Inlays can make or break the look of a guitar. Of course taste is a big factor but so is craftsmanship. This guitar was handmade by Joe Lazar, a customer of ours, while taking a class with Charles Fox at the American School of Lutherie. You can see the build process here bloodfretandtears.com. The headstock looked empty so we were asked to make a design before it went off to finish. The owner has a thing for squirrels and acorns. After some discussion Aaron and Joe finalized the design and Aaron did the inlay work.
The finished product looks great but don’t forget making inlays is a lot of work. Here is how the process goes down.
Draw design on tracing paper and super glue the paper to some pearl.
Patiently and carefully cut it with a jewelers saw.
Take the shape and trace it onto the wood with a mechanical pencil.
Use a dremel with a router base. Set depth a few thousandths shallower than pearl. This is so when the pearl is set in it can be sanded level.
We usually route with a 16th inch bit for the bulk and a .020″ for fine details.
Place the pearl in the recess. Glue it down with super glue. We mixed ebony dust in the glue to match the color. Black super glue would also work.
Sand it flat with a sanding block. Increase grit successively up to 800 then hit it with steel wool.
Now it’s ready to be sent to finishing!