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Dot Inlay Question

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The best thing I have used for dot markers is a router bit on a drill press. No wandering of the bit.

Perfect flat base. Try it on scrap.


Better yet, how about a drill bit in a drill press...

Use a 1/4" brad point bit, and the hammer method that Spoke spoke of. Works for me every time.

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I've always used lip-and-spur bits in a drill press located into a centre-punched indentation for accuracy. Usually my centre-punch consists of anything from a pin to a small tack ;-)

A router bit is not designed to work in a drill press and is unlikely to produce acceptable repeatable results.

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Add me to the "NO ROUTER BITS" chorus (I prefer brad points, FYI)

The router bit has a couple of very serious issues from a safety standpoint, non-centering not withstanding.

1. Router bits cut on the edges by slicing SIDEWAYS, which creates significant torque on the bit.

2. Drill bits, by contrast, cut with scraping/cutting edges that cut DOWN and OUT. This creates much less torque.

Most 3-jaw chucks are designed for vertical loads and light torque ONLY. Using an end mill or a router bit could (a) pull your spinning bit out of the chuck, (:D pull your chuck off it's tapered spindle, or (3) be generally not nice to your equipment.

Granted using flat-cutting cutters in wood is less of an issue than in metal, but this is why you never will never see end mills in drill presses in a respectable metal shop.

Be careful out there!


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There are alot of tutorials out there on youtube. In fact I just added my own to the list.

I have one on dot inlays, another on side markers, and a third on Finish sanding. For dot inlays,

I recommend using a forstner bit. To me, this is a foolproof way of getting a clean hole. My dot

inlays from Stewmac have always been exactly the advertised size. Here's how I do it:

1) Mark the location with a sharp point, like a punch or a sharp nail.

2) Use a forstner bit, which cuts a clean hole, and won't wander.

3) Press the dot into the hole. Don't tap it with a hammer, it will crack.

4) Leave the dot slightly high, or level. Never low.

5) Bond it in place after it is seated, with "thin" superglue.

6) File and sand it flat.

This has worked perfectly every time for me.

Please check out my three videos on youtube. They are new, and I would really love

some feedback, Good or Bad! You can find the fast by searching "PVX Guitars"

All the Best,

Paul Vogt

PVX Guitars

Charlotte, NC

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  • 2 months later...

Back to shell dots. Again I am a dealer. No matter how many suppliers I use they are all different sizes. Ideally the dots should be slightly undersize. In the old days they used to turn the dots as a cylinder. I think with the reduced availibity and asian suppliers most dots are core drilled or in some rare cases laser cut (very difficult except on the high end).

The bottom line is expect variation. Dots sizes are 4mm, 5mm 6mm, 6.35mm(1/4") and 7mm. +/- .02mm is about a standard variation.

The best method is own a good set of drill bits or many sets of bits. My first choice is a spur or brad point, buy a good expensive set. Calipers are your friend here. Check the bit and the hole as not all drill presses run true (chuck) nor do hand drill chucks(even worse).

As for hammering in dots, if you have no choice and the difference is slight it works fine. If the dot is way oversize use another bit. Shell will crack if forced to hard. Also have extra on hand anyway it goes down.

Good spur bits are available individually. I also suggest a cheap set of Letter and standard bits as well as metric. The more you have the easier your bit selection will be. Fostner bits are aso a requirement for guitar work (In my shop), but I have never tried them on dots, maybe next time.

i would never drill dot holes by hand, because you cant fully control the drill bit, the distance and depth without a drill press and a fence.

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