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Block Inlays .... Advice ?

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As the title suggests,I'm going to attempt my first set of block inlays.

My main concern is the thickness , or in this case, thinness of the inlays Vs. the radius of the neck.

The inlays are from Stewmac, the LP custom set in Abalone. The radius is 12" .

I'm concerned about the taper after they are in the board. Fearful that I might make the edges really thin after sanding them to the fretboard radius. :D

Anyone have any words of advice?

I've done dot inlays before,but never blocks.

They're going in a rosewood board, but it may get dyed black just for aesthetics .

Thanks in advance. :D

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I cadded this out. In a "perfect" scenario on a 12" radius board, with a block set that is .050" thick, your 21st fret block you will have .032" of thickness left on the edges after sanding. Personally, I dont like using inlay that is thinner than .060" on a 12" board. If you havent ordered from StuMac yet, I would look elsewhere for a thicker set. I'm sure you can find a .060" set for less $$.

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Ahhhh .the kiss of death ,lol. I already have them, but haven't started routing the board yet.

It'll be cheaper to get a new set of inlays than a new board ,nut and bridge. :/

I can save these for a 16" build in the future,I guess.

You live, you learn.


FWIW , to me , getting advice from someone on your level of inlaying is like getting to talk with the wise man on the mountain without having to make the climb. That rocks. :D

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Some species of pearl are more translucent than others. You dont have to worry so much with abalone. If you use a black epoxy, or black CA glue on a lighter color like white, it can effect the luster if it gets too thin, or if you are doing a scrimshaw. My opinion is: the thicker, the better...especially on a radius. I was ordering from DePaule until he moved. Now, everything I order comes in with fishers & cracks.

So, now I order all of my inlay materials from JoAnn at Rescue Pearl. I can call her to see what she has in stock that's not listed on the website. You can get a really nice set of .060" Paua for $45+ shipping...sometimes less. Last week I ordered 2 sets of a hard to find color in .080" thick...really nice stuff at a good price.

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  • 3 weeks later...

For what it is worth, if you are planning on pushing your pearl to its absolute limit because of a radius then avoid wavy (figured?) pearl. I borked a couple of inlays a few years back until I found that the plain stuff was more resilient. That then borked the consistency up, but hey.

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  • 4 weeks later...

If you draw a 12" arch And take the longest piece of the inlay set which is approx 1.3 " the distance from the top of the arch to the inlay is approx .02. Meaning you will loose .02" on each end (This is just an estimate as I am no math teacher). That is if you correctly cut the inlay slot and make sure you are not removing material from the center of the board you should be OK. If you use a compound radius even better as the longest piece is lower on the neck.

Unless you expect to cut through the inlay abalone as mentioned is not translucent like MOP and is more forgiving if you are getting close to the other side of the piece. The only issue is if the pieces are not similar on both sides as the pattern can change.

Its nice to have the extra .01" but honestly if you make a mess of it: .01" is not going to help you or make it that much easier

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