I’ve just been working on an abalone N logo inlay for Ian’s
guitar. When you look at a lot of head inlays these days, much of the really
fine lettering that you see is produced on CNC machines; both the pearl inlay
and the recess in the head overlay itself. I first saw this development when we
visited the Weber mandolin factory, in Montana 2006. I was so amazed by it,
that for a while I considered stopping the head inlay on my instruments as you
just cannot compete with the finesse and speed of CNC machines for this type of
work. However, as my logo is a kind of abstract N rather than some copperplate
script and more importantly my clients request it; I decided that the N stays.
From start to finish you’re looking at about three to four hours work which is
the reason that I don’t use the logo on the “Standard” mandolin.
The shape is drawn freehand on the abalone; although each
logo looks similar, I like the idea that each one is subtly different adding to
the uniqueness of the instrument and maybe reflecting the time when the
instrument was made.
For example whilst shaping this “N” I had the brain-wave
of grinding the back off a needle file (see above) which allows me to get crisper internal
corners on the inlay.
After some careful marking out with a scalpel, I use my
dremel to remove most of the waste; you can only go so far before reverting to hand
tools for the final shaping.
If you use a black/ebony head overlay you can be
less accurate as any large gaps can be filled with black epoxy; so more care is
need on this rosewood head.
The inlay is glued in with epoxy and once hard, any tiny gaps
can filled with rosewood dust and CA glue.
Labels: Gary Nava handmade guitars and mandolins, Luthier