Designing and preparing the olive wood inlay for the rosette

The rosette is one of the first things guitar players look at on a guitar (besides the headstock) although its purpose is entirely decorative. I like a subtle but stylish rosette. It should make a statement without dominating the guitar.

In my previous blog I wrote about the olive wood log. I knew I wanted a rosette that featured the beautiful grain of the olive wood, but wasn’t sure how yet. I decided on a design comprising a series of inlay blocks, big enough to show off the grain without being too wide. I drew the design on paper first, experimenting with different sizes for the blocks:

Rosette sketch

Rosette sketch

Next, I outlined the blocks on the wood itself. This helped to get an idea of how visible the grain would be for varying block sizes. I then realised that small blocks was not the way to go since this wouldn’t do justice to the olive wood. I settled for a series of 12 blocks, 14mm wide: big enough to show some interesting grain patterns, but not too big so as to dominate the guitar.

Olive wood veneer with sketch for the rosette inlay

Olive wood veneer with sketch for the rosette inlay

I now had to make some olive wood veneer. I spent hours getting the olive wood to an acceptable thickness for cutting the inlay pieces (about 2mm). I used a plane for the initial smoothening, followed by a scraper plane and a scraper blade. It was hard work. The plane got rid of wood fast, but also led to chipping and tear out because of the wavy grain direction. The scraper worked better, although it was slower and harder to create a perfectly even thickness with this tool (I find the scraper tends to follow existing contours, rather than altering contours like a plane does).

Next, I cut out the sketch and glued the paper inlay pieces to the wood. This helped to see which areas of the veneer I would be using and what the grain pattern would look like when the pieces were cut out. I sawed the inlay pieces using a coping saw, leaving room for the final trimming, which I wanted to do later when the rosette channel was cut.

Here’s the result so far:

The olive wood inlay pieces for the rosette, cut to approximate shape using a coping saw

The olive wood inlay pieces for the rosette, cut to approximate shape using a coping saw

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2 thoughts on “Designing and preparing the olive wood inlay for the rosette

  1. Pingback: Fitting the olive wood inlay into the rosette | Guitar building by hand

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