MOP blanks glued

to substrate

     Changing bits is required for this design... 0.050" end mill to hog out the inlay pocket, and 0.025" end mill to sharpen up the pocket profile and to cut the narrow points at the ends of the inlay pocket.

     For cutting the design from MOP blanks I use a 0.035" end mill.  0.035" might be a little heavy, but I  really  dislike breaking bits.

     Glue the MOP blanks to the substrate with fish  or hide glue.  After the MOP has been cut, put substrate and MOP into a microwave (30-40 seconds) to loosen the glue holding them together.

     The MOP profile is cut on the outside of the vector path (of course). The inlay pocket and profile are cut on the inside of the vector... but with a different bit.  Requires 3 different toolpaths and bits:


     1. Cut the MOP profile (0.035"; outside path)

     2. Hog out the inlay pocket (0.050"; inside path)

     3. Finish profile and sharps. (0.025"; inside path).

Rule of thumb: Pass depth is set to half the diameter of the bit.

    I'm such a beginner with CNC.  This I know: Keep the MOP designs simple to start. Check and double check everything. Measure twice, cut once. There's no going back. 

​   Much of the above will undoubtedly change as I learn more. 

  ALWAYS, make sure that your wits are sharp when programming and operating this equipment. to cut the pockets.

Complete Set

March, 2018

Learning the CNC

     Inlay Ideas




Headstock Ideas

Bridge Ideas

     Learning and execution are a challenge. Explaining in words is an even bigger challenge.  If you have questions, email.

      I will try to answer all questions.


     Still playing with CNC and Inlays.  Here's a report. Christmas gift NextWave Shark II. The CNC router is oversized for the inlays that I want to put into a guitar fretboard and head stock. No matter, the Shark II system works quite well for my purposes and is a vast improvement over Dremel hand-and-eye inlays. 


     At the start, there's some concentrated learning that needs to take place.  V-Carve software and instructional videos are supplied with the machine. Still, there are about 25 different ways to screw things up.  Broken bits, at $20 each, are part of the cost of education (Harvey Tools). End mills, 0.025" - 0.062" will get you started. Exact diameters depend on the size and sharp curves of your MOP designs. Pictured here are two bits, 0.025" and 0.050".

Before cutting fret slots

CNC-cut Mother of Pearl

12th fret

Freehand design...

​Toolpath vectors

on MOP blank

Tiny bits... 

            0.025" and 0.050"

MOP cut on order. Pocket with the CNC.