Guitar Making Tip No. 746 is about gluing your inlay pieces. You need to make sure that you get glue in all the right places to properly adhere the inlay. You also need to make sure that you have enough to fill in any hairline gaps. Here is how you do it.
Gluing Inlay Pieces on the Guitar
This method ensures that you are getting glue everywhere that the new inlay piece will touch inside the cavity. The better the glue coverage, the better the inlay will adhere.
If you are working with wood inlays, then you should use wood glue for the adhesive. It’s easy to sand, easy to use, and will hold any wood to wood joint for a very long time.
If you are gluing wood and another material like shell, stone, or metal, then you want to use a good two part epoxy for your adhesive. Select an epoxy with an open time that you are comfortable with, and use it for your inlays. These adhesives will give you a strong inlay, but the real trick is in the way the extra adhesive squeezes out…
Use the Glue Squeeze Out to Your Advantage
When you apply glue to the walls and the floor of the cavity, you end up slightly overfilling the trench. This means squeeze out, and perfectly even squeeze out since the walls of the cavity were covered. When the glue presses out, it fills the small gaps in the inlay.
Glue will not overcome a gigantic gap, or a really poor inlay, but it can help you conceal the smaller stuff and make your inlays look better. Allow the glue squeeze out to rest on top of the inlay. If it’s really excessive, you can wipe a little of. However, most epoxy and glue is fairly easy to sand through if you leave it behind.
After it’s all dry, sand the surface level and check the work. If you had very small gaps, they should be filled with adhesive. They should also be nearly invisible when you apply a finish to the guitar.
When You Know You Have Large Gaps
If you have really large gaps, or you are brand new to inlay work, this can help you. Mix up a batch of epoxy and then tint it to match the color of the background wood. When you use this tinted adhesive, it will fill gaps and blend the color.
You can also come back after the sanding and leveling process and spot fill. This is simply mixing up a color matched sample of epoxy and then filling in the gaps where needed. Let the piece cure and then sand flush. If needed, repeat the process until every gap has been filled.
Obviously the worse the gaps, the worse this will look. It will hide most things from a distance, but up close anything really bad will still be visible. If you are struggling with your inlay work, just practice more. Also, don’t practice on a live guitar.
Practicing Your Inlay Work In a Safe Way
The safest way to practice inlay work is on a scrap piece of wood. Select a cutoff from a guitar back or a fretboard, and use that piece. The closer to the real thing that you can get for your practice piece, the better.
Now, go through the exact same process for inlaying as if this were a real guitar. Don’t take any shortcuts, don’t change the process, and take it seriously. Inlay this small scrap as if you needed to give it to someone you loved.
Do a couple inlay pieces at a time, and work them until they are finished. Afterwards, apply a coat of lacquer if the area would be coated on the guitar. In the case of a fretboard, add an oil if that’s how you finish your fretboards, or just leave it bare.
Once you get better on the scraps, you can switch to the real thing and have far better results. You will also be less nervous with the practice, and that alone will make you better at the inlaying.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 746 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.
If you have any questions about Guitar Making Tip No. 746, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please Subscribe so that you don’t miss out on anything new. Happy building.