A Craftman's Journey: Part IV

 by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Michael Shirley

Joe Hardwick's "square and compass" inlay
When Joe Hardwick and I started discussing the mandolin he was going to make for me, we didn’t have much trouble with the basics. It would be an F5 model with a vintage look but no pickguard, binding around the body, the neck, and the headstock, and kind of brown in appearance. It probably doesn’t say much for my artistic sensibilities that I really like brown. Anyway, that much was fairly clear, and I trust Joe enough to go with his instincts, but the headstock inlay required some thought. So one afternoon he came over to the house and we went online to see what was out there. We figured we’d order something pre-cut and install it. There’s a company that sells just about every inlay you can imagine, so we went to their website to see what we could find. After about half an hour of scrolling we hadn’t got any closer when suddenly we found it: the square and compasses. “Wow,” Joe said. “I’ve never seen that inlay before.” Neither had I. So I tried to order it. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I’m pretty tech savvy, but communicating with this company didn’t seem to be possible. I finally found an e-mail address and sent off a request for an order form. One of these days I may hear from them. In the meantime, Joe went home, and, as he is wont to do, started tinkering. He’d never done inlay before, but he figures that if someone else can do it, he can, and he’s usually right. He was this time, too. He sent me a photo of his first effort. “I just piddled with a knife and chisel and did this.” All I could think was, “wow.” I couldn’t wait to see what he’d do next.


This is the fourth installment of Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued . . . 

W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

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