Guitar Making Tip No. 838

Guitar Making Tip No. 838 is about producing good inlay work. Inlay is a tedious craft, but you can produce absolutely gorgeous works of art at the top levels. In the beginning, you can still do good work, you just need to do a couple things. Here is what you need.

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Inspect Your Inlay Work

guitar making tip number 838People love looking at inlays. They bring their face right up close, and they really inspect them heavily. This is the nature of anything beautiful. People are going to look hard.

One way that you can ensure you are giving them something nice to look at is to inspect your inlays better than they will. After you are done, get really close and try to find errors and gaps.

As you find them, make a plan to address them, and keep on inspecting until you are sure that you have found everything.

Most inlays are easy to repair. The process is simple, and if you have a little patience you can disguise most small problems with a quick one step solution. Here is what you need to do after you find places that did not quite get the level of detail you were after…

Fill Inlay Gaps With Epoxy

Most of the problems that you will encounter with inlays have to do with filling. An inlay piece will not be the same size as the cavity, and you end up seeing a gap. It’s ok, and it happens to the best of us.

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The easy way to make these small gaps go away is to use tinted epoxy. This will allow you to fill in the areas that need it, and the background color will blend right in. In this way, small defects nearly disappear.

In the beginning, you may need more filler than you are comfortable admitting, but as long as you get better at the process you are going to be fine. Inlay work is it’s own craft, and can take a while to learn at the better levels.

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How to Make and Use Your Epoxy Filler

Making the filler is a fairly easy process. You are making a mixture that will be dripped into the gaps, and it matches the color of the background wood. Here is how you do it.

First, select an epoxy with enough open time. I recommend 60 minute epoxy unless you are really comfortable moving quickly. Add powders to the epoxy to tint the color. I typically use Mohawk powders, but there are many options that you can find in a local woodworking store or online.

Mix the epoxy and hardener with the tinting agent until you hit the background color. This is the color of the wood that the inlay is glued into. Then, carefully drip or press the mixture into the gaps, and allow it to dry.

Finishing up the Inlay

After the epoxy cures, which is typically 24-48 hours, you can start sanding. Use a block and sand through the excess epoxy. Sand until the surface is level, and the excess has been removed.

At this point, inspect your inlay again. If you still have gaps, repeat the process. If you do not, then you should notice the inlay looking a lot nicer than last time. Without any gaps, an inlay looks a lot more professional, and much more well made.

Epoxy tends to take a lacquer just fine, but you may want to add a layer of sealer to the area before the lacquer coats. This will help even out the surface and give the lacquer something to bite onto that is more uniform. I typically use EZ-Vinyl for this part.

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