is more sensitive to work hardening than 304.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
    JustForSport likes this.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Just to be clear on the metallurgy: What Warmoth sells are Nickel-Silver nut blanks, not Nickel. The name is misleading, but Nickel-Silver is an alloy of brass. It's a harder version of brass, but still very easy to form and file. That what classic fretwire is made from, Nickel-Silver. So, a Nickel-Silver nut would be the same metal as your frets, which is sensible.

    You aren't going to find actual Nickel nut blanks or bar stock. Pure nickel is very expensive and dangerous to work with.
     
    David Jayne and mech like this.
  10. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Yeppers, 316 is hard as YKW, and stress cracks pretty easy.

    If I had to hand work some stainless, I'd want a piece of 18-8. Not much harder than good brass and can be worked with hand tools. It might take a bit longer than plastic, but barring a poxyclips, you'd only need to make one per instrument.
     
  11. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I am well aware of 316 stainless, I've had to run a few miles of 316 screw pipe a few years back, it was rough, but it has nothing on inconel which made quick work out of the stainless thread cutters in our Rigid 535
     
  12. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, I don't do a lot of work with 316. I have a couple of lengths of round stock of it that I think I picked up in the discount bins at Industrial Metals. I've successfully sawn it, turned it in the lathe, made machine parts from it. I normally just buy 304 or 416. The 316 is a little nastier to work with. For instrument parts, 316 is a waste of money and effort. 304 is fine. I'm making some batches of 304 pickup rings and bridges for a Luthier customer right now.
     
  13. KatCreek Guitars

    KatCreek Guitars Commercial User

    Jan 11, 2009
    Los Alamos, NM
    Owner, KatCreek Guitars
    Wow thanks for all the advise. Dr. J is amazing. Very good to know about the metallurgy of the nickel-silver. I was thinking of making a zero fret since it simplifies the nut making process a little. Maybe I'll go with the 6016 aluminum and 304 stainless. The last one I made was with a college's mill but I don't have a mill in my shop. SOOOO, off to school again I go. Would be nice if I could find a stainless steel one already made though.
     
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    304 is more common in my world as well
     
  15. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I used to sell valves to the Oil & Gas industry primarily, but once in awhile the smelting plants would order up some crazy expensive Inconel valves.
    I've got a 316 SS sword & that thing was a bugger to sharpen, but it holds it edge.

    I think 304 SS is more malleable & just generally easier to do cold work with.
    It's also popular because it's cheaper.
     
    JustForSport likes this.
  16. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    304 or 302 would be the better grades to work for a nut, and they're more 'stain less'. 308 is ok, too. A good bi-metal hack saw blade will cut it, but keep the pressure on, and make long, full cuts. Every tooth needs to be cutting, not sliding across the work. If it even starts to get dull, change blades immediately. It'll buff to a good shine and keep it good, tho 316 will buff out to like-chrome. 316 is harder to work, gets surface discoloration easier, unless using 316L (low carbon). No point in working that hard for making a nut, or most anything bass related. I've cut, ground, welded and buffed all of them- in a marine environment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
  17. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Also, in my experience, it's better to saw or file slowly with SS. If it gets warm, it gets tougher.
     
  18. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Yep, 'feed rate' is what's important- there needs to be enough pressure with slower sawing/filing so the tool doesn't just slide across the work. And the file teeth need to be kept clean to keep cutting.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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