Guitar Making Tip No. 822 is about inlaying a signature. When you have to inlay a signature, using the epoxy method is by far the easiest way. All you have to do with this method is get the cavity right. If you can do that, everything else will work out.
Complex Inlays and Signatures
However, the big problem is that the tool for that job is very expensive, and not everyone can afford it.
The alternative is to create your inlays with a liquid, and create a cavity that is shaped like the final look of the inlay.
With epoxy inlay, you can create amazing looking inlays that are actually much easier than they look. The process is the same for the cavity as a regular inlay, but that is where the similarity ends. With epoxy inlay, all the hard work is done away with…
The Problem With Complex Inlay
The big problem that you run into when you are doing a complex inlay is the fit. You can cut out your pieces and create your cavity, but at some point them need to come together. This is where the fit has to be right.
Even if you work on the pieces really hard, you will inevitably still have to come back and refine them to get the fit. You might also have to fill in the gaps with colored epoxy to hide them. It’s all part of inlay work.
The issue is not with learning inlay. If you want to learn the craft, you can have a beautiful and long career. However, if you want to get through it a little faster, you can use the epoxy inlay technique instead.
The epoxy inlay technique is simply where you create the cavity and then you pour the inlay material inside while a liquid. It’s not really any more involved than that, and if you can get the cavity right, the inlay will look right too.
There are a lot of places that sell tinted epoxy and pre-mixed epoxy that has small rocks and colored bits inside. The company that is the biggest in the field is called InLace, and they also sell just the ingredients too.
Essentially, the kits re just epoxy resin with the ingredients already mixed in the solution. When you make it your self, you create an epoxy mixture yourself. This counts rough in the beginning, but it’s just a matter of mixing all the ingredients with the epoxy.
See Also: InLace for Easy Inlays
Inlaying a Signature
The easiest way to inlay a signature is to use the epoxy method. However, you need to create your cavity first. For the cavity, the easiest way is to use a Dremel or a Router and a tiny spiral cutting bit. It’s also nice to have a router base for the Dremel.
First, draw out the signature on you piece of wood. You can also do this once on a scrap of the same species to see how it feels. Once you have the drawing, find a place to punch in with the bit, and then trace the line.
It’s best if your design has a continuous line, this way you don’t have to drop in over and over with the spinning bit. Follow the line carefully, and go slowly so you don’t create accidental dings that alter the look of the signature.
See Also: Wood Filler Inlay – Step-by-Step
Once you are done, turn off the tool carefully with the bit inside the cavity. Let it stop completely, and then remove the tool. It’s important to let the bit stop completely, because it can catch on the way out.
Remove the tool and check your work. Brush out the dust and wood debris, and inspect the cavity. In the end, you should have a cavity that is at least 1/8 inch deep, or deep enough to not show through the epoxy layer when filled.
If you have any areas that need additional work, go back to them and touch them up. Be careful though. The more areas that you need to get into and do over, the more chances you have of taking off more than you want.
Your homework is to try out a complex inlay with the Dremel tool, and use the epoxy method to create the look. Go online and take a look at the options that are available for InLace, and pick up some of the products.
You can start with a pre-mixed color, or start with your own epoxy and your own ingredients. It is a much easier process than traditional inlay, and you can really create a good look. If you mix your own, use a longer setting epoxy like 60 minute so you have time to mix and apply.
Try out the process on scraps first. The more you can do on scraps the better, and the practice is completely consequence free. If you mess up anything, it’s ok, it’s just scrap. When you are confident doing the inlay work on the scraps, you can move to the real thing.
Guitar Making Tip No. 822 Wrap-Up
Guitar making tip number 822 is about epoxy inlays for signatures. If you are going to a signature inlay, which is popular to see on the 12th fret, it can be a little tough. As a beginner, traditional inlay is nothing to take lightly.
Instead, think about doing an epoxy inlay. This is where you create the cavity like normal using a router or a Dremel tool. Then, you pour tinted epoxy into the opening, and let it set. Once cured, you sand everything flat, and you have a great looking inlay.
This method can make you look like a very good inlay artist in a very short amount of time. You only have to get one side of the equation right, and as long as you have a good looking cavity you will also have a good looking inlay. Much less time to master than traditional inlay too.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 822 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.
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.