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My custom built resophonic aka Dobro guitar getting a make over from yours truly.

My basement workshop is very laid back and informal pretty much like myself.  I will insert a few pixs of box calls in different stages of completion, however I do have a few proprietary jigs, fixtures and tooling out of camera range.  There is nothing high-tech in my operation but a lot of hand work requiring many hours to complete a call, especially a custom inlaid one. 

For liability and personal reasons, I do not offer any shop tours!

Eastern Red Cedar 6/4 boards air dried for several years and allowed to acclimate to the basement humidity which is controlled.


Cedar boards have been ripped to rough thickness and width prior to milling the radius portion on the lid blanks.  About 1/3 or more of the raw boards will end up in scrap material due to large knots or wrong grain orientation.

Cedar lids have the radius portion milled, handle portion shaped and trimmed to final length.

Trimming the 45 degree angles on each corner of lids.  It would be just as easy to power sand the corners and much safer to prevent chip out,  so doing it the "hard way" on this one!  Working harder not smarter.

Semi-finished lids.  Talk about being frugal...check out the empty coffee cans...grin if you must...Hey it works for storage!  It does not hurt to have a good supply of lids on hand since some lids sound better with different call bodies than others even when the lid or call body is  processed from the same board.  Guess it is due to the density of the wood and grain orientation.  Once in a while a call body and lid will not sound like it should and thus ends up in the scrap pile.

Wood marquetry strips (wood purflings) # 4 being added to a "tuned" box call.  If the call does not sound right after initial and secondary hand tuning and other lids are tried, it will be scraped before wood purflings are added and wasted in the process. 

Simple fixture to hold the box call during the finishing stages and helps keep track of the sealer and finish coat applications.  Currently not using the "stitch" or Granada wood marquetry...most collectors like the #4 wood marquetry pattern better.

Custom fixture being fabricated.

Fixture set-up and test.  Every call hand made by me will have numerous caliper checks along the way, especially the soundboard or side thickness, depth and width of inside sound chamber.  I constantly hit +- .003 inches of target goal.


Custom commissioned call with strutting turkey inlay in Green abalone pearl inlaid into Gaboon Ebony insert and then inlaid into the bottom of the Butternut call.  Chisel used to rough out the opening  very quickly and finished with a very small router.  The finished call above now belongs to Jim Yarboro of Gun Barrel City, Texas and he harvested a Rio Grand long beard with the call.  See the Photo Gallery home page for the pix and info.

Poplar call blank being routed/carved testing out new sound chamber design set-up.  I call this chamber my Torpedo Nose taper.  The sound chamber is not completed in the above photo.  Below is a cut-away of the profile of the call before any tuning takes place and easy to see where my torpedo nose taper got it's name.  Without proper fixturing and tooling, this is a very difficult sound chamber to execute without CNC routers/carvers and I normally hit within a few thousands of an inch on the taper and side wall thickness.  I do this without the usage of CNC routers/carves but with traditional woodworking techniques, but with accurate fixtures.

Above July 1980 Neil Cost call getting measurements documented.  Call is not owned by me or for sale!  I have personally had my micrometers, calipers and other precision measuring tools on other top call makers designs as part of research and development constantly adding new data to assemble bits and pieces in the quest for knowledge.  Nell Cost set the standard for call makers, however many "custom call makers" simply copy his design; e.g., box call cavity shape, inlay, checkering patterns and even go as far as to say their calls are hand hewn trying to give credence to their call.  There was only one Neil Cost and anyone copying his designs shows no originality whatsoever, however "Imitation is the highest form of flattery"


Mother of Pearl oyster shell material .050 inches thick cut with a jewelers saw blade less than .014 inches in saw blade width into designs suitable for inlaying into the box call lid and sides using a small router operated freehand.  No jigs or templates used since no two pieces of the inlay with be exactly the same since they are hand cut by eye following a paper layout pattern and not with a CNC or laser machine.  As you can see from the pix above, the inlays are delicate and bold, yet pleasing to the eye with saw blade cut back detail and yet with enough variation to recognize they are hand cut.  It takes time and patience to execute designs of this type.


You definitely need to be on the State Eye Glasses plan to see and following the cutting pattern with this fine saw blade!

Above pix of mother of pearl designs being inlaid into a Eastern Red Cedar lid.  There just is no easy shortcuts when inlaying mother of pearl by hand.  The center portion of the design is dry fitted into the hole that was hand routed out with an extremely small solid carbide router bit.  The right portion of the lid has the scribed pencil lines from the inlay and ready to begin routing out the cavity for the inlay to rest flush with the top of the lid.  After all inlays are dry fitted they will be glued in place with a cedar color matching epoxy filler material and will get sanded after the filler has set a day or two.

This process is very time consuming, expensive and rarely do you see a custom inlaid turkey box call of this caliber except in the most serious box call collections.  The above call will go into a private collection when completed.

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view of the process:

I have a tutorial on how to cut and inlay mother of pearl located at the banjo construction page.  I used an air driven small die grinder to route the grooves for the inlays and a 1/32 inch diameter solid carbide spiral up cut router bit.

The Eastern Red Cedar lid was stained black using alcohol based aniline based dye and will be sprayed with several coats of clear lacquer. 

The deer antler used in the last pix, ended up being the handle for a custom knife located at this link.


I no longer donate calls to NWTF chapters or support the organization due to alcoholic bars set up with free drinks as a means to inebriate potential high dollar spenders and bidders at their banquets.  This is a disgusting and immoral way to conduct business to raise money in my humble opinion!  Also, the usage of "bar maids" (literally and figuratively) to serve the drinks and assist in the auction is low class.  When you are of the world, this is a normal protocol.

Web page updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 11-26-17.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”