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Minimum Inlay Thickness To Be Left After Sanding?


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I'm planning out some inlay on some fingerboards. I'd like to do an inlay like what I did on a bass previously, ( a few years ago ) but I'd like to do it right. Originally, the bass' inlay arose out of having not enough pearl left for blocks, so I cut strips of pearl out of the bits I had left, and made hollow squares out of these strips. (As I got towards the end of the neck, these turned into strips, rather than the hollow squares, as varying the thickness of the outline to make the squares smaller yet still fit didn't look right at all.) Anyway, I'd like to do this again - I think I can do a much better job, and I think it could look cool.

I'm looking at doing this on a matching guitar and bass set. The plan is to buy purfling strips, rather than cutting my own strips to ensure a more uniform width. I've been experimenting on scrap and what not.

So anyway, trying to plan this out, the guitar one should be not much of a problem. The bass one is throwing me for a loop though - since the neck is planned to be a standard 4 string jazz bass style, (although with a 12-inch radius) I figured I could use a block-inlay jazz bass as a basis to get some of my measurements from. Like these: One (look towards the bottom of the page) Two (this is actually a five string)

Thing is, planning things out, it seems like with the standard .050" thickness pearl available at Stew Mac and LMI, I'm going to come dangerously close to sanding through the pearl when I radius the board.

I haven't been able to go measure an actual block inlay jazz bass yet, but doing rough measurements using pictures I can find, I'm not even sure some of the block inlays I've seen could be made out of a standard thickness piece of pearl w/o sanding through.

So anyway, long ramble aside - it looks like I'll need to plan my inlay around what sort of width I can get while maintaining an appropriate thickness of pearl. If the look I want is unattainable that way, I'll have to experiment with using multiple pieces of pearl to obtain the width across the width of the board, which is also an option, I guess. (Staggering the height or cutting the base of the cavity at an angle to work with the fretboard radius better.) So the question remaining - is there a certain thickness I should plan on as the miniumum thickness of hte pearl after sanding the radius on the board? Obviously, I want to be conservative on any numbers, to allow for whatever happens during sanding, but as far as planning out how the inlay should go - any thoughts?

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You can get several standard thicknesses. If you are concerned and as a general rule you should try to use .06" shell. Take a look at MOP supplies if you are looking for white mopMOP Supplies. Also look at Andy Depaules siteDepaule. Everything you get from Andy will be top notch material.

As you will see you can order 1mm, 1.25mm, 1.5mm(.04',.05",.06"). For radiused FB's .06" is best. .04" is nice for flat surfaces because you get more coverage per. ounce of shell you purchase. As far as how thin you can go. It depends on the shell. At a point it will become transparent and you will see the wood behind it. You can get pretty thin with white MOP before that happens. You should try a test with a strip and scrap wood to confirm min. tolerance.

Peace,Rich

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