Fretboard inlay advice

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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:39 am

Bill Raymond wrote:I would suggest lowering the bit and taking a smaller bite on the first pass, then raising it to finish the radiusing. If that isn't possible because of the length of the bit and the range of depth adjustment on your router table, then affixing a riser to the carrier fixture. But definitely practice on scrap, and do be careful!!

Yep. I would definitely take tiny bites for this operation. I would use my router table, possibly with the bearing removed, and the fence used as a guide. I would bring the bit up a bit with every pass until it reached the center, then flip the operation over.

Interesting topics.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:53 am

I was thinking of doing a single block inlay on the piece of hickory I was going to use to experiment with this bit. I'm skeptical, but it will give me some inlay practice, even if it gets destroyed.

See, this thread is drifting back to inlay!! :lol:
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Eric Baack » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:32 am

I just did a headstock inlay with some casting epoxy resin filled with blue tint and glow powder. Cut the inlay on the CNC with a .020" pcb end mill
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Eric Baack » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:39 am

And here is some fun work on the fretboard.

https://youtu.be/T_VPged_RKY
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:24 am

You guys and your CNC rigs!!! :roll: :)

Wish I had the time and inclination to build one.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:04 pm

Square end bit. The one that worked best for me had a slight negative rake on the cutting edge which kept chipping minimized.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Edgar Jessop » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:31 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:You guys and your CNC rigs!!! :roll: :)...


And then this happened...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHbI_B2sPA0
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:51 pm

Edgar Jessop wrote:And then this happened...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHbI_B2sPA0


Laughed out loud at several of those.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Eric Baack » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:54 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:
Edgar Jessop wrote:And then this happened...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHbI_B2sPA0


Laughed out loud at several of those.



Yep, I made a piece of scrap mahogany last night... at least it was just a control cavity cover. My part shifted 1/8" on the last pass. I'll get some carpet tape under it too next time!
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Rodger Knox » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:40 pm

The other option is to recess the pearl enough to completely cover the top with CA. It can be built up with several layers, and sanded to the radius of the board.
Having a "cover" of CA over the pearl does alter the appearance slightly, on some types of pearl it looks better to me. Test it out on scrap, it's easier than radiusing the pearl, and frequently looks better. If there's any color in the shell, sanding in the radius can drasticly alter it.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:49 pm

Rodger Knox wrote:The other option is to recess the pearl enough to completely cover the top with CA. It can be built up with several layers, and sanded to the radius of the board.


That's interesting. Might experiment with that.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:25 pm

Okay, I'm back to this. I'm in the process of making a jig to use to radius the fretboard with that radiusing bit discussed above. I'll post pictures and report back on how that goes in a separate thread.

But back to inlays, I do want to make one or two "test" fretboards both to test the radiusing process and to practice doing the inlays. I had pretty much decided to go with gold MOP "sharkfin" inlays from DePaule supply. I wanted to get some gold MOP blanks to use for doing some test inlays before working on the actual FB for this build (I'm using jatoba) and emailed them to ask how much blank stock I'd need (it's sold by the ounce).

They were helpful, but cautioned that anything less than a 16" radius risks sanding the edges of wide inlays like these thin enough that they become semi-transparent, affecting the color. My plan is for a 12" radius, traditional for a lester. They did mention that some luthiers will paint the back of the inlays white to deal with this.

Just wanted to toss this out there for any comments by those experienced with MOP inlays.

Note that I'm not married to the idea of MOP. I have some ebony I could re-saw into inlay stock, but while this would make any gap-filling easier, I'm not sure that the stark color contrast will work (pommele sapele/ribbon-stripe sapele body, jatoba fretboard, cream binding, gold hardware)

Thanks.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Barry Daniels » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:40 pm

Those one piece, sharkfin inlays will be problematic. It is better to have multiple piece inlays because you can route deeper along the edge of the fretboard so you don't end up with sand throughs.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:55 pm

Thanks, Barry.

I'm assuming that might be the case for the "traditional" rectangular and trapezoidal inlays seen on lesters, though I'd like to do something more distinctive without getting crazy with my first inlay project. I should probably just go with something smaller.

I just checked, and I also have an EI rosewood FB blank I could sacrifice to make inlays, but I really think that gold MOP would be The Bomb with the rest of it...
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Mark Wybierala » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:31 pm

This is an inlay process that I do on guitars I build for myself. Its nothing more than depressions carved in the wood and back filled with black CA or colored epoxy. I've got three different sized thin brass templates and the toes are done freehand.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:31 pm

That's nice, Mark.

Do you use the templates strictly for marking or as a cutting guide? Do you ever observe any wear on the epoxy fill? Not sure of its wear characteristics vs. wood.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Mark Wybierala » Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:41 pm

Of course the maple necks have a lacquer finish but even on rosewood, using white epoxy, there hasn't been any problem with wear at all. I've never done anything large. My templates are only used to draw the desired pattern in pencil and the footprints lend themselves to allowing deviation as wet footprints on pavement generally aren't consistent either. I'm just using a handheld rotary tool with the standard Dremel engraver bits from the hardware store - low tech.

Here's another low tech position marker idea. These are Fender heavy celluloid pearl guitar picks on my nylon strung telecaster. I just trimmed them to be smaller as they progressed up the neck and used the same picks for the bars at the 12th fret. The pattern is easy to carve because there are no sharp corners. CA bonds really well to celluloid and I use the black CA from stewmac which can hide any imperfections. This is a low risk operation for someone who wants to explore inlay. Its actually the first guitar I ever made. Its just a matter of adjusting the depth of the relief little by little so the guitar pick sits relaxed at the right depth. If you go too deep, its easy to recover by putting a drop or two of CA in the hole, letting it cure, and hitting it with the dremel again. I used a single edged razor blade as a scraper to get the celluloid flat to the surface of the fretboard. Due to the low cost of the picks and the ease of cutting them to shape/size, its a good way to go for a beginner.

Practice on scrap. Its worth it.
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Re: Fretboard inlay advice

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:41 pm

Thanks, Mark. I like that. I note that you have two diagonal "bars" at the 12th fret. I was thinking of doing something similar for all of the fret markers - a single diagonal MOP slash at 3,5,7 & 9, and a double as you have at 12. I'm a little spooked at trying to get those perfectly parallel, as I'm sure any deviation will stick out like a sore thumb, but I can experiment.

And yeah - I'm going to do as many inlays on scrap as necessary to feel confident about doing the "real" fretboard. I just got an email from DePaule supply, and they said that unlike the sharkfin shape, their other block inlays aren't as wide and shouldn't present any problem with a 12" radius, so I should be good if I decide to go that route. They did suggest that I paint the back of the inlays with white to counteract the increased translucency of the MOP as it's sanded flush. I've also decided to switch to an ebony FB instead of the jatoba I was going to use; much easier to use some black-dyed epoxy to fill any gaps. I have plans (in my head) for a bass on my next build, so I may use the jatoba for that.
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