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Metallic Inlays?


PLUCKyou
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Hi Guys.

Use real metals. You can buy sheet stock (.05" or any other) of any metal on the market, from gold to copper. Treat it like any other inlay material. It cuts with a jewler's saw. They are actually designed for cutting metals, not pearl.

Craig Lavin

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I have tried to use solder for inlays but have been unsucessful. The biggest problems are that the solder/soldering iron burns the wood and you could end up with discolorations. Also, solder doesn't like to flow easily, it tends to ball up and looks like a ball bearing instead of flowing into the cavity. Some key points to note if you do decide to try it:

1. Make sure the solder is lead free, or you may end up with lead poisoning some day. You can get lead free solder at any hardware store.

2. I have only tried rosin core solder. The rosin tends to spatter and leave hard crystals wherever it lands (it almost looks like tiny dried glue specs). I don't know about acid core or pure solder without any rosin/acid. If you try these types of solder and it works well, let me know.

3. Yes solder does sand easily, since it is so soft, because of this there may be a potential for denting it if you hit the inly fairly hard with the guitar string while playing.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks...I'll probably test it out on some scraps of what i'm using for the fretboard but i dont' know if it will really be all that i hoped for...I'll let you know if it goes well...

Are there any substances you can pour into a spot you want to inlay that set up like an acrylic inlay or w/e...i want to do some intricate stuff and i think that would be the way to go if it's possible...thanks

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I've used sterling silver on a couple of fretboards. I buy them pre-cut to 1/4" diameter. I've also used sheet silver and cut it as described above. The only tricky thing about using that stuff is that you really have to be careful with the coarse grit sanding. You need to start using the finer grades before you get close to being flush with the board. If you continue to use the coarse grits until flush, you probably won't be able to get the scratches out of the silver/metal inlay.

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You can pour a material into your inlay cavity but it's difficult to get good results. Your edges will need to be spot on otherwise the inlay material will show up any slight errors. It is difficult to get it flat and neat too.

I'd stick with cutting out the inlay shapes using an jeweler's saw like Clavin mentioned above. You could try using plastic for your inlay - its cheap and easy to work with and can give good results.

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well if your looking for something cheap adn easy woudlnt it make sense to just get a 2 part expoxy that dries clear or white then jsut add some kind of dye or tint to get ti to your desired color....if you had a clear expoxy your could ad glitter or something to give it depth.

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I'm not terribly worried about the price...but i'll probably experiment with these ideas and see what works the best

You can mix metal powder with epoxy and fill that way. One problem with using a molten metal pour is that the metal will shrink noticeably when it cools. This isn't a problem on a non-wear surface, but a fingerboard can have issues after a while.

Use solid metal where you can. It's not that hard. If cost is no issue it's the way to go. Platinum is really pricey stuff but available from jeweler's suppliers. Gold and silver ditto.

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i've had good experiences with copper, silver and thin aluminum. i've also tried various additives to epoxy with varying results. indian ink blends well, glitter tends to settle to the bottom and crushed stone works very well and is available in quite a few colors from woodturning catalogs. i've never tried solder but i had a buddy that had an old dentist's almalgamator and used the silver tooth filling amalgom with spectacular results. keep in mind most of his stuff was very fine so he wasn't filling large cavities.

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Ok, metalic inlays.

1. This is my easy aluminum dot inlay for fret boards. Using aluminum rods and a corresponding diameter brad point or forestner bit. Cut your hole to a depth of a 1/16" for a fret marker, 1/8" for side marker. Using a jeweler's fret saw, cut a little more than you need off the rod. A little drop of yellow glue does work with excelent result on most fret board woods to hold the aluminum. And it is less mess. Don't kill yourself using an epoxy or super glue. The marker should fit nice and tight. You may need to tap the round into the hole. Once you have wiped the excess glue, and there will be regardless of how little glue you do use, let it sit for 10 minutes. The excess metal can be filed flush and taken through to a 400 or 600 grit paper and polished along with the wood using 0000 steel wool. A near mirror finish an be acheived. For an historical example of this technique, look at the markers on Danelectro made Silvertones.

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This is what I used on my Ibanez clone:

Santa Fe Jewelers Supply

They are thin but certainly workable. I've also bought some from a local jeweler who managed to find much thicker discs. I used CA glue but the jeweler I bought them from suggested using epoxy instead.

Just make sure you switch to a fine grit before you get too close to being flush with the fretboard.

I did mine after the board was radiused. With thicker pieces, you could install them before radiusing.

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Stainless might be a little hard if not impossible to cut with a jewelers saw, you probably would do better with a CNC or a Laser cutter for stainless, carbide cutters work best with stainless, but mild steels can be cut with a jewelers saw, I have used steel for the last guitar I did and I cut the dots (stainless) on a lathe myself, but the logo and 12th fret are a mild steel. Jewelers saw works really well with about .030" up to about .050" thick.

Steel inlays

Edited by Ragasguitars
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Sterling silver is relatively cheap, cuts and works much, much better, and polishes out almost exactly the same color as stainless steel. There's no sense in using steel, when there is silver. I cut it with a .03 to .06 blades, and use about a .06 thickness.

I have used copper, brass, silver, and other metals in my inlays. Both alone and in conjunction with other materials. The most important thing is to not let it heat up too much during sanding, otherwise they will lift due to expansion, especially bezel type thickness.

Go here to see more.

www.handcraftinlay.com

My 2 cents

Craig Lavin

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ragasguitars: that guitar is amazing and i've never thought to use the lathe, that would be pretty simple..

I'll have to look into that silver too...thanks guys

What's the best way to carve out the shape in the wood and what do ya use to glue it in there?? Thanks

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when using steel, i found that CA glue worked best, especially with the stainless, first of all it was a pain in the ass to sand, then it heated up too much and softened the epoxy and came loose, so CA glue works best. I used a drill for dots in ebony, and dremel downcut bits too. On that guitar I had the link to, the logo was done with an exacto knife, the buckeye I used is super soft and the exacto blade worked perfectly epecially for all those thin points. Thanks

Edited by Ragasguitars
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For almost all of this stuff I'd use CA. I'm the first to admit that I screw up and have to re-do things. Epoxy has to be mechanically chisled out. CA can be disolved with acetone.

To cut metal use a jeweler's scroll saw and make a"bird's mouth" support. Take a piece of half inch thick maple about three or four inches wide and about a foot long. Drill a 1/8 inch hole aabout an inch and a half or so from the bottom edge. Cut a narrow "V" shape that starts at the hole. Clamp the thing down to a bench so the "V" hangs over. Keep the blade in the hole while you're cutting. This supports the metal and helps keep the edges form curling down leaving a flat piece to inlay.

I agree abaout the stainless just being way too hard to work with with normal hand tools. You really should have either laser or plasma cutters.

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