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Maple Inlays In An Ebony Fingerboard

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Hey guys I just have a quick question. I just started this build and I am using an Ebony fingerboard and I am going to do some inlay work with some maple. I have seen this done before but I just wanted to get some opinions on what I should do about keeping the maple from getting dirty or oxidizing? This guitars finish will be tru-oil. I have worked with maple boards before and sprayed lacquer on them or oil finish. My initial idea was to just apply some thin coats of tru-oil just to the maple parts and leave the ebony but I didn't know if that would look good. Should I tru-oil the whole fingerboard?


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tru oil will keep it clean for a while - but your real issue comes well before that.

Its rather hard to sand an ebony/maple board without getting ebony dust ground into the maple, so if you dont do this right its going to be dirty grimy maple from the start

basically you will need to scrape the inlays with the sharpest razor blade you can find, but gently enough not to reshape the fretboard or leave scraper marks that need sanding out. razor blades are particularly good for this because you can hold them in a slight bend to better match the radius

i would seriously consider inlaying a scrap piece of maple into a scrap piece of ebony to get practice with this before you do it for real. perfectly possible but the technique takes a little practice which could cost you more work on the fretboard if you don't do it on scrap first

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that will certainly help, especially if the inlays are pre-radiused and inlayed as close to flush as possible - if you have to sand more than a mm or so then you can easily be back to raw maple even with a good soaking of thin CA - depends on the wood

also not a bad idea to do that once installed to keep the feel of the ebony and CA soaked maple the same and prevent the need for a finish

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Hey Ryan,

I used maple in a ebony board with this inlay. It did get a whiska of ebony dust ingrained, but after polishing up the fretboard to 2000 grit paper, i used some metho and a rag and gave the maple a real good scrub. Then with a cotton bud finished just the maple with some tung oil. I think 3 coats in all. Playing will render the maple a little dirty but when i change my strings i always give my fretboards a good scrubbing with a toothbrush and some instrument polish and finished with a wipe of lemon oil. This usually brings it back to being fairly clean like in this pic.


Wes has basically covered the other issues above and a bit of practice with some scrap is great advice. Try Prostheta's idea with some CA glue aswell i reckon he could be onto something and it might save you finishing it. Hope this has helped.


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