Special Thanks to Dave Slusser for providing this article.


Hardware Store Nut Files!

Hello again from Dave at Summerhill Studios

 I’d like to give you a tip to save you some money. A short time ago, a friend of mine who is an aspiring Luthier had a conversation with me. We were discussing cutting nut slots. He asked me about it, and I told him the basic procedure and about gauged nut slot files. I told him they weren’t very cheap, but they were a necessary item if he was to be serious about the guitar building trade ?  He said he was trying to use some preslotted nuts from a well known supplier, and that most of the time he just really needed to  “ touch up ” the slots and not really cut them.

I was scratching my head when I got an idea…. I was an Oxy-Acetylene cutter for a number of years back in the 70’s, and myself and the rest of the cutters, always carried a set of “ Tip Cleaners ” in our pockets for keeping our torch tips clean so they would produce a nice flame and cut cleanly. This got me to thinking, I know what they look like, I know what they do, AND I know that they’re almost the identical same thing as a nut slot file, but shorter and smaller, and a whole LOT cheaper ?? They cut solid Brass/Copper flame holes in the torch tip, so I know they’ll cut plastic, Brass, or Bone nuts. I started looking on eBay for my buddy and guess what I found ???  Acetylene torch tip cleaners being sold under the guise of Nut Slot Files.

Here’s the kicker, they’re being sold for a lot more than what you can get tip cleaners for at the Home Depot, or local welding shops. If you take out the shipping ( generally $3.00 or more ) and substitute local sales tax, you can get away a lot cheaper, and have a pretty serviceable set of nut slot files. They can be had at the local Home Depot  for around $ 4.00  

The item info. for Home Depot is “ Lincoln Electric Oxygen-Acetylene Torch Tip Cleaner Kit Model # KH575 ” However, I found them on Amazon for as little as $2.00, but here again, you’re back to the shipping. Your local welding supply company may have them for that small a cost also.

A word of warning. These are small items, about 2.5” long and the smaller diameter ones are somewhat easily bent if you don’t watch yourself. If you are careful and take your time, which you should be doing anyway with the nut slotting process, these will hold up for a long time, and serve you well. Oh, there’s also a small file in the set that can help do some final nut shaping if needed. Here’s what you’re looking for. These do change in appearance somewhat, depending on the manufacturer. Hope this helps.


Dave Slusser
Summerhill Studios


Back to Top