Any ideas on how you might cut/inlay this?

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Forum topic by Angela posted 07-26-2012 05:39 PM 2407 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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205 posts in 3971 days

07-26-2012 05:39 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question ideas inlay craving

A friend has asked me to make him a small coffin for his ashes. It’s made from Cypress wood, which I’ve never worked with before and hopefully will never again because it’s so soft and dents from anything. He wants of his cross inlayed in the top but only about half the depth of the cross.

So far the only methods I though of is to outline the cross, use a Dremel tool and hand cut the wood out. The other way is to photocopy the cross and cut a template on the scroll saw, but I don’t think I’m that good with a scroll saw to make the template that good.

Any ideas how you might do this?

I own a Dremel, a Bosch handheld router and some chisels but no real carving tools. Also the string will be removed.

Thanks for any ideas

-- - Helping other woodworker's

13 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1820 posts in 3934 days

#1 posted 07-26-2012 06:04 PM

Make a template, use a guide bushing on the router, perhaps one of the bushing sets for doing butterfly inserts…

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3372 days

#2 posted 07-26-2012 06:24 PM

Is the cross wood? You could affix it with hot glue or epoxy to a board and run it through the bandsaw vertically against the fence. Then epoxy it down. You’d have the look of inlay without removing any base material.

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 3971 days

#3 posted 07-27-2012 07:40 PM

Thanks for the ideas. I suggested to him before about gluing it on instead but he wanted me to try it anyways even if I screw up. Also he would never let me cut the cross or doing anything like that. It means more to him than I could ever understand. But thanks. Well we’ll see what happens

-- - Helping other woodworker's

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

533 posts in 4327 days

#4 posted 07-27-2012 07:46 PM

A router with a template will not get you anywhere near close enough in the corners. And glueing it on is well, a little cheesy for such a monumental project.
There is no reason why you cant’ inlay that. Use a small router, sometimes called a laminate trimmer. A bit no bigger than the smallest width on the cross should be used. Use a sharp pencil or sharp awl to outline the cross on the wood. Remove the bulk with the fine router bit. Then clean up the remainder with a fine sharp chisel. Take care and take your time and it will turn out great.
The first time I inlayed butterflies (not dutchmen, but actual butterflies cut out of birdseye maple) I cut the recess on a scrap of wood to test my fit first. That also gave me a bit of experience to do it on the real wood (which was purpleheart).
Good luck!

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


787 posts in 4348 days

#5 posted 07-27-2012 07:50 PM

That might be a fun project to practice with. Since you’re hesitant about scroll sawing out a pattern, here’s what I’d do:

The round, central part of the cross would be a Forstner bit of the appropriate size, drilled out to the appropriate depth. If you don’t have a Forstner bit, careful work with a sharp spade bit can do the trick.

Next, trace out the outline of the cross and clamp guides on either side of each leg of the cross. Using a straight bit, hog out a majority of each leg of the cross to the appropriate depth.

Next would be a razor knife scoring the outline of each leg of the cross, a little deeper each time, for a nice, crisp outline. Use a chisel to pare away what wood you have scored, or turn the razor knife sideways and do it that way.

Have fun. Good luck! Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 3971 days

#6 posted 08-23-2012 08:44 PM

Thanks everyone for their imput.
OK, I finished and it came out perfect. I wanted to share how I ended up doing it. I just happened to run across a recent article in Fine Woodworking magazine that had a photo of a Dermel in a base made by Stewart-MacDonald. After doing a search online I located the base and some very small router bits that would fit in a Dermel. I outline the cross on the wood then used the base and several different small router bits and routed out the area. The base held it steady and maintained the dept of the cut. It allowed me to clearly see what I was cutting and the small router bits were amazing strong but very small. I slowly worked my way to the edges so the cross would fit tight.

-- - Helping other woodworker's

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5293 days

#7 posted 08-23-2012 08:48 PM

Excellent job!!!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View waho6o9's profile


9018 posts in 3652 days

#8 posted 08-23-2012 08:54 PM

Amazing, very good job Angela.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3765 days

#9 posted 08-24-2012 01:29 AM

If you routed that freehand, you now qualify as a “Master Router”!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JarodMorris's profile


167 posts in 3450 days

#10 posted 08-24-2012 02:57 AM

I’ve often had an idea but have not had a chance or need to see if it would work. In watching my kids play with play dough one day, I thought, “Oh, I could take something, press it into play dough, let it dry and have a template to use for a 1:1 or whatever. I also thought about using something like this, or clay, or whatever, to hold my wrenches and other tools in place when I get around to making a tool box for my garage. It would be perfect to hold my tools and know exactly where they go without having to trace around them.

Any one else tried this before or something similar?

-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".

View Loren's profile


11187 posts in 4723 days

#11 posted 08-24-2012 03:07 AM

That worked out nicely. Well done.

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 4010 days

#12 posted 08-24-2012 05:35 AM

You did a very good job on this very special project.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4360 days

#13 posted 08-24-2012 04:02 PM

Angela, Not only did you do a superb job with your inlay, I want to compliment you on your choice of grain pattern for the top. The grain looks like the top grew around the cross. Great job.

-- John @

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