…Inlaying a Mother of Pearl Crown set…

The inlays look great, I am very pleased how they came out. It’s worth taking a little time over to make it look like they just grew there….There are a few stages necessary to make this happen…..

  1. Mark out. The pieces are laid out in place then stuck down with a tiny amount of superglue. A scriber (pokey thing, sharp thing, pointy thing) is used to mark around the edges. Then the pieces are removed by prising them off with a large chisel. If they are well stuck you can heat them up with a soldering iron to loosen the glue.
  2. Rough cut. A mini router with a 3mm cutter was used to remove most of the material. The depth is set to just less than the thickness of the piece so it will sit proud in the hole – it will be sanded flush later.
  3. Second pass. A smaller cutter is then used to go around the edges as neatly as possible.
  4. Finish by hand. Some shapes (like these) have sharp corners which the router cannot get into. Finish these off with a chisel until the pieces drop in.
  5. Glue them in. The rest of the fretboard is masked off and the hole is filled with glue paste made up by mixing 2 part epoxy with wood dust.
  6. Clean up – When the glue has had sufficient time to dry the fretboard is sanded level once more.

Rosewood is slightly harder to inlay than Ebony, here’s why: Because Ebony is black you would use black glue and the join vanishes, but with Rosewood you have to mix up a paste of Rosewood dust and glue so the colour matches, but you can always see the joins if you have done a bad job fitting the pieces – just look at any production guitar with inlays like this and you will see what I mean. It is impossible to get such a good fit without doing it by hand – even then it takes a bit of practice.

The pieces should drop in neatly without forcing them or you may have problems getting them in when the glue is applied – everything becomes slightly more tricky at that point. Tight fitting pieces might not fit anymore as the glue and dust paste does take up a little space.

If you are attempting this for the first time I would recommend Ebony for the fretboard.

The Inlays came from our friends at ‘Small Wonder’ – these are fairly standard shapes so it’s better just to buy them. I can make them but I prefer making custom inlays. Next time one comes up I will blog it!