Inlaying Fingerboard

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CUTTING FINGERBOARD AND INLAYING MOTHER OF PEARL

I think my biorhythms were at their maximum peak today or either my testosterone level was at a minimum....grin if you must, because cutting and inlaying the fingerboard went without any serious complications.  I did have one minor problem since my scroll saw is squeezed into an area like a school of sardines packed into a tin can and didn't have enough room or clearance between myself sitting down while trying to make the cut outs for the inlay at the first fret, etc.  Seems like I didn't have that problem in the middle 70s and think it can be attributed to 240 lbs. weight now versus 180 lbs. then.  I had to cut most of the fingerboard inlay positions standing up to give me the room to make the required turns and to keep the end of the fingerboard from stabbing myself in the stomach...go ahead and grin again because I think you can get the mental image I am eluding to!  In the above pixs, this procedure follows the same format as cutting the peghead except for the fingerboard I made myself cut extra clearance and had at least half a saw blade width away from the paper pattern inlay design.  It only took a few minutes per inlay to make the cut outs for the inlays and only had a couple that I actually had to press fit.  I didn't have to file or grind any of the fingerboard to allow the inlays to fit because of the extra room provided.  The above pixs especially the right hand pix shadows from the camera flash actually hide the more detailed cuts in the fingerboard.

Above left pix shows where I dry fitted the inlay and checked the fit and off to a very good start since it fit ok and I have definitely inlayed much closer than the above but it will do fine with the correct filler mix. Next couple pixs show working my way down the fingerboard and then start removing the double stick tape and paper cutting pattern.

Paper cutting pattern removed and inlays dry fitted and none required any modification to the fingerboard.  I cut plenty of space in the fingerboard for the inlays to fit not desiring to having to use the needle files after the peghead ordeal the other day. 

Instead of using the mailing labels to secure the mother of pearl inlay flush with the fingerboard, I elected to use a blue painter's masking tape made by Shurtape # CP 27 which has a 14 day release capability.  However,  I learned the hard way that this particular brand of painter's tape would pull the bark off a pine tree and should do great for this application.  I "dug" out some ole metal aluminum templates I used for inlaying fingerboards in the ole Gibson style and after placing the tape on each inlay position and being careful that the tape was completely flush with the fingerboard and fitted the inlays with the balsa wood backing from the back side of the fingerboard.  There were two (2) tight fitting inlays that I inserted from the face side of the fingerboard and then applied the masking tape and the rest was done as depicted above.

 

After the inlays were placed in the fingerboard cut outs, they were pressed tightly against the working surface to ensure the mother of pearl inlays were flush with the fingerboard.  As in the peghead, the excess balsa wood was cut flush with the backside of the fingerboard and checking to be sure any of the balsa wood did not work its way between the inlays and the fingerboard.  The fingerboard was then taped to the aluminum template to have a flat surface.  Epoxy filler mix was added to the back side of the fingerboard at each inlay position and allowed to dry overnight.  The next steps will be to remove the fingerboard from the aluminum template and sand the back side of the fingerboard down and then apply filler to the top side of the fingerboard.

Bill aka Mickey Porter 03-09-10.

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