Best Practice to Inlay Hand-Cut Detail

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Cindy Braunheim posted 12-17-2013 06:20 PM 1488 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Cindy Braunheim's profile

Cindy Braunheim

51 posts in 3096 days

12-17-2013 06:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box inlay question tip purpleheart maple carving shaping

I have a very special project I am designing – a (relatively) basic heart-shaped keepsake box made of purple heart, with a Japanese character made of maple, inlayed into the top. The character will be delicate and fragile – the box top, not so much. I am enVisioning a slightly rounded top, following the imagined contour of a heart, so the inlay would need to withstand the shaping process, too.

I am wondering if there are some techniques out there that you can suggest.

Thank you!

-- Cindy in Seattle,

8 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


8553 posts in 2631 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 06:25 PM

I would make the character out of at least 1/4” wood. Inlay it before shaping the lid. Get some double sided tape, stick the character to the lid, then trace around it carefully with an exacto knife. Remove the character and use a router to rout out where the character goes. Get close to the line, but leave the final sizing for a chisel. Make sure it fits, then add glue, and pound it home with a mallet and a piece of scrap to even out the blows.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Cindy Braunheim's profile

Cindy Braunheim

51 posts in 3096 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 07:38 PM

jmartel – Thank you! I was thinking along those lines myself. It’s nice to have confirmation of an idea before I attack it.

-- Cindy in Seattle,

View pintodeluxe's profile


5975 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 08:02 PM

If the inlay is a simple shape, and not too intricate, a router with inlay bushing will yield excellent results. You make a template out of 1/4” mdf and carpet tape it to your project. Rout the recess in the project with the special sleeve on the bushing. Then use the same template to cut the inlay piece. Remove the sleeve from the bushing for this operation.
The pieces will fit perfectly with little or no hand work.
Whiteside makes a nice one, with a carbide bit.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4606 days

#4 posted 12-18-2013 01:03 AM

what jmartel said (unlike Willie I’m assuming that the shape is complex enough that you can’t do it with a template), with two additions:

First, you want a 3/16 or 1/8 or so router bit. Given that I had the “don’t try to rout freehand” drilled into me by bad experiences, I didn’t realize how easy it was to control a small router bit. And practice with that smaller bit before you try for real). I have found that bead stores have interesting brass or stone shapes to practice inlay with.

Second, if you get it together and discover that you’ve got gaps, break out the cyanoacrylate glue. Not the gap filling stuff, but the most flowing liquid option. Pour some in the gaps, break out the 220 sandpaper, generate some sawdust. Repeat. Can fix some truly epic goofs.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Cindy Braunheim's profile

Cindy Braunheim

51 posts in 3096 days

#5 posted 12-18-2013 05:11 PM

Thank you all for your responses – I appreciate your time and expertise.

I glued up the blank last night and will post some pics of the project on my LJ Home page later today.

Thank you, again!

-- Cindy in Seattle,

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2737 posts in 3403 days

#6 posted 12-19-2013 02:29 AM

Have you considered trying Double bevel inlay? Done on a scroll saw. I do a lot of it and if done with thick enough woods it could be shaped the way you want it after the inlay is done.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3822 days

#7 posted 12-19-2013 02:38 AM

i make hearts from 3/4” mdf
just cut one of the heart side profile
(some look good some ‘boxy’
so i keep at it till i get a heart i like)

then slpit the mdf into two pieces
and glue them back together
and sand even

then like pintodelux shows
use the inlay bushing to cut a part and a matching setting

make the mdf template large enough
to ride the router base on
without it tipping

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

View Cindy Braunheim's profile

Cindy Braunheim

51 posts in 3096 days

#8 posted 12-20-2013 06:10 PM

Thanks, Jim, but I don’t yet own a scroll saw –
Thanks, patron, I appreciate your tip!

-- Cindy in Seattle,

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics