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[Tool Time] Inlay materials

Dear Tool Timers,

This week I take a big chance. I’ll tell you about something I know
just a little of. I don’t do inlay. I have never done much of it, so
what I read on Orchid is of great interest to me. Here’s how this
ties in.

Years ago I used to play the guitar. In fact I still play a little
bit. I have three guitars and they are all works of art. So, what do
I say to myself? I can make one of those! Right! Well maybe not right
this second. I have started to research what it would take to make
one. In my quest I have found a source for inlay material. As well as
a whole new world of handcrafted excellence. Someday I am going to
build myself a beautiful guitar.

I don’t know if this stuff is rare or really abundant, but I thought
I would let everyone know about one more source for some really
interesting materials. Here is the list of some of it: white mother
of pearl, gold mother of pearl, black mother of pearl. green abalone,
red abalone, red abalone heart, paua abalone, as well as pre cut
materials in different shapes. I cant’ say if the price is good or
not, I haven’t priced any of this. This may even be a rip off, but
what the hey, these guitar makers have lots and lot of really neat
tools! Somebody stop me now!

I guess the reason I bring this up is the question someone posted on
exotic woods and their source. Guitar makers have lots of exotic
woods and materials they use. In the guitar players magazines various
suppliers have different ads. They are worth checking out. The
catalog I am looking at is the Stewart MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply
21 N. Shafer St. Box 900 Athens Ohio 45701. Their web is

I’m busy finishing up Spring Semester grading so this is a short one
for this week.

All the Best,

TR the Teacher
Todd Hawkinson

I have been cutting custom inlays for luthiers for a few years now,
and I second Todd’s recommendation of Stewart MacDonald as a good
source with decent prices for shell inlay materials. Another good
source is Luthiers Merchantile International, PO Box 774, 412 Moore
Ln, Headelsberg, CA 95448. 707-433-4437. Their web site is If you like tools and/or unusual materials, it’s a lot
of fun to go running barefoot through the luthier catalogues.

Epaul Fischer
Gem Carvings
Fine Custom Jewelry
"The gryphon sings of gold & silver,
gems & jewels"