In many ways, the Virtruvian Man was the easiest part of this project. The actual inlay is made up of only 10 pieces, which just happens to be the same amount used to create Jesus’ feet on the pickguard. The real challenge with this inlay was that I would need to work over the back of an existing guitar. I would normally prefer to inlay the back prior to building the guitar so that I don’t have to deal with the domed surface, add to that the fact that we’re not talking about just any guitar here… I mean you just can’t go back and make another 1,500,000th guitar! Standing there looking down on probably one of the most valuable guitars in the world while holding a router spinning at 30,000 rpm’s is not something I recommend for you first day on the job. No matter how many times you do something there is always the risk that something could go wrong… the router slips out of your hand… the bit slowly works its way out until you’ve cut a hole clean through…
Because I would only have one shot I had to devise some template that would allow me to make highly accurate cuts for the circle and rectangle and devise a method for locating them accurately as well. Using a small router with a guide bushing and 1/16” carbide bit the cuts were made by following templates cut from ¼” medium density fiberboard (MDF) that were clamped to the guitar body.
The V-Man was cut from a piece of Corian called “Chamois” which had just the right look of the old parchment of the original drawing.
Here the pattern is placed on the guitar back to make sure the size is correct. Next, a piece of cardboard was cut to fit the front of the guitar and taped in place to protect the soundboard:
To accurately cut channels for the circle and rectangle, ¼” MDF was cut into 2 identical squares. The pattern for the rectangle was cut into one and the circle into the other. Next 2 straight edges were placed so that the rectangle and square would be perfectly aligned (below).
Click here to see the rest of this series on Flickr. And then come back for the next post as Bob goes back to work on The Vitruvian Man.
Harvey Leach, on behalf of Martin Guitar.