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Removing and filling in inlay dots on an ebony fretboard...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by NelsonNelson, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    I have an ebony fretboard, my Carvin BB75, and got the bass used not that long ago with the horribly ugly silver plastic off center face dots make me want to rip them out and fill them with something black so you can no longer see them...

    Never done this before...figure it can't be rocket science. Any tips or pointers?

    Taking them out seems really simple. Drill a tiny hole in the center of the inlay, screw in a screw, take pliers and pop them out one at a time.

    Just wondering from you guys who do this stuff...ebony wood dust and glue...or black clay dots...or what would you recommend to fill the 1/4" holes? Then I'd sand them flush of course with the fretboard down to a 600 or finer sandpaper and oil the fretboard and they'd be gone!

  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Try and find an ebony dowel of the correct diameter, that would give you the most invisible solution.
  3. Bill Staudt

    Bill Staudt

    Jun 18, 2002
    I think making plugs would be your best bet.
  4. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    Any pointers on making plugs? Isn't that using ebony dowels?
  5. Bill Staudt

    Bill Staudt

    Jun 18, 2002
  6. NelsonNelson


    Sep 25, 2011
    the plug idea is great and all but i don't own a lathe. there's nowhere you can buy black clay or black wood inlay dots? my fretboard is jet black...there is no grain showing at all.
  7. Square


    Apr 9, 2012
    Buy an ebony bridge blank and sand it to get a pile of dust. Use light pressure so that you don't end up with specks of the abrasive in you dust or at least fewer specks. Patience.

    Drill a hole in you blank similar to the holes the dots now occupy on your fret board. Mix your dust and white glue to make a thick paste and fill your hole. Let it dry thoroughly, sand and reapply as there will be some shrinkage. let dry and sand again. If the result meet your expectations then fill the holes on your fretboard.

    Be careful sanding the fretboard. You have a radius there you don't want to disturb. If you do this gently there will be little sanding on the FB required, perhaps a couple of quick passes with some steel wool (watch the dust and pickups). I have repaired ebony many times like this and the result is nearly invisible.

    I have also filled holes by making my own dowels on the belt sander. I don't know what tools you have available to you, but doing this you can make the dowel with whatever grain orientation you require. You will still need the dust and glue to fill any small gaps left by a less than perfect fit.


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