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Thread: Inlay with hand tools?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Spring Hill FL.
    Blog Entries

    Inlay with hand tools?

    OK up to this point I have used a router with an inlay kit to cut out my inlays and create the recess.
    I hate doing this, I feel like I have no control over the delicate inlay piece, and all it would take is one slip of the template and my drawer front or whatever I am inlaying is ruined.

    What is the traditional method of creating a recess for an inlay. I have browsed the bookstores locally and found nothing worth buying. I have also searched the web with little quality result.

    I would assume that the general concept would be to create the inlay, then use it as a template to mark the location of the recess. once marked use a chisel and router plane to create a flat bottomed recess for the inlay?

    Any info or direction to good information would be greatly appricated. I can't wait to sell that router Inlay kit.
    Andrew Gibson
    Infinity Cutting Tools

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Danbury CT
    Lie-Nielsen sells inlay tools developed by Steve Latta. They also have 3 DVDs by him showing correct inlay technique. They are very high quality videos. He has also written a substantial number of articles for Fine Woodworking Magazine, many of them dealing specifically with inlay. He was interviewed at Lie-Nielsen and the video is on YouTube.
    Last edited by Jeff Burks; 04-23-2010 at 9:55 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I do all of my inlay with hand tools. Make yourself a miniature "old woman's tooth" router. For the carving on my lion's head violin neck in the FAQ section,I used a little router with about a 1/32" wide blade to accurately lower the background. It is so much more controllable than any Dremel that I wouldn't even have considered using an electric tool. Plus,that neck was carved in public.

  4. Something interesting a fellow member of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild showed me is the technique he uses for making stringing material.

    He takes a sheet of maple veneer (he has some older 1/32" veneer that works well - I think it would be ok with the thinner stuff, too, though) and runs it through an old hand-crank chrome pasta maker...

    He ends up with a bunch of thin strips of veneer that are perfect for adding to a small kerf he's cut into the wood with a beading tool of his choice and a custom-ground blade for that thickness. For thicker stringing, he just glued two pieces of the pasta veneer together and used a beading blade that cut a bigger kerf.

    You could also run a sheet of walnut veneer through and make a sandwich of walnut between two pieces of maple.

    I shared that technique with a bunch of people over the next week and within another seven days, I received a gift from my best friend's wife. She was at a garage sale and found an old chrome pasta maker for $5.

    So now I can use that technique myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    +1 on the Steve Latta DVDs. When Lie-Nielsen was in Oakland a few years ago, there was an inlay demo. Not sure if it was Steve Latta. When they were in Portland in February, I picked up two of the videos. The third one was just released unless I missed one and there are four. Anyway, it should be on its way to me as these pixels are marching across the screen.

    Took a day off yesterday and Candy and I went in to Portland. It makes her crazy to be in a town where I have absolutely no idea of where I am and try to get her to read a map to give me directions.

    We did get to Gilmer Wood before they closed for the day. She wanted to go because there was some tiger eye stones listed on their last page. She is a rock hound.

    Anyway, I found some wood in the bargain bins that can hopefully be used for cutting some string inlay. Now my plan is to fix up a plane to take shavings thick enough to be used for inlay. Or maybe glue a couple of shavings together.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Chevy Chase, Maryland
    I added the ebony inlay on this cherry drawer front in just the way you describe:

    A good sharp marking knife, a sharp router plane of the right size for the scale of the work, and occassionally a sharp chisle get the job done relatively easily. The part that need the most care, of course, is the edges - sneak up on them and use the knife well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    extreme southeast Nebraska

    This is all Hand tool work.

    I make all my own material for inlay and parquetry work,

    This is my thickness planer, I use a stanley 140 or a woody version I made with it.

    This is my width shooting board.

    And my small end shooting board.

    I use a veneer slitter,(marking gauge) with small fixed knives instead of pins, to mark the strips for width on both top and bottom sides then snap it off, and also to mark the base piece sides before using a small hand router and a chisel to remove the material for the recess.

    Last edited by harry strasil; 04-24-2010 at 11:42 AM.
    Hand tools are very modern- they are all cordless
    NORMAL is just a setting on the washing machine.
    Be who you are and say what you feel... because those that matter... don't mind...and those that mind...don't matter!
    By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand

  8. #8

    Thumbs up Wow.

    Dear Harry,

    I am packing up all my belongings, abandoning my family, and my job. Please look for me to move in with you to learn how to do that beautiful inlay work you do.



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