View Full Version : Inlay Advice Please

Vic D
09-27-2011, 02:42 PM
Please be kind, this is my first attempt at a serious inlay. I still have some work to do in the black and white wings part. This is the thing, the white pearl in the wings part is some really awkward stuff to etch, like other pearl it goes from tough to soft but when it gets tough it's really tough and causes the one tool I've got ( a onglette graver ) to hang. What do you guys use to etch? And any other inlay tips or advice is always appreciated.
The bird has about 34 pieces in it, two types of pearl, ebony, rosewood, maple and a couple of mystery woods lol. The tail was made with ebony and ebony/maple purfling, very tedious haha. The flowers are pink MOP, green and red recon stone.
I should have had this uke done already but now I've changed my mind on the neck and I need a really nice stick of flamed maple. It'll have an ebony skunk stripe and ebony fretboard and bridge with bird inlays.


09-27-2011, 03:16 PM
No help here, the fanciest I get are compass roses.

09-27-2011, 05:55 PM
If you're going to get into inlay, Larry Robinson's question to me, "Do you have my new book?" I said, "I have your book - is there a new one?". LR, "Yes, there's an updated version, and if you don't have it, you should." I have it, and I'm glad I do.

If you're getting into engraving, I got an engraving book (old one) that helped, but Grit Laskin's book helped a LOT. Doesn't teach you much like Robinson's book, but it forces you to learn, if you want.

If that is your first attempt, you'll be having others ask you the questions in no time.


Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-27-2011, 06:05 PM
Yeah, nothing wrong with that Vic. Good selection of materials and colors. How did you achieve the white lines in the tail? Part of the material or inlay? I've found that my best time spent is in choosing the right material and letting it's texture and color do the work for you. When I need help with engraving I've found the double tipped (fine and medium) carbide scribes from Rio grande to work well. I come from a scrimshaw background and that's one of the tools I'm familiar with. I admire those that can use gravers well. Could never get the hang if it myself. Keep up the good work.

09-27-2011, 10:40 PM
I think it's very well executed Vic. I've done some more elaborate inlays than just a logo, and I found the most difficult part was the composition. After reading through both Grit Laskin and Larry Robinson's books I found it much easier to come up with a design that didn't try and include everything, but let the viewers imagination fill in the missing pieces that aren't include on the canvas....or peg head and fret board.

09-28-2011, 01:34 AM
No advice from me. Your obvious way ahead of me on inlay. That looks very nice. But, I use a dremel with a flex attachment and various very fine dentist type tools, rasps, drills in the dremel..

09-28-2011, 03:32 AM
Very good work Vic..That's a lot better work than I could do...
I have a small collection of antique pottery and amongst the collection is a porcelain jug from 1870 designed by "Joseph Paxton" the guy who designed the Crystal Palace in London for the Great Exhibition in 1851..I always thought it would look great as an inlay project ...but i'll never be good enough to achieve it

09-28-2011, 04:59 AM
Vic, you're getting better every time. I'm in the crowd saying "I could never do that."

Steve vanPelt
09-28-2011, 06:04 AM
Vic, you're getting better every time. I'm in the crowd saying "I could never do that."

+1. Sorry Vic no help on inlay, but WOW!

Vic D
09-28-2011, 02:42 PM
Thanks for the kind words everyone.
@MrHandy, in my limited experience I've found that basic geometric shapes are more difficult to do than natural shapes.. love the compass rose.

@Aaron, those books are definitely on my list but the next thing I pick up will be Larry Robinson's advanced techniques video.

@Chuck, Double tipped carbide scribes are now on my list, thanks! The tail is actually six pieces of ebony with six or seven ebony-maple-ebony purfling sandwiched in between. I cut each feather out just slightly inside the line then scraped the purfling down to match the contour of the feather. By time the whole tail was done it had gotten pretty thin from sanding the super-glue away each time a feather was done and I had to back it with a piece of rosewood, which worked out better anyway I think. And the wing tips are ebony with pieces of white copy paper sandwiched inbetween lol... whatever works right?

@Allen, the less is more thing definitely came to mind when I was putting the final thing together, I omitted some leaves and branches which would have cluttered the scene I think. I feel like the spalted maple kind of gives a sfumato effect, sorta like an out of focus woodsy background. I'm definitely going to pick those books up in the future.

@Tudorp, Yep, I was thinking about the dremel thing and I think I'll play around with it in the future.

@Timbuck, that definitely lends itself to inlay, just beautiful... hmmm. And thanks for the kind words!

@Erich, thanks so much and your package is in the mail! Oh, and never say never!

@Steve, some of that material you sent me made it into this one. Thanks so much and I drank that beer you sent me, the beer that I said I'd never drink as long as I live lol... Tell Blue Frog beer that they make an excellent brew, it was really better than any micro brews I've tasted.

Michael Smith
09-28-2011, 08:52 PM
Beautiful work Vic. I'm lousy with a graver as well. The other day at the flea market I found some really really small files that had the profile of a spoon as you look from the side. I haven't tried them yet but I believe they will work very well for engraving small lines. It's my thought that the minute teeth of the file will be much easier to control than the one cutting surface on a graver. Again Vic Beautiful Inlay!!

09-29-2011, 09:59 AM
Excellent work Vic! Larry Robinson's 2nd and 3rd dvds are very helpful as well. I’ve only dabbled in engraving as it scares the crap out of me. So no help here either!

09-30-2011, 12:54 AM
Very cool Vic, I always enjoy pretty birds on the internet... But won't it be a shame to drill through it for tuners?

09-30-2011, 01:30 AM
Very cool Vic, I always enjoy pretty birds on the internet... But won't it be a shame to drill through it for tuners?
I was thinking the same thing!

09-30-2011, 02:25 AM
About the birds, or about drilling them? Surely not about some tuners...


Vic D
09-30-2011, 09:40 AM
LOL Sven, yep lots of pretty birds on the internets.. sometimes I lose track of time scouring for "reference" material. ;)

I drew it up first on paper and the best placement I found was the top two tuners going through the limb but missing the bird and flowers, the bottom flower will miss the tuners. Now back to bird watching...

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-30-2011, 10:02 AM
You know, your tuners don't all have to be opposite each other nor do you need to have an equal number on each side. I will stagger them if I find it necessary.

09-30-2011, 11:01 AM
You know, your tuners don't all have to be opposite each other nor do you need to have an equal number on each side. I will stagger them if I find it necessary.

He will, too! My tuners are staggered. IT looks great.

But the reason I am here is to say: I think the OP's inlays look fantastic. Very nice.