Guitar Build 7: Fretboard Inlays

[From the build on 1/5/2017] This week we worked more as a team and began concentrated time on our fretboards.

Using the acrylic template, Ryan drew a line along the front edge of the bodies where the neck will join. Here we differ slightly from the standard Les Paul, in which the tangent to the top curve is vertical where it joins the neck. Our curve curls under just a bit, giving the body a distinctive look. That also means a different angle for the front edge. Ryan cut on the bandsaw then finished on a belt sander. (Thanks Ryan!)img_4224

Meanwhile, Ted took the mahogany stock we used for our bodies to cut blanks for our necks—standard face joint, plane, edge joint, rip cut prep. He also ripped a trough precisely in the center that will hold the truss rod.

Most of the night was consumed with fretboards. Rather than center dots, Ted set us up for edge inserts at all the standard frets (3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, and 19), with a double insert at the 12. We started by marking the cut lines, then moved to the drill press where a bit exactly matching the inlays was installed. The depth of this cut is critical—it must be deep enough so that when the (fretboard and fret markers) are sanded we don’t sand through the inlay on the edge, but not so deep that the cut exceeds the height of the inlay. As always, set up is crucial.

After making the cuts, we rounded the corners of the inlay pieces so they would fit exactly into the routed grooves in the fretboard. To do this, we simply rounded them with sandpaper by hand. The inlay is paoa abalone, but I tried not to go for the really colorful parts so that the marker would still have significant contrast against the ebony fretboard.

Next, the Superglue. I hate Superglue! Commitment is hard enough, but commit with a deadline in 45 seconds is the pits. We used 20 Superglue, applied with a toothpick to get it into the groove, then set the inlay pieces in one by one. And that’s where we left it for the night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s