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Thread: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

  1. #1

    Question Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    I'm working on an F5 that will be fairly conventional for the most part, but with a few kinda-sorta unusual characteristics:
    • I don't like sunbursts, so I'm leaving the wood all unstained - it's standard spruce and curly maple
    • To complement that, I have black hardware and will use BWB binding on the body and black on the neck, and India inked ebony blocks on the points
    • Ebony veneer on the headstock front, but not on the back
    • Might leave the headstock unbound, mainly because the 15 degree angle and microscopic scroll intimidate me

    I have regular old MOP dots for the fret inlays (white 1/16" celluloid for the side), so I'd like my headstock inlay to complement that. I haven't cut pearl before, and it intimidates me as well, though I do have a fine enough saw and could make a jig (bird... beak? bird mouth?) easily enough. In theory, I think I'm capable, and it's not much tougher than some other projects I've pulled off successfully.

    HOWEVER, I'm interested in crushed/flaked MOP/mica/opal as well. Only problem is, I'm having a hard time finding decent quality images anywhere. I'm wondering a few things:
    1. Would this look too "flat" when finished?
    2. Any concerns making the edges nice and sharp?
    3. Overall, any experience here? Any thoughts?

    I appreciate any wisdom you have to share!

  2. #2
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    Forest Grove, Oregon

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Typically a jewelers saw is used to cut MOP or abalone. The blades come in packs of 10. What does that tell you?

    Don’t know anything about the other stuff.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Comment from another thread, post # 10 pertains to your question...

    Also, the Duke Of Pearl sells crushed shell...

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #4

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Thanks! Yes, I saw that post in an initial search to make sure I wasn't rolling in as a newbie and asking questions people have already answered well enough. Don't want to be that guy.

    I think turquoise (mentioned there) is a similar hardness to opal, but I wouldn't have the same concerns with shell or mica, both being extremely soft and sandable with garnet or aluminum oxide. Very useful to differentiate those in my mind, though! Opal might be an experiment for another day...

  5. #5
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    PTC GA

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    I would like to hear if anyone has tried mica. I have a small collection of rocks with sufficient mica layers to do a couple of head stock inlays, but haven't talked myself into using it. I think it may be too fragile or too inconsistent in appearance, but I don't know.

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  6. #6
    Registered User darylcrisp's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Banner, Ky

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    not sure if this will help you with ideas or whatever, but check out Kanilea Ukulele website for some pictures of crushed stone inlay. they even use sand for the fret markers sometimes.

  7. #7
    Registered User
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    Jun 2005
    High Peak - UK

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Mike Vanden has used coral and stone in his guitar and mandolin inlays for some years -

  8. #8

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Recon stone is a good option. Or something like Inlace, though I think it ends up having a "Woodcraft Store Demo from the 90's" vibe.

    Filling a cavity with crushed/filler inlay is actually harder than inlaying shell or other hard materials into ebony. That's because it's much harder to route a clean shape than it is to cut a clean shape with a jeweler's saw. Then you just fill with ebony dust and nobody will ever see any little whoopsies you make when making the cavity.

    Recon stone is my second favorite inlay material. My favorite inlay material is wood.

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  10. #9
    Registered User tjmangum's Avatar
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    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    To me it sounds like your looking for a look that resembles micromosaics, which was an older approach to jewelry decoration.
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  12. #10
    Registered User Doug Edwards's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    Kerrville, Texas

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    I found Crushed stone and mop on Etsy. I have a bag of fine mop I can part with. Also you can use Opal.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    I have some scrap MOP that you can have if you want to crush it yourself. Its the scrap from cutting inlay on my cnc.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Crushed stone for headstock inlay?

    Somehow quit getting notifications on this thread...
    I got hold of some MOP from a jeweler friend of mine, so I'll crush that and see how I like it in some test pieces.
    Additional question, though: if I'm just going to rout the shape, pour the stone, flood with something, and sand smooth, is thin CA glue as good a material as any other for the "flood" step? Any concerns with haze or discoloration with age or anything?

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