View Full Version : Inlay step by step.....

05-25-2016, 09:21 PM
I was taking some pictures to document a build I'm doing for a musician in France, and thought that some might like to see the steps involved.

Many of the purfling lines cross over each other, and very short pieces butt up to others. So careful planing of the steps makes the job much easier and cleaner.

Inlaying the first element.... This is the easiest as the pieces are large enough to handle. All pieces are cut to fit dry, and then pulled out. PVA glue applied to the ends of the purfling and then pushed into place. If you do this step, then the Maple in the purfling is less likely to show a black one on the mitre.

Thin CA glue is then wicked along the edges and left to dry.


Scraped flush after drying.


The next elements are routed and then inlaid. Here you can see that by proceeding in this order I avoid having to try and fit some very short pieces in the lower bout. Even so, from this point on those short pieces are very difficult to cut precise mitres and then position. More than a few get wasted.

Same procedure of dry fitting to make sure everything is good. Pulling out and then applying PVA to the end grain of the purflings, pushing into place and wicking in CA glue.


Again scrape flush after drying.


The final elements are installed the same way. This was scraped flush and then had a fine finish sand.


05-26-2016, 12:38 AM
Thank you, Allen. That's a lovely inlay, and I really appreciate your sharing your technique. I never would have thought to use pva in the miters.


05-26-2016, 07:39 AM

Can you show your set up for cutting the channels in such a straight and parallel manner? Lovely design idea. Brian Galloup of Galloup guitar does some similar things, and he uses a CNC machine to cut the channels - I am not getting involved in that at this point.


05-26-2016, 10:03 AM
These are cut on my CNC, but previous to that I started out using a laminate trimmer and a straight edge that I clamped to the table and back as a fence. Careful layout with pencil on the timber, and cut to the lines. I have done several different designs including curves using this method.

The next step up from that was on my milling machine, still with the layout lines, but then using the X and Y hand wheels on the table to transverse the part. Almost impossible to do curves with the milling machine though.

Both of those options work, and it's really just a matter of how much time you want to spend. The CNC is the go if you are trying to make a living at it.

05-26-2016, 11:06 AM

Thanks - I have often wanted to do some line and berry inlays on the back of a guitar like these - all done with pretty cool hand tools that Lie Neilson is now duplicating at high dollar:



05-26-2016, 06:06 PM
Yeah, thanks Allen. I've always admired those back inlays of yours... However since I don't do CNC it isn't going to happen. However, I could see using templates and a down cut router to create the same channels.... Maybe. Anyway, mystery solved.

05-26-2016, 08:37 PM
It's not so much what tool you are using to create the channels for the purfling. But the technique of planning out the steps in order to make the work clean and tidy. Up until very recently all of my inlay work was done the old fashion way. Just taking far, far longer to accomplish than now.

I do the same thing with rosettes. Inlay the tile, let dry and then route out for the purling lines afterwards. Far fewer elements to wrestle with at one time and allows you to do more intricate work at a leisurely pace.

Habanera Hal
05-27-2016, 05:59 AM
Very nice. Thank you for sharing.