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Category Archives: Custom Instruments

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Inlay Installation

Just as amazing when you know how it’s done:

While a lot of older cheep factory made instruments have stickers on top of or prints under the finish demarcating their logo, nice old instruments, and most new ones have  wood or shell material set into the wood.

Even cheap guitars get inlay work now because it can be made quickly with CNC machines, which cut the inlay with computer guided precision.

We do it the old fashion way – by hand.¬† Here’s how it’s done:

Fist the design is printed on paper and glued to a sheet of shell material with regular old wood glue. This one is on Alabam, a shell composite material designed specifically for inlay work.

inlay prep

The shell is then carefully cut out with a jewelry saw and shaped with needle files.


The finished inlay pieces…

inlay (2)

The pieces are then placed where they will reside on the guitar and traced. A dremel tool is used to carefully cut out the slots for them to fit into to.


The pieces are then glued in with epoxy and a wax paper covered caul, let to dry for 24 hours, and then sanded down.

The final result:


Thanks for reading!

Elden Luthiery