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Chipped Block Inlay


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Yesterday, I inlaid a Les Paul style set of MOP blocks into an ebony fretboard. It went pretty well. Today, I was sanding a 12" radius into the fretboard and one of the inlay blocks chipped off a corner. Should I:

1. attempt to route it out with my Dremel and install a replacement (lol)?

2. fill in the corner and pretend its a design feature?

3. throw it away and start over?

4. get a new hobby?

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Drill out the main areas to the proper depth, leave the edges. Put super glue remover around the edges-top and from the inside- leave sit overnight.

In the morning take an exacto knife and pry apart the shell border remaining. Clean out the edges, clean out the glue remover, and install a new one.

If it's in ebony you can easily hide any new damage with good size dust. You should have little damage.

I would use a large router bit to drill out the shell. Not drill bits. You want large even areas of coverage. If you go a bit too deep just fill in with ebony dust to raise the new inlay to the proper height.

1) This will work

2) If it doesn't add more glue remover

3) I hope you used super glue putting them in

4) If you didn't epoxy should be soft enough to just re-rout the edges if you drilled them think enough from the inside out.

Best of luck, I'm here if you need me. :D

Craig Lavin

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Craig, many thanks. I was hoping you would reply. :D

I did use CA to install the inlays, and I have some CA remover handy. I have a new 1/8" router bit for my Dremel that I bought for some reason yesterday, so I'll plan to use that with the Dremel router base to control the depth. I'm going to get started.

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It was a big chip. Basically the whole corner of the block.

Following Craig's advice, I cleaned out the cavity and it came out good. I have cut a piece of pearl and am now working on it to smooth the edges and to get it to match the opening.

The original inlay was 0.050" and the piece I'm cutting now is 0.060" because that is all I have. So when I've got the piece to fit I'll have to deepen the pocket. That will be harder now that the fretboard is radiused. Oh well, its a learning and the price for screwing up.

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Don't deepen the pocket, just inlay it as is, you'll just shave off a bit of the top, and bring it down to .05 thickness anyway. The main thing is to keep the inlay edges in the wood, even though that can be thickness related, it shouldn't matter much in this case.

Don't make more work for yourself.


Glad to hear everything else went well.

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I finished the inlay replacement and it came out fine. Thank goodness for good advice.

I did go ahead and route the pocket deeper to handle the thicker pearl. I think my original inlay was too thin after routing out a pocket for the 0.050" pearl and then sanding to flatten and then to radius. Basically, I think I oversanded so I needed to deepen the pocket.

In any case, a very useful learning experience and I enjoyed the work. My next project has a Chinese character to be inlaid centered on the12th fret, and it will be more challenging than block inlay.

Here is a pic of the repaired fretboard.


Edited by johnsilver
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Good job!

That looks great. :D

I realize a lot can be missed form a picture, but if your happy with the results that's all that matters.

It's harder to repair a sand through in the center of a multi-piece inlay, but it can be accomplished with the same techniques.

Craig L

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