Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Inlay day!

It is no secret that I love inlay day. But like all of the skills I have acquired while learning how to build guitars, my first few attempts weren't ideal.

I remember when I was young and wanted to spend time with my dad, I would think of objects to ask him to help me make. Even if it was a somewhat ridiculous request, he was always able to figure out how to do it. He did most of the work,  but then attributed a lot of it to me when we were done. These projects included such things as small wood boxes, jewelry, a roll top bread box that "we" made for my aunt and uncle, a cribbage board, cutting boards, a mortar and pestle. When I was in middle school, we made a chess board for my mom; my dad cut the pieces on the table saw and let me arrange them on the board. I got to help pick the wood, curly maple for the white spaces and deep red cherry for the dark spaces. I carefully arranged them, and glued them to the maple base, taking care to checker them accordingly. We then added a dainty black line, typically used for guitar purfling, around the edges and used an S-shaped router bit to carve a fancy edge around the board.

Most of my tasks during these projects were menial; sanding, arranging, and then sanding some more. I remember  once I asked to make a box with a little E inlaid on the top. My dad handed me the jeweler's saw and let me to go town. After an hour or so and several broken pieces of pearl, I cut out something kind of resembling an E. At the time, my dad failed to mention that there was a little machine that would cut a pretty little space for my E to fit into the wood, so I went at the box top with a pocket knife. Miraculously, with no flesh cut or blood spilled, I managed to dig out an unfortunate little hole for my sad little E. I still have that box sitting in my room at my dad's house. I look at it sometimes and think of how much I have learned since then. It is encouraging that through the guitar skills I have acquired, I also have been provided with limitless possibilities of the things I can make. One or two Christmases ago, Nick wanted to make a present for his parents. When we decided to make wooden spatulas, I took on the role my dad typically filled, and then Nick sanded. It was nice to be able to do something together, and I was proud to have shared the same knowledge that was previously passed to me.

Speaking of acquiring new skills, I just finished cutting an inlay for the fingerboard of one of my dad's guitars. The super neat thing about it is that half of the inlay was already done! Charlie, a jeweler who lives in Independence and periodically brings us delicious Thai food wanted to contribute some of his skill to his guitar. I have mentioned him in a previous post, as he is also a very talented engraver who visits the shop every now and again to help my dad hone his engraving skills. Anyway, the filigree-type inlay he did was beautiful, I just hope my abalone accents compliment his skillful work. So far I have only dabbled in the art of inlaying metal, trying it on a cutting board and one fingerboard, but his work, as well as the new tool and sheet of silver he brought gifted me, has inspired me to keep experimenting! The only downside to this method is how long it takes to hand file the inlaid pearl and super glue instead of just putting it on the sander because of the delicate nature of the metal inlay. When I finally finish filing this thing, I will be sure to update this post with a picture!


Phone picture from the inlays I cut (not yet inlaid) while sitting on my deck in Asheville. 


My first attempt at metal inlay on a recent wedding present.


2 comments:

  1. Jayne that inlay work is awesome. Very cool and inspiring. I love this blog. No BS, no ego. Keep up the great work.
    -Chris from California

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