Wine Rack Expedition #9: Inlay, wood burning and the finish line.... YAY :)

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Blog entry by Demowen posted 06-25-2009 03:17 AM 6125 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Finishing Process Begun..... Part 9 of Wine Rack Expedition series no next part

Well folks, it has been quite a while since I’ve been able to get on here and talk about the project. If you haven’t read any of the previous blogs, this is a wine rack that I built for my brother’s wedding. If you want the basic construction, see the prior posts. From here on is the little decoration details…

I hope I don’t have too many pictures ;). I think I’ll let the pictures do some of the talking for me but I want to capture the whole process.

At the very beginning of the project I intended to do an inlay of a grapevine. I bought a pack of 50 veneer samples for about 25 bucks. I practiced on a few domestic species and got mad at it. I decided then to do a wood burning with a small solid inlay instead of veneer.

Start out with a design in mind. My girlfriend was kind enough to draw this for me. Quite talented if you ask me! (points scored :) ) I copied her picture so that I didn’t mess it up, then printed it out to the final size.

At this point, it is time to get comfortable…. Grab all the essentials for the job. fine point pencil, the picture, a sharp razor blade, a little tape and a nice tall glass of Sweet tea (southern style or bust! another one of my girlfriend’s talents)
the essentials

I like to tape the picture directly to the piece of wood. Piece by piece I cut out a little bit on the line and trace that edge with a pencil. If you have a bigger burning it would be a good idea to borrow a slide projector and a clear piece of paper to project onto the wood and just trace the lines that way.

You can see that is is just a little bit of patience and a lot of relaxation!
cut out

Notice that I am cutting the line out on its edge. That way, when I trace the void, the pencil mark will be exactly where it is supposed to be and not bumped off to the side.
cut on the edge of the line

When you cut, its a good idea to put a finger close to where you are cutting in order to hold the paper down. If you don’t you will encounter some paper ripping instead of slicing. Just be careful to place your finger in a location that is safely away from the blades edge.
Also, cut towards the edge with your blade. if you don’t then the paper tends to buckle before it cuts. Here is what happens if you don’t do that. Not a big deal if you can figure what the line is, but too bad and you might have some trouble.
tear out

Trace the line. Self explanatory.

Now, I’m not gonna tell you how to wood burn. I was never taught how and I think I liked learning by trial and error. Just get some scrap wood and practice a small design. Once you get better you can start adding curves and shading. Just don’t touch the hot end!!!!!!

Now that I burned the lines of the grapes (with her help) it is time to start adding some shading. I think we could have ended here but I wanted more detail.
finished the burning for now

She looked at the original design and colored in the shading with a pencil. When you copy a picture it is difficult to get the shading to copy correctly. The design may have changed slightly too so it was a good idea just to transfer the shading by eye.

Isn’t she beautiful?!
copy the shading

And very carefully executing the shading…
intense shading

Just in the middle of shading so it looks a little rough. It’s good to just do a little at a time and then go back over the whole thing because if you shade too much in one area you don’t want to have to do it over the whole area.
looks a little rough so far


I was by myself when I did this so there won’t be quite as many pictures as there was for the wood burning. Sorry.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this picture is. I am obviously pointing at the area I’ve cut out but I think I was just showing off my cut. Not even sure how I did that.

Brittany drew a flower to go with the grape vine (not really a grape flower.. shhh don’t tell!). I taped it to a piece of yellow heart that was about 3/8” thick. I cut it out the pedals individually on the scroll saw so that the pedals had the grain moving away from the center of the flower.
Once I did that, I held each pedal down in its final location and traced it. You can trace it with a knife, but I had a hard time holding the pedal and tracing it with a knife so I just used a pencil. Once you have the lines drawn, just slightly scrape the wood with a sharp knife. Make sure that you are on the inside of the pencil marks!
I have a dremel tool with a router base that I hogged the material out with so it is a good idea sever the top fibers of the wood. When you get close to the sliced line you will see the wood fray upward in a type of curly motion. When you get right to the line that fray will immediately disappear. (Marc Spagnuolo has a great blog on this with a sun inlay.)
In areas that were too tight for my dremel I used the smallest chisel I could (which happened to be a #2 3mm Phiel spoon gouge.)
creating a slice

If everything is just a tad too small you are in business. Just sand the inlay piece to a very slight taper or touch the cut out part with a little TLC. Or do what I did, see if it’s close, put a drop of glue in the bottom and hammer it home with a wooden or rubber mallet! You might notice that there is a very thin gap between some of the pedals. That’s okay. Wait till you plane and scrape it flush to deal with that. If it is much bigger you may want to consider gluing a shaving from a hand plane into the gap. When I planed this flush the gap disappeared somehow.
just need to plane it now

I finished the inlay with a 1/4” drill bit and a 1/4” dowel for the center. Then I put a couple of coats of Spar Varnish down. Why spar varnish? I don’t know, I have a lot of it that I got cheap. I’d do something else if I did it again. Just make sure that if you will ever have alcohol near your furniture (I don’t recommend drinking) then make sure that you don’t use an alcohol based finish on like shellac.
finish drying

Now I guess that it is time to just show some beauty shots…
looks good!


see the butterflies?

there they are!

-- Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

4 comments so far

View lew's profile


12843 posts in 4239 days

#1 posted 06-25-2009 03:24 AM

Great Instructions and a beautiful piece. Your brother is very lucky!

Edit: After reading this, I realized I missed the entire work up to this point. Sorry for not responding. This is an awesome piece of furniture that anyone would be proud to have in their home. You did a super job. You and Brittany should be very proud!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View patron's profile (online now)


13650 posts in 3824 days

#2 posted 06-25-2009 04:04 AM

very nice , clean wine rack .
i like your style of learning by doing !
thanks for the tutorial ,
you both did a good job .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 4163 days

#3 posted 06-25-2009 06:42 AM

Love the way this came out! Great work by you and your “better” half.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View drumpriest's profile


9 posts in 4259 days

#4 posted 06-26-2009 09:36 AM

You should be proud, that’s a very nice piece, one that will stand the test of time in both durability and style.

-- Keith Z. Leonard, drums first, wood second....

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