Headstock inlay

Got a new way of doing something? Or maybe an old method that needs some clarification.

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Bullet
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Headstock inlay

Post by Bullet » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:29 pm

Hi guys, does anyone have any advice for getting familiar with how to do basic headstock inlays. I want to just do a cursive script name on the headstock.

Cheers, Jason

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Nick
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Nick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:32 am

Bullet wrote:Hi guys, does anyone have any advice for getting familiar with how to do basic headstock inlays. I want to just do a cursive script name on the headstock.

Cheers, Jason
"Practice" is the most important word that I can offer.
If it's traditional shell inlay you want to do then get hold of some shell from either http://www.mopsupplies.com/ in Australia or if you want to start with precut inlays (for practicing cutting the pocket) then http://www.luthiersupply.com/ De Paules are really good & cheap for what you are getting (these guys are an American company but ship from their production shop in Vietnam so circumvent all the US shell export bollocks).

If you want to cut your own then a jewellers saw is a pre-requisite, I got mine from Stewmac but I'm sure others can suggest alternate suppliers. For starting out I'd get some fine blades too. If your final inlay has a lot of tight corners or small intricate bits then order a set of extra fine blades at the same time for Ron.
My process is as follows-
-Draw onto paper the logo/inlay you want making sure it will fit onto your blank (I have a standard logo I use so I used photo editing software to reproduce my original logo multiple times to fit on an A4 sheet then photocopied multiple sheets)
-cut around the logo/script fairly closely and then glue it (I use titebond but any PVA type will do) to the shell blank.
- Make a backing board to hold the shell on while cutting it. I made one from a scrap of 10mm MDF about 80-90mm wide and any length, this doesn't matter it only has to be long enough to hold in a vice. Then I just drilled an 8mm hole close to one end then ran a slot from the hole out to the end so you effectively have a 'keyhole' that runs out the end
- Cut out inlay from shell using the jewellers saw (this is the bit that requires practice!),hold the shell down onto the board (I just use two fingers either side of the cut) & try and keep the saw moving up and down vertically!If you twist at all you will break a blade! The other thing that's sure to break a blade is if you don't hold the shell down tightly enough and it kicks up while cutting! Believe me I found these two facts out from practice :oops:
The books will tell you to rotate or move the shell whilst keeping the blade cutting, rightly or wrongly I also move the blade and turn the frame as well as needed, it works for me.
-Any 'holes' inside your inlay, pre drill a small hole. The blade can easily be removed from the frame so put it through the pre-drilled hole and fix back in the frame to cut out these inner holes
*Make sure you wear at least a suitable mask when cutting shell but ideally some sort of suction device near the cut. The waste from shell is extremely fine & easily inhaled!*
-After you've cut out the inlay it may require 'cleaning up' to straighten out wavy cuts or incorrect curves. Hold the inlay tightly down on the board with the section that needs cleaning up over the 8mm hole and use a needle file to clean up the edge, don't rub the file on the shell on the upcut, this will risk breaking the shell on finer sections, only cut on the downcut!
-Once the inlay has been cut & you are happy with the outline I mix up a little yellow poster paint (the powdered stuff you mix up for your children's early painting exploits, with a bit of warm water) and paint it on the face that is to be inlayed. Only do the area you want, no need to do the whole face!
-When the poster paint has fully dried I put the shell inlay I've cut onto the face & position it where I want it to go.
-While carefully holding the shell down I trace around the inlay with a sharp scriber (I have a very fine purpose made inlay scriber available again from Stewmac but any finely tapered sharp point will do, old points from a marking gauge will do or a machinist's scribe). This will leave a line in the yellow paint to follow in the next step.
- Mount a cutter of suitable diameter (I use downcut bits because it doesn't fuzz up the top edge of my cut and leaves a nice clean cut) into my Foredom (Dremel is ideal for this also, I used one for years before getting the foredom) which is mounted in a router style base(ignore the bit and edge guide, I copied directly from Stewmacs site)
Precision_Router_Base_sm.jpg
Precision_Router_Base_sm.jpg (26.4 KiB) Viewed 8474 times
I set my depth of cut to not quite the full thickness of my shell (0.060" shell= 0.040-0.050" depth), we want to remove a small amount of shell in the final step, this way it will be perfectly level with the headstock face. I carefully begin routing my pocket. You can go slightly outside your lines but try not to make a habit of it otherwise when you come to the filling step you will end up with a lot of filler which will be obvious!
IMG_1427.jpg
IMG_1427.jpg (63.7 KiB) Viewed 8474 times
Again this is part of the practice I spoke of earlier and for your test/scrap/first inlays you may wish to practice on scrap!
- Keep nibbling away at the inlay pocket until the shell fits nicely in it.
- Before gluing the inlay in lightly sand off the poster paint, any that is sitting in grain pores can be removed with a damp cloth. We want to remove any traces of paint now because it may become trapped in the pores after the next step & will show up!
- Mix up some epoxy (I use the 24 hour Araldite) and mix in a little fine sawdust from any scrap of the same veneer or material that is on the headstock face. This makes the epoxy almost the same colour as our headstock face when dry & any gaps a little less obvious!
-Fill your pocket with the mixed epoxy, not too much but enough that when you put the shell in the epoxy oozes out & fills any gaps. Ideally you want a line of ooze out all around the outline of your inlay.
-Leave to dry for 24hours then file off the excess epoxy leaving your filing slightly proud of the surface, then finish off by sanding (filing is good for getting the bulk of the excess off but we don't want to mark our face!) down to the face.
Earlier inlay complete.jpg
Earlier inlay complete.jpg (25.92 KiB) Viewed 8474 times
IMG_1443.jpg
IMG_1443.jpg (45.16 KiB) Viewed 8474 times
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peter.coombe
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:09 am

Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
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Nick
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Nick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:46 am

I will add that if you plan on using a light coloured face on your headstock that the pocket must be very close fitting. Any sawdust mixed with epoxy will darken up and will show up as a dark line on the lighter woods.

Good pictorial too Pete, sums things up nicely. Don't have all the pics necessary for a full pictorial tute that's why mine was a bit word heavy but pictures do tell a clearer story. :D
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Bullet » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:56 pm

Guys fantastic advice and very impressive

Thank you heaps...I'm on the start of a very long journey !

Cheers Jason

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John Maddison
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by John Maddison » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:57 am

peter.coombe wrote:Here it is in pictures
http://www.petercoombe.com/Headstock_inlay.htm
Peter
Hi Peter ... In that online tute you mention the 'Target' range of products for filling and finishing. Where do you source same?

Cheers & thanks
John M

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peter.coombe
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by peter.coombe » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:51 am

Target Coatings is the company name. I used to source them direct from Target Coatings in the USA but they have stopped shipping international. I complained bitterly but it fell on deaf ears. Stew Mac stock some of their products such as EM2000 which is the varnish I use. Unfortunately they don't stock the filler any more.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

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Kim
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Kim » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:57 am

Bunnings carry some of the Target range, or use to, they don't seem to have near as mush these days. But Masters hardware had a pretty good range last time I was there and they also carry a bit of Libron stuff and larger bottle of good CA at a reasonable price.

Cheers

Kim

Stephen McLean
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Stephen McLean » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:33 am

Hi,

This is the way I do my headstock inlays - I used a laser cutter for this one but it can be done in a similar way using scroll/fret saws or even drilling a hole for inserting circular badge or button.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8gvlRJC ... dfZ4l9cqwg

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Nick
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Nick » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:31 pm

Stephen McLean wrote:Hi,

This is the way I do my headstock inlays - I used a laser cutter for this one but it can be done in a similar way using scroll/fret saws or even drilling a hole for inserting circular badge or button.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8gvlRJC ... dfZ4l9cqwg
Nice,thanks Stephen and welcome to the forum by the way. I noticed you used Titebond III in the vid, any specific reason for using that over the original (just pure curiosity)?
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by simso » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:52 pm

Stephen, no close up at the end.

I find lasers are no good for inlaying with, whilst they give a tight cut, the edges of the wood are always charcoaled as a result of the laser cutting through the material, any areas where you join the two pieces of wood will have a black border between them, they are good for inlaying dark woods like rosewood or ebony as you cannot notice the difference, but not light woods

To this end if you are inserting it into an existing headplate you cannot reverse laser cut, you have to route or chisel away the material

Also co2 lasers (what most people have) are no good for cutting pearl stone or other decorative metals like brass aluminium and so on.

I think for anyone doing inlaying the best trick is marking out and routing.
Steve
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Kamusur » Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:56 am

Steve, Simso if you don't mind what sort of bits d/cut, end mills or burrs have you found most useful for inlay work.

Steve

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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by simso » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:50 am

Nothing has even come close to those bits offered by precise bits

Steve

http://www.precisebits.com/products/car ... /shell.asp
Steve
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Kamusur » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:52 am

Thanks for that Steve.

Steve

Stephen McLean
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Re: Headstock inlay

Post by Stephen McLean » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:22 pm

Nick wrote: Nice,thanks Stephen and welcome to the forum by the way. I noticed you used Titebond III in the vid, any specific reason for using that over the original (just pure curiosity)?
Thanks,
No reason really - it's just what I had closest to me at the time.

You do get a dark edge around the laser cut, I'd love to have a cnc router and I'm yet to try doing a hand routered inlay.

Steve

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