Inlay #1: Table leg top face detail

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Blog entry by unisaw2 posted 02-13-2013 06:37 PM 3122 reads 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This is a project from a Fine Woodworking article. Sept/Oct 2009 #207, page 70 by Garrett Hack.

I am learning how to do inlay. So far I have found that sharp tools are a must. Good light with a magnifying glass are necessary for my relatively old eyes. This is small detail work.

I started with a drawing to determine dimensions for an inlay on the top face of a table leg.
After I was happy with the drawing, I carefully laid out the dimensions and cut the recess 1/8” deep. Most of the waste was taken out with a trim router and ¼” bit. Finished up with sharp chisels.

My shop made Thickness planer. It uses #5 bedrock jack plane to make very thin strips to an exact thickness. This works much better than a powered planer that can “eat” thin strips if the grain is not perfect. The jig can be adjusted by changing the bottom runner to change the thickness desired. Minimum thickness of 1/16” to a maximum of 3/16” thick. Width depends on the plane blade of 2” A stop block at the front holds the material from sliding, and I use my other hand to keep the material from buckling. It works great.

Inlay strips 3/16” wide x 1/16” thick x 24” long.


Strips are cut to ½” long to ¼” long with a pull saw and small miter box clamped to the bench.


Glue up: Leg is clamped to bench. Used magnifying glass again. A glue bottle with needle applicator is useful. Tweezers are good to keep my fat fingers out of the way.


To flush up the 3/16” inlay in the 1/8” recess, I used a really sharp block plane, then finished with sandpaper.


Finished inlay. Leg is cherry, outside boarder is wenge and holly, interior panel is maple crotch.

This was a fun project, it is really important to have sharp tools and take your time. I now have to finish the table that it goes in. Thanks for looking.

-- JJ - Northern Illinois

6 comments so far

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2901 days

#1 posted 02-13-2013 06:47 PM

This is kind of blog I come here for! Detailed steps, good photography, beautiful product.

-- Brian Timmons -

View pintodeluxe's profile


5949 posts in 3229 days

#2 posted 02-13-2013 07:07 PM

Nice work. I love inlays. There are so many different looks you can achieve with the same basic technique.

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

View jack1's profile


2128 posts in 4443 days

#3 posted 02-13-2013 07:20 PM

nice detail

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View stefang's profile


16705 posts in 3750 days

#4 posted 02-14-2013 07:09 PM

Nice work and a perfect result! I like your thickness jig a lot too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


21006 posts in 3220 days

#5 posted 02-14-2013 08:30 PM

Very well done, and ez to follow. Nice job

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 3076 days

#6 posted 02-16-2013 05:08 AM

Nice blog!! Very detailed. Would love to see more blogs like this. How about a blog on making your planing jig? That was a really fantastic jig! Cant wait to see the finished table!!

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

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