Bob Flesher Minstrel Banjo Kit

Making the Nut

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After I cut the nutslot I thought that I would go ahead and make the nut. Normally the nut is one of the last things to make since it is part of final setup. But I was on a roll so I just went ahead with it.

The kit came with two nut blanks in ebony. I put one of them on top of the neck next to the nut slot to see what I will have to do to make it fit. Here is a photo.

Nut blank

Yikes! This thing is huge. You could carve a boxcar out of it. I guess I will have to cut it down a bit to get it into the slot.

Before sawing the nut, I inspected it under a glass to make sure which way the grain was running. I did not want to cut it the wrong way just in case the endgrain was running sideways across the blank. After careful inspection, I decided that the grain runs down the length of the blank, so I should be able to cut the nut either way.

Then, I carefully measured the 1/8 inch width on the nut blank and marked it. I marked it a bit wide on the blank to give me some room for sanding out the saw marks. Then, I got out my trusty fret saw again and sawed the blank into two pieces. I put the larger of the two blades onto the fret saw to make this go a bit faster.


The next step was to finish filing the nut blank into the final size that will fit snugly inside of the slot. I did that using my shoe rasp.


I just filed it a little bit and then tried it to see if it would fit. Then I did it again... and again. I also tried to keep the nut blank straight and square. Boy, that old shoe rasp is getting dull! I have had this thing now for more than 30 years. I think that it is time I found a new one.

Here, I finally have the width of the nut blank just right, and it fits tightly into the slot. It is still, however a bit too long.

Too long

I cut the length of the nut to the width of the neck and then chamfered the side nearest to the peghead so that I would be able to figure out which way it goes into the slot when I set up the banjo.


As you can see in the photo, I left the nut standing a bit proud of the neck. I will probably have to cut it down some when I make the notches for the strings. But it is better to leave extra at this point since I do not know how high I will have to set the strings on it.

Altogether, cutting the nut slot and making the nut took me about 3 hours. That is a lot longer than I expected it to take when I started out, but the nut has to be absolutely correct if the banjo is going to play properly. Hence, it is time well spent.

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Last updated April 5, 2006