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Thread: cutting inlays

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    New Westminster BC Canada
    Posts
    57

    Default cutting inlays

    I'd like to add inlays to my ukulele projects,something a bit fancier than round dots and I have no idea where to start.My fine motor skills aren't up to cutting them by hand so I've thought about a laser engraver. I don't want to just jump in with no plan so I'm looking for advice. How do you cut your inlays?
    Thanks in advance
    Bill

  2. #2

    Default

    If you go to my website there are some pictures i"The Shop" of how I do my inlays. I can't stand process of carefully routing a perfect channel by hand. Carefully cutting each piece with a saw, filing fitting filing some more etc. I can do it but I hate it. After a few hours of that I want to throw the entire thing at the wall. So I use something I made. I call the poormans CNC. It's a basic reducing pantagraph with a dremel cutter. There is no computer involved except for sizing my drawings. You need a scroll saw that you can control the speed on to make this system work and a dedicated dremel. It's ideal for repeating patterns. Thus I use the rooster as my standard logo. Takes me one hour to do that inlay. I drew a plan of the "Poorman's CNC" It's floating around my desk somewhere. If you are just going to do a uke or two it's not worth getting set up.
    Last edited by Michael Smith; 06-04-2019 at 12:42 PM.
    Michael Smith
    Goat Rock Ukulele
    www.goatrockukulele.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Cairns, Australia
    Posts
    2,386

    Default

    A laser is really handy for cutting some things, but it's more or less hopelss for pearl. It also is pretty much hopeless when working with ebony. If either of those things are something you are looking to do, then look elsewhere.

    A CNC will do both if you don't want to do it by hand, but the learning curve from design, programming and onto machining strategies is steep indeed.

    I use a combination of both the laser and CNC in my work, but honestly you had better be doing this full time and have very deep pockets to get set up in order to justify the expense and time in learning how to use them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    2,285

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cathouse willy View Post
    How do you cut your inlays?
    Thanks in advance
    Bill
    I use a StewMac router base and a cheapy dremel tool with down cut bits. I buy my shell precut online. Trace around the shell. Highlight with chalk. Cut out. Place shell. Fill gaps with sawdust and glue. Sand out. Done. Cost in equipment is less than $100. Does take a little practice, but nothing that anybody can't do.

    inlay1.jpg inlay2.jpg inlay3.jpg inlay4.jpg inlay5.jpg

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default

    I finally replied to your question about inlays in my banjolele thread. Unfortunately, I cut mine by hand. But for simple designs I think it's manageable.

    Edit: Mine even came out acceptable (certainly not perfect, but good enough to use IMO) on my first ever try. So I encourage you to give it a shot!
    Last edited by Uke-alot; 06-05-2019 at 03:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Hawaii Island
    Posts
    184

    Default

    I would encourage you to at least try inlay done by hand. The tools are not too expensive and uncomplicated inlays are not too difficult to do. There is lots of instruction on the web, CD's, books, etc. to help you., but simple inlay is extremely easy to do.They can be very nice. People who appreciate handcrafted work will like the fact that you did it manually. Lasers and CNC have all but taken over in our craft, but traditions die hard in some of us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,104

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pegasus Guitars View Post
    I would encourage you to at least try inlay done by hand. The tools are not too expensive and uncomplicated inlays are not too difficult to do. There is lots of instruction on the web, CD's, books, etc. to help you., but simple inlay is extremely easy to do.They can be very nice. People who appreciate handcrafted work will like the fact that you did it manually. Lasers and CNC have all but taken over in our craft, but traditions die hard in some of us.
    Well said.
    Kind Regards
    Dennis

    dponeil@xtra.co.nz
    Southern Cross Banjo Ukes & Ukuleles
    Proudly Hand Crafted in
    New Zealand.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Hawaii and Alaska
    Posts
    53

    Default

    I have only done inlays by hand. I find the CNC and laser thing fascinating and I would like to have one to play with. I just think that for me the time and effort of buying, learning and doing it digitally would just take all of the fun out of taking a stroke and blowing away the dust. Doing inlays by hand to me is why I like doing inlays.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Posts
    614

    Default

    Also consider alternative marking such as pyrography or overlays
    My friends call me Titch. I have been known to clown.
    Ian Titulaer is my normie name.

    https://sites.google.com/site/titchtheclown/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    New Westminster BC Canada
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Thankyou for your replies, the laser tool has a steep price and learning curve so for the few ukes that i will build so it seems it's not going to happen.Based on the replies I will try some simple hand cut inlays.I can picture how to cut the inlay part but cutting the cavity? has me baffled. I'd be grateful for any tips on cutting them
    Thanks
    Bill

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