In addition to making amazing mandolins, Tom's shop is also home to Precision Pearl which might just be the best inlay house in the US. Tom's mandolins have some of the most beautiful inlay designs, and #464 will feature Tom's Diamond Wire inlay, which is also affectionately named the Steve Smith inlay after the Ellis artist who inspired the design.
This diamond wire inlay features mother of pearl and paua abalone shell, along with sterling silver wire inlay to complete the elegant design.
There are many layers that go together to build an Ellis mandolin peghead. The top ebony veneer, with the inlay, has white and tortoise binding installed before it is mounted to the peghead. Behind that goes a sheet of white binding material that will be the side binding of the veneer once it is installed.
On the back side of the peghead goes another ebony veneer. These will all be installed at the same time to the curly maple neck.
Clamping cauls are used to spread pressure evenly across the peghead while the glue cures.
When the clamps come off, you can clearly see all of the layers that make up an Ellis peghead. It takes a lot of precision hand work to get to this point in the build.
Once everything is put together, the final routing of the peghead sides happens, and then the tuner peg holes are cut out of the final peghead.