Inlay Corner Table - Poplar/Curly Maple

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Project by Rick posted 03-10-2011 06:35 PM 3797 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was inspired by David J. Marks. His project was made from cherry with ebony inlay. The finish inspired by Norm Abram.

David Marks’ inlay was simple – contrasting woods, TUNG OIL :-) finish.

Norm’s was more complicated – contrasting woods, but added a dark stain. Question – how to protect the maple inlay?

His solution – artist’s brush and waxy shellac (I assume standard Bullseye, 3 lb cut) on the inlay. The stain didn’t adhere to the shellac, so the maple looked great.

My tests showed that the gel stains would cover too well. And I didn’t want to sand the inlay back down after the stain was applied.

Marc Spagnuolo gave me the winning tip – 1/8” masking tape (from a hobby store) to cover the inlay You’ll see a test board where I tested this and learned one important lesson on this technique: You have to get the tape flat on the inlay ALL THE WAY UP to the adjoining piece of tape, and once it’s tight against it, then go up and over.

You can see in the pic of the final piece where although I knew this part, didn’t execute perfectly and there was some stain worked under that gap where it slopes up to the piece of tape running perpendicular.

The stain recipe was:
  1. 1 coat General Finishes Georgian Cherry
  2. 1 coat 1:1 GF Georgian Cherry / Java
  3. 2 coats Arm-R-Seal undiluted, wiped on to build a finish
  4. 2 coats 1:1 diluted, wiped on to complete the finish.

The nested tables are now on display in our entry all – glass vase decoration for photography only.

-- There are many tempting parking places on the road to success

6 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2392 posts in 3747 days

#1 posted 03-10-2011 07:38 PM

Nice pair of tables, I find their shape very elegant :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 4626 days

#2 posted 03-10-2011 07:45 PM

thanks for reminding us that even the more common/reasonably priced woods like poplar have enormous ability to be fine furniture. I really like this project

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View MasterSergeant's profile


1441 posts in 3602 days

#3 posted 03-10-2011 11:26 PM

Very nice tables, I like the inlay nice color contrast.

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View tinnman65's profile


1409 posts in 4328 days

#4 posted 03-11-2011 12:08 AM

Looks nice, I wounder if you could have stained the top first then cut the inlay in. If the stain penetrates deep enough I would think that it would work, but I’m no finishing expert.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3741 days

#5 posted 03-11-2011 12:25 AM

wow thats nice.


View Rick's profile


144 posts in 4423 days

#6 posted 03-11-2011 02:03 AM

Thanks, everyone!

@tinnman – The problem with staining first is getting the inlay flush without marring the stained surface. I actually tried this. I had that as part of the original project description , but thinking it was way too long (compared to so many other guys’ posted projects), I deleted most of the gritty details. I eventually gave up, sanded it bare (inlay already in), and then taped the inlay. On close inspection, you can still see the edge of the stain at the inlay, but the only way I know around this would have been to follow Marc’s last part of advice – use a toner to darken, sprayed with HVLP. I have one, but didn’t know what recipe I’d use to get them this dark. I may still experiment, as the poplar is a really good resource and these, at least, turned out better than I thought they would.

-- There are many tempting parking places on the road to success

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