I get asked a lot how inlay is done. Well, thanks to my trusty digital camera, I take a lot of photos. Just recently I worked on a custom fret board inlay for a Ken Loper Rosewood Accoustic. (Nice Guitar) I decided to take photos of the major steps in producing this inlay so I could share the process with you. Check back in from time to time to see what I'm up to.

It all starts with the artwork. Bad artwork leads to a bad inlay. All my designs start with sketches that are then converted to computer art so I can easily change sizes and make fine adjustments.
From there, raw materials such as shell, stone, or wood are selected in order to achieve the desired color scheme. The paper design is then cut up, transfered to the material, and carefully cut out by hand using the odd shaped saw to the right.
This is really my favorite part when the small bits of shell and stone start to look like art. The small section of the design to the left is already made up of 12 pieces.
It is very slow time, consuming work to cut, sand and fit each piece into place. This horse is coming along well. Can't wait to show it to Ken. But there is a lot more to do before this Pegasus is ready to fly.
Using a router bit that is only 1/32" wide, a perfectly shaped hole must be cut into the fret board in order to hold the shell.
The shell is then fitted and glued into the hole. After the glue dries, the final product is sanded flat and buffed to a shine. The final sanding is a blast as you can finally see the fruits of your labor.
Finally, the finger board is off to the luthiers to be fretted, joined to the neck and placed on the guitar. I will have an final picture of the guitar itself later when one is available.
Ken later returned to see if I could add something nice to the bridge. After a little thinking, I decided wings would look nice.