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Can't resist a little pun, so here goes:
Dots What I Mean
© Frank Ford, 5/7/98; Photos by FF, 5/6/98

Most players of fretted instruments rely on fingerboard inlay markers to find their way around. For many of us, the little dots on the edge of a fingerboard can be the most important of all.

Classical guitars and older instruments of all types are frequently made without these edge markers. For these, I'm called on to inlay edge dots into a fingerboard edge without disturbing the neck's finish.

Here's how I go about it.

First, I'll mark the location with a very sharp awl:

Next, I'll be drilling a 1/16" hole for the edge dot. This is my secret weapon:

It's a 1/16" brad point drill bit which centers easily on my mark and cuts with a minimum of chipping out of finish or wood.

This particular bit has a hex shank and fits my electric screwdriver, so I have really good clearance and control:

I'll drill the holes at least 1/8" deep.

Here's the inlay material:

1/16" diameter plastic rods I get from Stewart-MacDonald. There are black ones for inlaying into white fingerboard binding.

A little white or yellow glue is plenty strong enough to hold the inlay in place:

I put glue in the hole, and push the rod in just a little to start. Excess glue won't damage the finish, and I'll just wipe it off with a damp rag.

Then, I'll snip the end off, leaving about 1/8" of the rod exposed:



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