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Small Projects #55: My first ever router inlay!

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Blog entry by Madmark2 posted 10-18-2021 09:37 PM 770 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 54: Steampunk Stereo Weather Science Station Part 55 of Small Projects series no next part

Been trying to get set up to route inlays. Well, there are a lot of little bits to it and I finally got it (mostly) working.


Its not perfect, and I had to rubber mallet it home, but it fits!

Step 1 was to draw the inlay pattern. I tried freehanding it and using patterns from the internet. No real joy. So now I need CAD. My old windows 7 box is dead and gone and win 10 turns it nose up at an old version of AutoCAD. (Sigh)

Luckily I found Nano CAD, a free Autocad work-alike program. So one problem solved. I’ve used inkjet to print layout templates and they always smear. So now to find a cheap laser printer. $125 later I can print non smear.

Never having done this before I wasn’t sure how much to allow for clearance. Turns out the inlay is 3/8” smaller than the original pattern. Next pattern will be targeted for specific dimensions.

I rubber cemented the pattern on what I thought was 1/4” (metric 6mm! Arrrgh!) and drilled and scrollsawed the pattern. I’d put center marks on the drawing so drilling was easy.

Although I tried to get everything perfect, I’m not a CNC machine and there was a little variation in the centers. This means there are four possible orientations but only one aligns correctly.


Remains of the laser print on 6mm template.

After fiddling with different double stick tapes, I used Alien Tape to hold the pattern in place. The extra 2mm thickness between the template and stock leveled things out nicely.

The inlay kit came with a PC mounting ring, 1/8” solid carbide bit, and alignment pin. Some of you here may recall me ending up with THREE alignment cones so the baseplate was already well centered. The alignment pin is bigger than the bit itself. So if the alignment pin fits, the bit clearances will be perfect.

I cut the mortise recess first. It was sloppy at first but I soon got the hang of it. The big thing is to lift the router clear often to clear the kerf. The initial pass is the hardest because there is nowhere for the swarf to go. I cut the mortise 1/4” deep but should have only gone 1/8” deep.

I initially tried making the inlay out of 1/4” stock. No Bueno. I switched to 1/8” inlay stock and got much better results. Getting the template and bit spacings right is the key. If everything had been correctly sized, (real 1/4” instead of 6mm ply) and thin stock, it would have been silk.


Cutout remainder.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!



1 comment so far

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

5417 posts in 3270 days


#1 posted 10-18-2021 11:13 PM

Good job….it feels good to figure things out.

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