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Removing Stingray Inlay

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tiefling, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. tiefling


    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    I'm thinking of replacing the plastic dot inlays on my SR5 with something, well, nicer. I did some searching and haven't found a good solution to removing the plastic inlays.

    Can anyone give me some pointers on getting those things out?

  2. short of heating them up and melting them trying to liquefy the glue, with a solder pen or something, you could always try to drill them out?!? Justa thought.
  3. then there's the whole process of installing the new inlay and radiusing the tops...
  4. tiefling


    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    I was thinking that heating with an iron would create a little pool of goo in my fretboard. Maybe something with lower indirect heat?

    Dealing with getting the inlay on and stuff I've got covered, I've just never removed plastic.
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    It's going to be a lot of work to do it. I'm not sure how they're glued in there. I can think of two ways that have already been mentioned.

    Heat them somehow and pull them out with something sharp. The problem with this is that the plastic dots might start melting before the glue lets go.

    Drill them out. If you have access to a proper drill press you could do this. The problem here would be if you don't drill them properly you'll leave some behind and take out some of the wood.

    Either way you're going to be left with the problem of sanding the inlays flush with the fretboard, which with the frets in is going to be a lot of tedious work.

    I wouldn't do it unless you've got some experience with this,in which case you probably wouldn't have asked how to do it. There's too much risk of either screwing it up or having it not look good.
  6. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Are you saying that you want to make this pool of molten plastic? Lower heat might work, but it might not release the glue holding the dots in.

  7. tiefling


    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    Thats what I'm trying to avoid.
  8. yeah, that pool would wick into the wood even more...

    I think your best option moving forward would be a drill-out. but please, take it slow. and worst-case, mark centers and use a brad-point bit to keep it on-center. The dots aren't terribly thick...just don't drill too deep with a brad point...(hit the trussrod / and or purge new adhesive into trussrod cavity, causing it to snag)

    So, IF you do it, start with a brad point, take it down until the tip hits the bottom of the button. THEN, you could switch to equal diameter up-flute endmill bit, place bit in, set up center with drill off, set depth stop, and clamp bass in place, and then recheck center with drillpress off, and then proceed slowly.

    besta luck, but I'd say don't do it.

    An alternative, get most of the button out, leave a little underneath, and install, say, new abalone dots over it. the white dots will help brighten up the abaolone...
  9. I would use my Dremel with a small rotary file and start working from the middle out on one of the dots making a donut shape. Once I got a deep hole made, I would use a tool to pry the dot out of the wood. The tool would hook under the donut on one side and rest on the top on the other. It should pop right out.
  10. I'd be worried about tearout, and then....uh ohhhh...

    could you find a plug maker (you know those things you use a a drill press to make small plugs) the same size as the dots, to give the edge a bit of a scratch, to prevent tearout?
  11. Ed R

    Ed R

    Oct 25, 2005
    Measure the diamter of the dot. Then use a forstner bit a size smaller to drill out the old material. When you reach wood instead of plastic, stop. Then put new dots in to your taste, using lots of clear cement or epoxy. Wipe the spare epoxy off the fingerboard before it cures, and after the expoy has cured, sand the inlay smooth and flush to the fingerboard surface. It's one of the easier things you can do . The hardest part is centering teh drill , and that's not very tough to do at all.

    Just don't go too deep. If you do, no real damage, you can just lay in some epoxy deep enough to bolster the inlay dot up to flush. You can't really hurt the neck even if you drill into the truss rod- unless you drill into the truss rod in a major way.
    My adivce is , don't be afraid of it. Find a cordless drill, the right size bit, some epoxy, replacement inlay, and practice material and have at it. Don't be afraid of it. ANYTHING you coudl do to the guitar while doing this can be switftly and easily repaired if it has to be.
  12. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I would highly recommend not using a cordless drill. If you're going to drill it out use a drill press with a depth stop. This is just bad advice. A hand drill with a forstner bit is not a great idea for this work.
  13. + infinity. I'd even go so far as to take the neck off and lock it into a stable flat jig with that drill press. But that's just me. The overall size is smaller, less cumbersome, and you'll be less likely to knick up the neck or the body this way. Just remember to take the tension off the trussrod to get the neck to lie straight / flat as possible.
  14. Luke Sheridan

    Luke Sheridan Commercial User

    Dec 30, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I build guitars and sell them. Strings, too
    I'd also radius my inlays before installing them
  15. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses

    I don't think you've done many inlays, have you?


    On second thought,
    Tiefling, have you ever done inlays before?
    What do you want for replacement?
    Do you know how hard it is to inlay a fretboard that's already fretted?
    Will you defret, inlay, then refret?
    Will you do the inlay or leave it for a pro? (in this case you don't need to remove those dots)

    You should consider all this before you go ahead and remove those dots.

    Easiest way to do inlays is on a fretboard that is not fretted and not on the neck. It would probably be easier to make a brand new fretboard with inlays and then remove your existing fretboard to glue-in you new inlayed fretboard.
  16. Dots aren't that hard to radius - even on a fretted neck if you use jewelers files. You just have to be very careful. Radiusing beforehand could be a real waste of time since you can't be assured that the plug is the same depth as the cavity with the glue in place. Besides, if the dot was flat, you wouldn't notice it anyway.
  17. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Has someone heard of that stick on type inlay at all? It covers the existing stuff, and it really thin, so it isn't that noticeable. I was wanting this for some block inlays on a bass of mine
  18. Ed R

    Ed R

    Oct 25, 2005
    Oh, I agree completely, and I'd use a drill press with a forstner running around 300 RPM. But it's not likely he's got a drill press in his back pocket. I was trying to be practical to his application.