Learning the Art of Inlay Work..

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Evil7, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    I have been watching You tube videos on Custom Inlays..
    I have some questions before i get started gathering my tools....
    I am planning to practice on 2 old guitar necks i have laying around and I want to learn to Inlay with the frets in the neck.


    1. Should I buy a small block of Rosewood and Ebony to make sawdust for coloring the epoxy... or can i just use removed material from routing...

    2. Im wanting to do this with the frets on..so does anyone have good advice for this... I know it Limits the complexity of the design for the inlays...

    3. Should i buy a real router or should i use a dremal tool with a router attachment..

    4. What are some other tools i will need... Please be specific on file sizes, sandpaper grits, and epoxy brands ect......

    Any other advice for getting started in Inlay work is welcome... Links, videos, ect...
    Thanks!
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You might want to PM the member "AthenaInlay". He's a self proclaimed "inlay nut" who does some really nice work.
     
  3. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    Thanks for the tip Max! Im on it!

    I searched his posts ... he dosent seem to be a very active member.... I sent a message anyway.... Does anyone else have some advice?
     
  4. AthenaInlay

    AthenaInlay ss.org irregular

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    He is a she and she's here. ;-> Wow, I could write a tome on this. Let me start writing up the basics. But first, my advice is to get Larry Robinson's inlay DVDs.

    Several places have them for sale and sometimes they show up on fleabay. They are what I learned from. Larry is THE man.

    More soon...

    ...Ath
     
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  5. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Sorry for my rather politically incorrect assumption. :)


    You know what they say about assuming right? :lol:
     
  6. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    Thanks for the DVD tip.. I will look into that for sure! I checked out your webpage.. You do some really complex designs.. Nice work!
     
  7. AthenaInlay

    AthenaInlay ss.org irregular

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    1. I always have lots of scrap lying around so I use that. I wail on it with a medium-fine file to get really fine dust. That packs into the cavities better. I suppose one could capture the ebony dust from routing, but if you want to see, you don't want it hanging around (more on this later). And you want it to be clean! You don't want any extra crap in it.

    You could buy some cutoffs on ebay or LMI usually has a bunch of ebony bridge blanks and such on clearance. Go here: Luthiers Mercantile International, Inc. Guitar Builder Wood and Supplies and select "CLEARANCE"

    Rosewood is a little more tricky because the dust usually darkens in the glue, so it won't match as well. It depends on the particular piece of rosewood. I've got some that stays surprisingly light and some that gets really dark. You have to do a little test in scrap or just deal with having your mistakes look darker.

    2. I have not done anything with the frets on yet. I'm luck enough to work with a fine custom builder so I've gotten all unfretted raw fretboards so far. It is doable though.

    3. I know tons of people who have done loads of inlay work with a Dremel. A "real" router is only going to get you in trouble a lot faster. Their plastic base sucks though. It's probably ok to start, but the base Steward McDonald makes is better (Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Mandolin, Parts, Tools, Supplies, Free Information at Stewart-MacDonald), but not perfect. That's what I'm using right now and it's serviceable. I'm working on designing my own though.

    For routing I use a Foredom flexshaft tool because it's got more torque and better bearings. It's an awesomely flexible system with tons of different handpieces and it's built like a tank. But you certainly don't need one of those.

    There are lots of things you can do to get the dust out of the way whilst routing. Some people use an aquarium pump or air compressor. A neat little trick I found online is to make a little flag out of masking tape. Maybe an inch long and 1/8" high. Wrap this around the top of your end mill (just before the flutes start) and it'll whirr around like crazy and fling dust away.

    I'll leave #4 for the next post...

    ...Ath

    No prob at all. I get that ALL the time.

    ...Ath
     
  8. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    Wow thank you for being really detailed! I cant wait to get everything I need.... I plan to really have done some solid research while gathering tools/supplys.. Really tho... thanks for taking the time to give me a good start in my research.. :cheers:
     
  9. AthenaInlay

    AthenaInlay ss.org irregular

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    ROUTING

    1. A Dremel or some other small router-like object

    2. A base of some sort. Dremel, StewMac, whatever

    3. Some end mills. I get some from Grizzly and some from USACarbide.com. 1/32" is a good average small size but it depends on how detailed your design is. Don't try horsing around anything larger to start because you'll only get yourself in trouble faster and not really save much time. I use .025" and .020" end mills alot. Yeah they're all carbide. They don't have to be, but try to find small HSS end mills.

    4. Some way to hold down the item you're routing. I usually route fretboard blanks, so I double-sided tape them to a nice aluminum bar I have. A neck is going to need more support. Firm support. You don't want it moving around on you!

    5. Filler dust

    6. Glue. I use CA glue, mostly because Larry Robinson does and he's my mentor. I also like to use a glue that actually has a solvent. Starbond is the best, but any decent brand will do. It's better if it's fresh and has been kept cool. You can keep unopened bottles in the fridge. Don't do this after it's opened.

    I use epoxy only occasionally. I don't like the viscosity and the smell. I'm used to the sharp chemical odor of CA. Epoxy is just rank. ;->

    7. Sandpaper. I do 80 grit, 120, 220, 320 and 400. I have some of rolled adhesive stuff from Stew Mac but it's pricey. If your inlays have metal (silver, aluminum, etc) you're probably going to want to have some finer grits. 600, 800, 1200. It depends on what sort of finish you want them to have.

    8. A rigid sanding block. Anything flat of the right size can be used.

    9. Safety glasses. Carbide is extremely brittle. I've broken 3 end mills this year. You don't want one embedded in your eye. Yeah, regular eye glasses or even a magnifying headset is probably ok. Just don't do it nekkid.

    10. A shop vac is helpful to suck up the mess you make

    11. Lots of light! You're routing a dark hole in dark wood. Seeing what you're doing is half the battle.


    CUTTING

    1. A pattern! I make mine on the computer and print them out on regular 20lb copy paper.

    2. X-acto knife and #11 X-acto blades (or anything similar) to cut out the patterns. The fine point on the #11 blade helps because you can just stab the pattern to pick it up and place it on the material.

    3. CA glue to glue pattern to material.

    4. Some material. You can use anything you can cut with your saw, but it should be hard enough to survive being on a fretboard. If you want shell to practice, check ebay. Swanks used to sell scrap. Look here: Raw Material Listing

    5. A Jeweler's saw frame. I like 4" German adjustables.
    [​IMG]

    6. Lots of jeweler's piercing saw blades (not scroll saw blades). For brands I like Scies. Anything but Herkules will do because they suck for shell. For gauges, I usually use 3/0, 6/0 and 8/0 depending on how detailed the design is. You will break them. A lot. They're not like band saw blades where breaking one is a big deal. Even a pro will go through many blades in the course of a day. They simply don't last that long. They either go terminally dull or they break.

    7. A bench pin or V-block. Stew Mac sells a little one - in fact they even have an inlay starter kit... but I don't like the aquarium pump schnozzle that essentially points right at you. BREATHING SHELL DUST IS BAD. No, it's not "toxic", it doesn't cause cancer, etc. It all-natural. It's just that the dust particles are really sharp. They're like tiny little shuriken. Short term: get this crap in your eyes and you can abrade a cornea... particularly if you wear contact lenses. I know. I've done it.

    Long term: They stick in your lungs and this really pisses your lungs off. You start to build up layers of mucous and you end up getting a condition similar to people who breathe asbestos.

    I made my own bench pin from some scrap wood. It has the world's most simple shop vac attachment.

    [​IMG]

    8. Tunage! Headphones if you have a nasty 'vac. My Fein is actually pretty quiet so I can crank the tunes up to cover it.

    9. Patience.

    ...Ath
     
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  10. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    Thats alot of information!!! THANK YOU! Im going to copy this all over to a wordpad on my desk top....
    I saw a video where this guy took pictures of birds in flight.. Printed them out and traced around them for Custom Bird inlays like PRS guitars.... Being a graphic design student.. I love the idea of designing inlay designs on computer!
    I like your custom made bench vblock with the shopvac hose mod! very smart! Thanks Again For the time you put into your reply!
     
  11. AthenaInlay

    AthenaInlay ss.org irregular

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    No problem. It's a Pay It Forward thing for me. Larry Robinson has and continues to help me, even though I'm essentially competition. I feel so incredibly lucky to be friends with the best in the business. It only makes sense to pass it on.

    If you're a graphic design student, then you've got it made. Once you get past the mechanics of it, the most important thing is a good design. It's an interesting medium with it's own challenges.

    Have fun!

    ...Ath
     
  12. Corpsegrinder88

    Corpsegrinder88 Jackson Whore

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    Amen!! Im glad i have bumped threads with you.. LOL You have indeed helped me get ready for the next level.. Thank you again!!

    Bob
     
  13. Evil7

    Evil7 LowCrushingMetal

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    Im glad first off you searched to find this thread... Im also happy this thread will help you as much as it has me... Still gathering tools... I had zero interest in wood working ect .. until reading build posts on ss.org..... Inlay is the ultimate customization!
     

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