To mark the inlay line I’m using an exacto knife. I will follow all around the inside with the very tip of the knife, trying to keep it vertical so I get a clean outline. After I mark the line, I will use my disk grinder and my mini-mill to get it to size. On the mini-mill I use a small dremmel type sanding drum to take it down to the scribe line. Then it was sand, trial fit, sand some more, trail fit, repeat a hundred times over the next couple hours or so for each inlay.

Here is one of the practice inlay pieces. I wasn’t going to jump right in the with ivory since it cost $75 and I didn’t feel like learning a new skill with that kind of risk. I used scraps of wood, micarta, metal and what ever I had laying around. This is one of the first pratice pieces. See how horrible the fit is? Glad I didn’t start with the ivory.

Practice pile of inlays that didn’t fit.

More practice pieces. Getting a tight fit is tough.

Still more practice. I spent nearly a dozen hours practicing before I could get one inlay to fit with any acceptable level of precision.

I finally got some to fit. Here you can see two inserts that are done. These are of mild metal. I will pein these inserts in place temporarily when I shape and polish the inlay frame after it has been peined in place. The metal insert will keep the inside edge from rounding over. The metal inserts will be removed after the clean up and polishing is done on the bolster and replaced with the ivory for final sanding and shaping.

Now that I’ve practiced, I scribe the ivory using the exacto knife. The ivory looks rough here but will clean up nice and smooth when it’s done. I’m still nervous about this. One slip and I’m out a chunk of ivory and I set the whole process back three weeks while I wait for a replacement.

Taking a step from the scrimshanders, I use some paint to on the scribed line. I will clean this off leaving a nice, sharp blue line to shape to. Each ivory insert took nearly two hours to get to size with a decent tolerance of fit.

Now that the ivory is shaped and fitted, I can prep the bolster for peining. I had to use two different size pins to get the bolster to fit tight to the full tang of the knife. There are 7 pins in this knife. It looks like a porcupine.


<Back a page    Forward a page>

Mickley Custom Knives