Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moving On

You know what? I was going to use the off-cut from the neck block to make the heel block, but discovered that it's not tall enough by about 1/4". So I had to go on the LMI website and order a tail block, then wait for it to come in from California.

First I called a hardwood store and inquired if they had any Honduran or African Mahogany that would be suitable. Most of what they had was in slab form, and I need a block of wood. They had some big blocks, but the smallest piece they had was going to cost $65, so going local so I could keep going was out of the question. The tail block from LMI costs about $5, so, yeah.

So instead of being able to glue the tail block, then the kerfing, and then attaching the back and top to the sides this weekend, I have to wait.

I hate it when that happens.

But there's always things to do, so I turned my attention back to the neck.

First I started working on the inlay for the headstock. When I first got into this hobby I contacted an inlay artist, Paul Bordeaux, who does some really great work. Check it out here. We traded some emails until we decided on the look I wanted. When it was time, I mailed him the neck to #002 and he inlayed my name in pearl at the top of the headstock. Here's how it came out:Inlay is a skill, but it's one a good luthier should develop for basic stuff like this, so I had Paul cut another logo in pearl and send it to me when he mailed the neck back. I wanted to do the inlay myself on #003, then maybe on #004 try doing it all myself, including cutting the pearl.

So here's the process. I drew the centerline on the headstock, then another line square to that where I wanted the name to go. The logo comes in three parts: the capital E, then the rest of the name, then the swirl under the name. I placed the pieces using the lines as guides. When I was satisfied with the placement I used regular model airplane glue to glue the pieces to the headstock.

After letting that dry for a couple of hours, I used a sharp razor knife to scribe the outline into the ebony headplate.
I then use the knife to carefully detach the pearl from the ebony. I scraped some chalk onto the logo and rubbed it into the lines, and when the excess chalk is blown away the scribed lines show up clearly.
I attach a base to my Dremel tool and insert a very fine bit--1/32" and adjust the depth so that the pearl will be just proud of the surface, then start routing the logo.

There's a lot of stopping to check the fit, but finally everything fits and looks good. I thought I had taken a picture of the pearl laid in the ebony, but I guess I forgot. Here's the finished routing:

I'll mix some black furniture dust in some epoxy and use that to glue the pearl. The black epoxy will fill in the gaps and be virtually indistinguishable from the ebony once everthing gets sanded flush. Under a finish everything will really shine. I'll post more pictures when I get around to the gluing, but that will be a while. I'm moving on to the fretboard now.

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