In addition to showing how I made my particular headstock, I will be demonstrating the broader technique of liquid inlay. As opposed to traditional wood inlay - which involves fitting many carefully cut parts into carefully cut pockets - liquid inlay uses a liquid binder, such as epoxy, mixed with colored filler to make inlays with nearly unlimited colors and materials.
Disclaimer:Before I get started, I want to say that I am NOT an expert luthier (stringed instrument maker). I tried my best to do my own research and follow the plans for my guitar design, but only time will tell if I was successful.
If you choose to make your own guitar, please do your own research using professional guides. There are several amateur luthier communities online, as well as good books. I personally used How to Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar - by Jonathan Kinkead, found at my local library.
Step 1: Tools and materials
Tools & software used
- Adobe Illustrator
- Corel Draw
- Epilog 60 watt laser
- Table router with pattern cutting bit
- Tool for mixing and spreading epoxy - I used coffee stirrers
- Cocobolo headplate 1/8" veneer - ordered from Luthers Mercantile International. Can also use any hardwood
- Lyptus 3/4" thick headstock base - can be any hardwood, but should be strong to withstand the string tension
- Painter's tape - used for masking off un-lasered surfaces
- Double stick tape - used for pattern routing headstock shape
- Epoxy (slow cure is best) - Can use other resins or binders, but I've only tried epoxy
- Atomized (powdered) brass - Can use many different types of filler - paints, powdered dye, sawdust, etc... The filler should not be chemically reactive with the epoxy. If unsure, ask around and check online.
Pictured is a plate with some of the different fillers I tried before deciding on just one. In addition to the powdered brass, I tried ebony sawdust, gold pigment, silver pigment, pearl pigment, and white pigment.