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Tools for inlay work


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I'm interested in starting to do inlay work, are there any tools that any of you would recommend? any tips for doing it too?



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I use the stewmac spiral downcut bits (1/32, 1/16, and 1/8 sizes) with the stewmac dremel base. The little air pump helps quite a bit to keep the dust from covering the lines - it's not too expensive.

I've been using an exacto knife for scribing the outlines up until recently when I decided to try out the stewmac steel scribing tool. It seems to work better in tight cornered areas but I think you can still get by fine with an exacto. You can also do your corners with an exacto knife.

You'll need a respirator. Places like Home Depot sell them much cheaper than stewmac. Don't skip this one - especially ig you're cutting MOP or other shell.

A magnifying glass of some sort comes in quite handy at times. I don't have the visor type yet but I am thinking about it. I use a little "viewing glass" thing that cost about $5.00 I think. It works fine.

A jewelers saw (with array of blades) is great to have for cutting inlay material. Get a few different size blades and at least a dozen of each (better getting 2 or 3 dozen if you can afford it).

You can make your own inlay cutting board if you want. I don't know how much the stewmac one is but there's nothing complicated about making your own.

Lastly, some radiused sanding blocks to match the radius of your fretboard. Don't ever sand with just your finger tip or any other sanding block without being extremely careful. You are much better off using a radiused sanding block as much as you can. I learned this one the hard way.

One other thing that isn't really a tool but certainly will help is the Larry Robinson video. It's really worth the money in my opinion. Lots of hands-on work in that video.


1. stewmac spiral downcut bits for dremel (1/32, 1/16, 1/8)

2. stewmac dremel router base

3. exacto knife

4. jewelers saw with lots of blades

5. radiused sanding blocks

6. respirator (you really need this if cutting shell)

7. Larry Robinson video

8. magnifying glass of some sort

I'm assuming that you have a Dremel or similar tool - if not, add it to the list.

This is just my opinion and from my experience of having done 4 fretboards with MOP and other metal materials.

Good luck,


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