Fundamentals of Inlay DVDs

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Review by RogerBean posted 08-23-2010 11:01 PM 4868 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Fundamentals of Inlay DVDs Fundamentals of Inlay DVDs Fundamentals of Inlay DVDs Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve had the recent opportunity to spend some serious time with Steve Latta’s three DVD set produced by Lie Nielsen. Many of us are inspired by the great inlay work of traditional furniture, but find it intimidating to begin cutting little grooves and the like into our newly created masterpiece. So we often pull up short, and fail to finish the piece with the inlays it calls for. Or, we can try the trial and error method at our peril. Neither is necessary any longer. These videos show you, in detail, how to do it yourself.

If you are seriously interested in learning to inlay like a professional, I would strongly recommend these DVD’s. Steve Latta is an experienced and highly skilled instructor, easy to follow, and explains each topic clearly. He covers the tools, both purchased and shop-made, as well as the various jigs and fixtures that make perfect inlay possible. He covers the materials used, and alternative ways to prepare materials for inlay using both veneer and preparing from lumber. And, of course, the actual process of inlaying the material. He shows how to set up your table saw for slicing very thin inlays and working with the small pieces that comprise banding and inlay.

Steve’s focus is on Federal period furniture inlays, and he uses table legs and a spice chest to demonstrate many of his techniques. The video is first rate, professionally produced, and a very worthwhile purchase if you plan to do this kind of work on your projects.

“Fundamentals of Inlay: Federal Table Leg” focuses on the table leg which includes several different techniques in one DVD. At 191 minutes, this is not a quick overview, but a thorough discussion of how-to.

“Fundamentals of Inlay: Making Ornamental Bandings” clearly demonstrates the methods, tools, and materials involved in making your own decorative bandings. Steve shows how to lay up the “plank” from which the actual bandings are sawn (and resawn) to make up the complex and beautiful bandings used to decorate furniture, boxes, and whatever. At 91 minutes you get your money’s worth in hands-on tutorial.

He clearly demonstrates how all these little pieces come together to create banding for inlay. The process is made easier with the tools and fixtures such as which saw blades to use, and how to make up an effective but simple banding press.

“Fundamentals of Inlay: Stringing Line and Berry” discusses in detail how to inlay stringing, using a spice chest as the focus. Inlaying straight, and curved stringing, and even inlaying serifed letters with precision. Another treasure chest of information at 155 minutes.

Lie Nielsen now produces the key inlay tools of Steve’s design should you choose to purchase these rather than build your own. Personally, I plan to buy the entire set, which are very nice to look at, and better made than the ones I have been using. But, if you enjoy making tools, they should not be beyond the reach of many woodworkers to make. Steve pretty much tells you how, and discusses sharpening them so they work properly.

The videos clearly demonstrate how they’re used. It’s not absolutely necessary to buy all three DVDs, as each is treated as a somewhat separate topic, but the do complement each other and I think anyone interested in inlay will want all three.

My personal interest has lately been more toward box-making than furniture, though I do dabble in period furniture as well. And, I have been doing limited inlay work on Kentucky rifles and boxes for some years. I have no problem saying that I learned more than enough to find the time well spent. Steve’s tools and new methods have stimulated a number of new designs and ideas for how I can use inlay in my projects.

It’s hard to say too many good things about Steve and his instruction methods. Small scale work and detail decorative work is very much a matter of procedural details, usually learned by experience, that make perfect work possible. There is little room for clumsy methods. Having an expert show you how saves an enormous amount of time …and frustration. And, it will immediately show in your work.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4234 days

8 comments so far

View psh's profile


79 posts in 4276 days

#1 posted 08-24-2010 04:10 AM

Good review, thanks.

-- Peter, Central VA

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4396 days

#2 posted 08-24-2010 12:03 PM

thank´s for a great rewiew of the DVD´s


View shopmania's profile


702 posts in 4463 days

#3 posted 08-24-2010 02:49 PM

Sounds like an interesting set. Thanks!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, [email protected] Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View Randy63's profile


252 posts in 4173 days

#4 posted 08-24-2010 11:46 PM

Excellent review Roger and I agree completely about Steve Latta’s instructional dvd’s. They are easy to follow and to learn from. He shares a wealth of information in these dvd’s that is difficult to find anywhere else. If one has any desire to create or make decorative bandings, stringing, or other inlays these give you the details needed to accomplish those techniques. Two thumbs up here as well!

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4489 days

#5 posted 08-24-2010 11:49 PM

Excellent write up. If the DVDs are as well thought out and informative as your review, they must be fantastic. I’ll put these on my purchase list for the day I am ready to give serious inlay a try. Thanks.

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5366 days

#6 posted 11-07-2010 02:24 PM

Thank you for an effective review. Two of the three are on my wish list.


View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4147 days

#7 posted 11-07-2010 02:35 PM

Thanks for the tip on these videos. I just looked at your projects and your boxes are beautiful. You mentioned Kentucky rifles. I’ve always been interested in getting into building black powder rifles, not from scratch but from kits where you have to finish up the metal castings and parts and build the stocks etc. Where is there a good hobby site for this. BTW, I know of Dixie Gun works. It’s been a while since I went there.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bliss Woodshop's profile

Bliss Woodshop

70 posts in 3867 days

#8 posted 04-28-2011 08:57 AM

I had the opportunity to watch one of this video, good information.

-- Be Bliss. @blisswoodshop on IG

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