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First Inlay Job Help Please


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Looking at the pic, they're not perfect but they'll come up ok. They'll look a lot better than you expect.

You really won't know till you sand it back. Make sure you use plenty of rosewood in the epoxy.

If the board was plain black Ebony with your tolerance like that you'd never see it. Sttripy ebony shows up a bit more, Rosewood shows it up even more, then Maple shows up everything.

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The pearl inlays I get are in the 3/16" range, so maybe these are thicker too.

In any event, Chris is right - you want it as flush as possible. When I inlay, I don't use any clamping pressure because I don't want to risk breaking the inlay. I just push then as deep into the cavity as possible, making sure I put in enough epoxy to have plenty of squeeze-out. As a result, there is always a little "pad" of epoxy underneath the inlay itself which raises it just a bit. This covers me in case I set the depth too low.

TIP: glue the inlay in place with just a drop of c/a. Then score the outline as deep as possible with a fine point x-acto knife. CAREFULLY pry the inlay off with the x-acto. Fill the scored outline with chalk. This will serve as your routing pattern. If done right, you can have about 1/32" gap around the perimeter of the inlay. You can't really expect more than that without a CNC. Even if you get to 1/16" gap, it'll be a really close tolerance.... closer than you're getting now.

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Where in the WORLD are you getting 3/16" pearl?!?!?! That's almost as thick as the fretboard?!?! That's wasteful as heck, unnecessry, and also hard to find as she'll doesn't generally grow that thick. I don't think depaule supply and most other retailers even have anything over .1"

Or are you getting faux pearl?

Also, what are you guys talking about?! 1/16" gap around an inlay is HUGE. Your limit is NOT 1/32". With hand done inlay you can get the gap to essentially, visually zero with some practice!

Chris

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http://stores.ebay.com/dominicartinlay

These inlays were done largely by hand. Many have a 1/32" gap, which became mostly un-noticeable. At this stage of USMC's progression, 1/32" is a reasonable gap to shoot for. Granted, most of them aren't pearl, but the examples stand that the gap is within reasonable tolerances.

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You said "if done right, you CAN have a 1/32" gap around the perimeter." That leads someone new to believe that that's as good as it gets. Especially when you follow it up with "you really can't expect more than that without a CNC." Maybe YOU can't, but please do not teach your own short-comings new luthiers and phrase them in such a way that they're led to believe your word is fact.

Also, I looked at that site you posted where you get your pearl. I looked at 5-6 auctions before giving up trying to find 3/16" thick pearl. The stuff they're selling is 1.5mm thick. Which is ever so slightly thinner than ONE sixteenth of an inch.

Chris

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So.... why exactly are you trying to both pick a fight and run me down? If it's personal, show some class and take it private.

I've not only described the proper technique but shown what's possible when it's utilized correctly. It's impossible to have zero gap, even with a CNC; the hole must be larger than what's going into it, even if only by a fraction. Unless you're working with maple, 1/32" is well within reasonable tolerances for fretboard inlays which are glued in with epoxy.

I'm trying to point Hueston towards an achievable goal for his (apparent) current skill level. You and I can get it closer, but we certainly didn't start out that way, and neither does anyone else. Gauge your advice & expectation towards where someone is, not where you are. Getting to a 1/32" gap would be a great improvement. Next time, he could shoot for a tighter gap.

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I took issue with your blatantly wrong and poor advice. You didn't say "shoot for this..." you said "this is how good you can get without a CNC." And yes, aim the advice for the right audience. But don't lie to them. You can tell them the truth and throw in a "but getting tolerances that tight takes time to learn, so don't feel bad if you don't get it right away." Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is the proliferation of "good enough" advice that teaches new builders not to strive for better. Drives me nuts. Yes, in ebony it's easy to hide gaps... but does that mean you shouldn't bother to still try to make it as tight as you can? No. Also, ebony ,and maybe african blackwood, are about the only two you can do that on. No, you can't hide them well in rosewood. Look at the rosewood board with the triangles. You can definitely see the gaps. Also, even on ebony it's still noticeable because epoxy/CA has a different way of reflecting light than wood does. It also doesn't have the texture. Gaps are gaps. So, if you want to tell someone how to better themselves, etc. Great. But, if you're going to throw your personal standards out as facts and mislead new builders, I will call you out on it.

Chris

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I'd be happy if my inlays were an all round 1/32" gap ... But they're not.

I don't have a steady hand. My biggest problem is my impatience.

I've got books on inlay and studied their pic and methods, quality I could only dream of. I know inlay is one of my short falls and each time I butcher a board by inlaying it I know it's something I need to work on.

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When I do thin inlays (.050" - .060") i cut the pockets about .010" too deep, and sand the board down to the inlay. This ensures I have a maximum inlay thickness after sanding. The trick is being consistent on all of the inlays. If you don't, you may end up sanding through any high ones.

As far as gaps go...you are going to have gaps when you cut the pockets with a handheld router. But in this case, the gaps aren't the main problem. If this is an inlay "job", then I wouldn't blink at buying a new board, and re-cutting the pockets to get a better overall finished product for your paying customer. Even if it means loosing money on the job. It only takes one unhappy customer to give you a reputation you don't want, or later regret.

If you decide to go with the board you have, here is a trick that may help to reduce epoxy bubbles in the gaps: Use a slow set epoxy (2 hour). Bring a pot of water to a boil, and remove from the heat. Mix up enough epoxy & wood dust in a plastic mixing cup to do half the board. Make sure you have plenty of wood dust in it so it's nice and dark. Rest the bottom of the mixing cup in the hot water, and stir the mix continuously. The viscosity will thin dramatically. You will have to work fast. The heat will reduce the set tile of the epoxy. As it cools, it sets up.

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Don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say the technique was wrong. I use the glue-scribe-chalk-route technique too. I said your schpeel on tolerances and claiming that only a CNC can get tighter than 1/32" pockets was wrong and encouraged lazy, sub-par lutherie. Learn to read John.

Chris

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Sorry, I don't take it well when people:

1- Lie to beginning luthiers and try and steer them onto a path away from being the best they can.

2- Put words into my mouth.

Implore all you want. Don't want me to call you out? Don't give me reason to.

Chris

PS: I help the OP all the time. He's even got my skype.

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You stated:

I took issue with your blatantly wrong and poor advice.

The advice I gave is this:

glue the inlay in place with just a drop of c/a. Then score the outline as deep as possible with a fine point x-acto knife. CAREFULLY pry the inlay off with the x-acto. Fill the scored outline with chalk. This will serve as your routing pattern.

You later stated:

I didn't say the technique was wrong. I use the glue-scribe-chalk-route technique too.

We agree on the technique, but you say the advice is wrong. I don't understand this one. But wait.....

The opinion I have is this:

If done right, you can have about 1/32" gap around the perimeter of the inlay. You can't really expect more than that without a CNC.

You feel that:

With hand done inlay you can get the gap to essentially, visually zero with some practice!

Doug, our resident CNC inlay guy, even agrees with me to a certain point:

As far as gaps go...you are going to have gaps when you cut the pockets with a handheld router.

I find it interesting that you don't lambast Doug, but that's another sibject entirely. What we really have is a difference in opinion about what one can reasonably expect from doing it all by hand. Throughout this entire discussion, you've been very antagonistic, insulting, demeaning, and otherwise generally bulligerant towards me over a difference in opinion, all while saying that the advice (which we agree on) is wrong. Even through all of this, I haven't been anything but civil with you, so I've done nothing to warrant the hostility you've vomited onto me.

Let's point out one more thing here. Steve was asking for some advice. I offered a better, proven technique for him to try. You offered "go deeper", and then began your personal attacks against me. Based just on your responses here, it would seem that you are more interested in trying to run me down than to actually help anyone. You accuse me of "Lie(ing) to beginning luthiers and try and steer them onto a path away from being the best they can", all while agreeing with my advice and offering none of substance of your own.

Back away, calm down, get off your high-horse, and think about all of this with a clear head for a while. :D

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fighting0054.gif What we have here is a failure to communicate...

What we also have is not only a difference of skill levels & techniques, but a difference of "acceptable quality". By nature luthiery is perfectionists endeavor. Close-up pics of a persons work doesn't lie. If your work is tight...it shows. If your work is sloppy...it shows from a distance. With every inlay job, or any part of a commission job I always ask myself "would I accept this if I were the customer"? The work you put out will dictate if you will stay in this business or not.

I always push myself to learn and improve no matter how clean my work is currently. And, the more accomplished I become, the more I try to pass on "how to's" to others. I also never stop learning new techniques...including sand shading. I just bought a dedicated hot plate last month for it, but I'm not ready to offer it to customers until the work I do is my opinion of "tight".

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I did my first inlay by hand...small gaps,in no way anywhere near 1/32" gap...I still was not happy.No way would i brag about it

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My second inlay was with a dremel and was not even as good as that.So unacceptable.Since it is on black it is less noticeable,but it's all I can see.

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I have to say,strive for the best work you can do.The guys who are really good at what they do don't accept large gaps.If it's your own stuff you can experiment and practice,and it won't be perfect.If you plan on showing it off or selling it,don't accept less than the best you can do IMO

If you can measure the gap with a standard ruler,IMO it's too much.You can cover it and sometimes hide it well,but with large gaps the work goes from awesome to Chinese import quality,and there are enough Chinese imports on the market...I don't need to make more

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You stated:

I took issue with your blatantly wrong and poor advice.

The advice I gave is this:

................... (edited so as to not waste space, you can read all above) ....................

Back away, calm down, get off your high-horse, and think about all of this with a clear head for a while. :D

John, I know it looks fancy when you try and do "research" on a forum. But please make sure it's correct and you accurately preserve the context of what you're quoting (this is argumentative logic 101). Let's get back to the whole "read" thing I was saying you should do earlier. Go look at my first response to you. I was shocked that you use 3/16" pearl (which is yet to be shown... even on the link you posted...). I found this 1- most likely inaccurate and therefore your advice about how much you can leave outside of the pocket would be too, and 2- blatantly wasteful of a rare resource if true.

The second half of that post I expressed my shock and awe at your stated acceptable gaps, and claim that only a CNC can do better.

So no, I didn't immediately jump at you, or any of this stuff you're claiming. I just jumped at your factually wrong advice.

If you even go look at my second response to you... even that one was still clear on the fact that I found issue with your approved gap tolerance. And this is where it started to get personal. In arguing with me that these gaps were acceptable, you forced my hand to say that I do indeed find your inlay work to be lacking. Personal or not it was pertinent to the argument and not just an ad hominem attack. It was valid argumentation given the situation and subject matter. And then you insult my class (something that is also a personal attack, but not pertinent to the subject), so it's on John. It wasn't personal to start, I just wanted to clear up your, once again, blatantly wrong advice. All this can be avoided by 1- not giving blatantly wrong advice, or 2- not taking it personally when someone disagrees with you to the point you just post up fodder to be used against your argument.

And before you try and pull the "but you agree with my advice" thing again; keep in mind your advice is the FULL thing (despite the fact right after I made this statement I once again associated it with the gappage, not the technique). The technique you described does indeed work, but when you tack on the other garbage, the advice, as a whole, is bad. It's like giving someone the correct treasure map, but putting the X 3 miles too early along the path.

As for who I lambast and who I don't: If Doug came on here and threw out the advice you did I would have called him out on it too.

I know you believe I'm just attacking you, but I assure you, if I wanted to do that for the sake of it, there are better places to do it than an obscure inlay thread. Heck, if I had issue to you, I'd go straight to your build thread and bug you. But I don't. What I took issue with was what you were saying, on THIS thread, not you. So grow up a little and stop playing the victim.

Chris

Meanwhile, here are some pointers on logical argumentation:

Here's more info on ad hominem attacks and why only personal attacks that are pertinent to the subject are considered logically useful: http://philosophy.la...gic/person.html

Here is information on why your straw man tactics aren't useful: http://www.nizkor.or.../straw-man.html

Here's a follow-up on the straw man tactic that does a little deeper into why you must respect the authors original intentions of their words as well as their context, please refer to point #5: http://www-personal....LogicLitArg.htm

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So you still insist on calling my opinion something other than what it is: my opinion.

And you can't see that you're doing and have done the EXACT same thing that you're accusing me of doing.

Had you simply started with "I desagree with the gap you can expect. You can get it a lot tighter" or something similar, none of this would have happened. Instead you said "Maybe YOU can't, but please do not teach your own short-comings new luthiers and phrase them in such a way that they're led to believe your word is fact." That was phrased as an inflamatory attack, nothing more.

At this point, you're doing nothing more than being obstanate and abusive. I'm done.

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