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My first inlay

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 8:45 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Not too bad!!

This is a test piece - some hickory I had laying around, planed to the same 3/16" thickness as the FB I'm going to do (in ebony) on the current build. I've never done inlay so I wanted to do a few before starting to mess with the actual FB. I bought a set of gold MOP Les Paul inlays from DePaul Supply, plus some gold MOP blanks to play with. I scribed the outline of the 3rd-fret inlay onto one of the blanks, cut it out and shaped it, then proceeded with the inlay using a Dremel, a StewMac router base and a couple of carbide spiral downcut bits I got from Lee Valley. Finished it off with some modeler's chisels and voila! It stands proud between 0.016" and 0.028" so I think it needs a little more work to get it to settle evenly into place. It is also just a scrunch skewed, but I'm not sure how obvious that would be once strings and frets are in place, but I'll try to improve that. Once I do a few more, I should be ready for the real thing.
First Inlay.JPG

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 10:01 am
by Gordon Bellerose
I have found with block inlay, that if I clamp some guides for the router base, I can keep things square.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 8:44 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Gordon Bellerose wrote:I have found with block inlay, that if I clamp some guides for the router base, I can keep things square.
Good suggestion, but in this case the error was most likely in my positioning of the MOP prior to scribing the outline with a scalpel. I tried both turner's and painters tape stuck together with CA glue to hold the MOP in place while I scribed it, but both tended to be a bit "springy" in response to pressure from the blade. I have to learn to cut without bearing so hard against the MOP. I've got plenty of opportunity on this blank to refine my technique.

Also, a little more cleanup in the bottom corners of the recess with these modeler's chisels and it snuggled right down to be pretty uniformly about 0.010" proud of the wood all the way around.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:03 am
by Barry Daniels
I use a small drop of Elmers glue to hold the inlay during scribing. Then you can easily pop the inlay loose without any damage.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 12:26 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Barry Daniels wrote:I use a small drop of Elmers glue to hold the inlay during scribing. Then you can easily pop the inlay loose without any damage.
I was wondering if some kind of adhesive might not work better. Thanks for the tip! I’ll be doing some more trials today so I’ll give that a try!

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 3:42 pm
by Jim McConkey
Elmers is also great for gluing paper templates to shell during cutting of custom inlay pieces. After your piece is all cut out, drop in a cup of water for a bit, and the paper comes right off.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 4:20 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Jim McConkey wrote:Elmers is also great for gluing paper templates to shell during cutting of custom inlay pieces. After your piece is all cut out, drop in a cup of water for a bit, and the paper comes right off.
I've got a way to go before I start designing my own inlays, but I'll remember that. Thanks!

Also, I wanted to ask, Barry - do you run a little water under the MOP to soften the glue when removing, or do you just pop it off?

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 5:22 pm
by Barry Daniels
Just pop it off. I usually use a small artist's pallet knife and stick it under the inlay to pry it off. Obviously, a very thin inlay needs to be done carefully to prevent breakage. Your block inlays will have no such problem. Just use a very small drop of glue to make latter removal easy. I am talking about the amount of glue that would be transferred by a sewing needle.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 5:35 pm
by Steve Sawyer
Barry Daniels wrote:Just pop it off. I usually use a small artist's pallet knife and stick it under the inlay to pry it off. Obviously, a very thin inlay needs to be done carefully to prevent breakage. Your block inlays will have no such problem. Just use a very small drop of glue to make latter removal easy. I am talking about the amount of glue that would be transferred by a sewing needle.
Thanks. Used a toothpick. Hopefully didn't use too much!! :D

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 6:29 pm
by Barry Daniels
If it feels a little difficult to remove you could hit the inlay with a heat gun for a few seconds, or apply a drop of water and let it run under the inlay. Elmers loosens up very easily with either of these approaches. The drop of water would be the safer approach.

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:03 am
by Gordon Bellerose
Earlier I mentioned making a jig for routing block inlays.
As each block is slightly wider, and shorter as you go up the neck, the jig had to be easily adjustable.
My hand is not as steady as it used to be, and I get tired a bit easier these days. This makes the job easier.
This is what it looks like
37 Inlay Routing Jig 2.JPG

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:01 am
by Steve Sawyer
That's interesting, Gordon. How do you adjust it to cut a recess that matches the inlays?

By the way, Barry - the Elmers worked great! My second try came out even better!

Re: My first inlay

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:41 am
by Gordon Bellerose
The routing jig would only work on 2 sides for your inlay.
I use it for block inlay, where it works for all 4 sides.
Even at that, it would at least keep you square.