Bass Guitar Inlay Project, PART TWO

This is a project that a started in this post.


These are pieces of Padauk, a very hard, dense reddish purple wood. The strips of padauk are exactly 1/8″ thick so they fit in the saw kerfs. The kerf is slightly less than 1/8″ so there was some sanding involved to make the strips fit. So much sanding that I really should have just cut them a bit narrower. I was worried about having gaps at the sides of the inlay though, so I went with “Cut them wide and sand to fit”. More work, but a good result.

Here’s another view of the glueup. The strips were “buttered” with normal woodworkers yellow glue and gently hammered into place. The only places that it really mattered were at the ends, where I wanted them to go all the way to the bottom of the slots so there wasn’t any gaps. In this picture you can see:

1) the third strip from the top wasn’t wide enough and it dips below the surface of the guitar. I had to sand the whole surface down to meet that strip. oops.

2) I didn’t have any strips left long enough to fill the 5th slot, but that space is underneath the bridge so it doesn’t matter. I just used two short strips for the parts that show and left a gap.

I planed the padauk almost flush and then sanded the whole body smooth to a high grit. I used a normal hand plane to shave the padauk almost to the surface of the guitar, and then used a random orbit sander to sand the rest of the way. I wanted to sand some of the guitar surface off too because it was dirty and oil-stained from finger grease. I started with 220 paper and worked my way down to 320, 400 and 600. That’s pretty fine for woodworking, but I really wanted a nice surface.

I used the neck mounting holes to attach a scrap stick so I had a place to clamp it in the vice, because when I was applying finish I didn’t want to have to touch it. This made a nice handle.

wanted a matte natural wood type feel, so I used Watco Danish Oil Finish. The wood soaked up *a lot* of the oil. For the first coat I actually applied the Danish Oil with 600 grit sandpaper. I got the paper wet with the oil and gently sanded over the whole surface of the guitar. This mixes very fine dust with the oil and gets into the pores of the wood to fill them and make the surface even smoother. Then I applied heavy coats of the oil with a piece of dish towel almost continuously for about 15 minutes. Every time I wiped on oil, it absorbed and went back to being dry wood, especially on the end grain on the end of the body. I just kept adding more and more until it slowed down in absorbing. I let it sit for a half an hour, then added another heavy coat of oil. After another half hour I wiped it down with a clean lint-free towel and then let it sit for 24 hours to dry. The next day I repeated the whole process (even the sandpaper, because the oil had raised the grain of the wood a little and made it a bit rough).

This is the back, wet with a fresh coat of oil, ready to be wiped off. Inside the pockets for the electronics you can see the deep purple/blue that I think it used to be before the previous owner scraped the finish off..

Here it is laid out ready to reassemble. The bridge is in place. This poor bass really needs a completely new suite of electronics and hardware. The rudimentary bridge is banged up, and the electronics have obviously been soldered and resoldered many times. My budget doesn’t allow for it though, so it all goes back on the way it is.

Finished and strung, ready to play.

A slightly different angle so you can see the nice matte finish. I love it.

The finished product.  I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. I’d consider doing this to a much better quality bass now…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *