Decorative inlays inlay kits

HeartEZ: The Perfect Introductory Inlay Kit

3 different styles of hearts built with the EZInlays HeartEZ template.  This template is the perfect introductory inlay kit.

For just $19.99, shipping's included, you can get your hands on the HeartEZ template.  By following these instructions and using our template you'll cut three inlays and two voids while building a pretty cool heart.  Build a HeartEZ or two and you'll see how EZ it is to build an inlay.  At the end of the process you'll have the confidence and techniques needed to tackle any decorative inlay!

Get Your Tools and Materials

The tools, needed to build an inlay, are:

  • A plunge router equipped with a router inlay kit.
  • Double sided tape and scissors to hold things together.
  • A paint scrapper / putty knife to pry things apart.
  • Clamps to hold everything securely.
  • Sanding tools / materials because you are working with wood!
  • A chisel and a pic can come in handy too.
A mallet, paint scraper, scissors, chisel, and a pic are all useful tools when building an inlay
Required tools include a plunge router, a brass inlay kit, clamps, and a hand held RO sander.

For materials you’ll need three pieces of wood with varying colors and grain patterns. Minimum recommended dimensions for each species of wood are 3” X 3” X 1/4” thick. Wider and or longer is better so you have more surface area to affix your templates!

 

For this inlay I chose to use Cocobolo as the focal point of my heart (the center). For the middle heart I chose a quilted Maple, and for the outer heart I’m using Red Heart.

 

For thickness you can use anything from about 1/8” to 3/8” thick. Much thinner and the material gets pretty fragile, much thicker and the material gets hard to cut.

Mark the Materials

Use the template to trace the appropriate heart pattern on each material. When tracing the heart don’t forget to “notch” where the alignment marks are. Using the edge of the template, draw the alignment marks on the inlay material so it looks like a big plus.

 

For the center heart trace Pattern 1. You’ll cut this piece out as an inlay.  This picture shows both Pattern 1 and Pattern 2 traced on the Quilted Maple which makes up the middle heart.

To build an EZInlays inlay all you need are alignment marks, no measuring is required.

 

I drew both patterns on the middle heart because it will have a void cut into it, get filled with a Cocobolo inlay, and then get cut out and used as the inlay for the Red Heart.

 

Draw Pattern 2 and Pattern 3 on the Red Heart.  Draw Pattern 1 on the Cocobolo.

Cut the Pattern 1 Void

After you Prepare Your Inlay Materials, Affix the Template to the middle heart material with Pattern 1 centered over the area you marked in the prior step. Make sure you use enough double sided tape to hold the template in place during the routing process!!! Secure the assembly to the workbench.

 

You're Cutting a Void in the base material (center heart) where the Pattern 1 inlay will be placed. I like to cut the void first, when possible, so I can get use to the shape being cut and how the router feels as I make the cut.

 

Because we are cutting a VOID put the bushing on the router inlay kit and set the depth of the cut to be slightly shallower than the thickness of the inlay material.

Usually you don’t want the inlay to show all the way through the base material so ensure the depth of the cut is at least 1/16” to 1/8” shallower than the thickness of the base material.

When cutting a void make sure the bushing is on the brass inlay kit to correctly position the router bit.
When cutting a void make sure thedepth of cut doesn't exceed the height of the inlay material or the depth of the base material.

Remove the Template

After cutting the void remove the template from the inlay material.

 

Use a paint scraper to wedge between the template and inlay material. Gently pry the template from the inlay material. Use care when prying the template off. Because the templates are made from a PVC material they have the strength and flexibility to last a lifetime if cared for properly.  Excessive bending of the template can cause it to break, use care when removing the template!

After the void is cut use a paint scraper to gently pry the template off of the inaly material.

Cut the Pattern 1 Inlay

To Cut the Pattern 1 Inlay position Pattern 1 over the area marked on the center inlay material. Using double sided tape affix the template to the inlay material and secure the entire assembly to the workbench.

 

Because you’re cutting an inlay, remove the bushing from the inlay kit and set the depth of the cut to go all the way through the inlay material

 

When cutting an inlay make sure the collar, on the router base, remains in constant contact with the template wall while routing. If the collar,loses contact with the wall the piece will be ruined and will need to be cut out again! So take your time while routing the piece especially when navigating the point of the heart.

You need to clamp the inlay assembly to the workbench so the only thing that moves during the routing process is the router itself.
When cutting an inlay remove the bushing from the brass inlay kit to correctly position the router bit while cutting.
When cutting an inlay set the depth of plunge the router will make to cut all the way through the inlay material.

Glue the Pattern 1 Inlay in the Void

After cutting the inlay, use a paint scraper to pry off the template and remove the inlay from the backing material.  The inlay should still be held in place with double sided tape, if not the piece may have shifted during the routing process and you may need to re-cut the inlay.

 

Peel or scrape off any remnants of the double sided tape from the back of the inlay.

 

With the inlay removed, Prefit the Inlay into the void cut in the base material. You may need to do a little sanding to get a good fit. Don’t push the inlay to far into the void while pre-fitting it or else you‘ll have a hard time getting it back out!

 

After the inlay is fit to the void, apply a little glue and press the inlay into the void. Let the glue dry.

After prying the inlay off the backing material the double sided tape may still be attached.  Remove the tape prior to assembly.
Assemble and glue the inlay into it's void.  Press, or tap it into place with a mallet.  Let dry before continuing on.

Cut the Pattern 2 Void

While the glue holding the Pattern 1 inlay dries you can cut the Pattern 2 void.

 

In a prior step you cut the Pattern 1 void into the middle heart base material. Using the exact same techniques you'll now cut a Pattern 2 void in the outer heart base material, Red Heart in this example.

 

Use the alignment marks to position the Pattern 2 void correctly.  Use double sided tape to affix the template in place.  Because you are cutting a void make sure the bushing is on the router inlay kit. Set the cutting depth to be shallower than the thickness of the inlay going into the void

 

After cutting the void remove the template and flatten the bottom of the void if needed.

Using double sided tape affix the template, using the alignment marks, to the inlay material.
Sometime after routing out a void there will be material left in the space.  Use a chisel to remove that material.

Sand Pattern 1 Inlay Flat & Redraw Alignment Marks

After the glue holding the inlay into the void dries you may need to sand it down to the same height as the base material.   The next step requires you to cut out the assembly using the same technique used to cut out the inlay that was just glued into place.  If the inlay extends above the base material it may interfere with the router busing during the cutting process.

 

If you have to sand, there is a chance that the alignment marks will be erased by the sanding process. Prior to sanding make sure you can recreate your alignment marks if needed!  I like to extend the alignment marks to the edge of the inlay/base material so I can easily recreate them if needed.   If you look closely at this picture you can see the alignment mark on the edge of the board.

The inner heart has been inlaid into the middle heart.

Cut the 2nd Inlay

Position Pattern 2 over the Pattern 1 inlay, using the redrawn alignment marks as a reference, and affix into place using double sided tape. Clamp the assembly to the workbench.  Use the same procedure you used to cut the Pattern 1 inlay to cut out the Pattern 2 inlay.

 

Because you’re cutting out an inlay take the bushing off and adjust the depth so the router will cut all the way through the inlay material.

 

After routing the inlay use a paint scraper to remove the inlay from the backing material.

The Pattern 2 shape in the HeartEZ inlay template has been affixed to cut out the middle heart as an inlay.
The middle heart has been cut out as an inlay and is now being pryed off the backing material.

Glue the Pattern 2 Inlay in the Void

Use the same techniques to prefit the Pattern 2 inlay into the void cut in the outer heart base material that was used to assemble the Pattern 1 inlay.

 

You may need to do a little sanding to get a good fit. Don’t push the inlay to far into the void or else you‘ll have a hard time getting it back out!

 

After the inlay is fit to the void, apply a little glue and press the inlay into the void. Let the glue dry.

 

After the glue is dried sand the inlay flat like you did earlier.  Remember the alignment marks may need to be recreated after sanding!

The void has been cut into the base material for the inner heart inlay, also shown, to be assembled.
The middle heart has been glued into the void on the base material.

Cut the Pattern 3 Inlay

This is the third time you've cut an inlay so you should be getting good at it! Using the same procedures as before position the Pattern 3 cutout over the heart and affix into place with double sided tape.

 

Because you’re cutting an inlay remove the bushing from the router inlay kit and set the depth to cut all the way through the inlay material.

 

Remove the template from the inlay material.  Prior to removing the inlay from the backing material, smearing a little glue into the gaps and sand.  The sawdust mixes with the glue making the gaps nearly invisible. This technique is discussed on the Fit and Finish page.

 

After the gaps have been filled remove the inlay from the backing material.  I like to do a final sanding with 220 grit sandpaper followed up with a 320 grit.  I round over the edges using the 320 grit.  After the piece is sanded to your liking apply the finish of your choosing.  Personally I like to apply two coasts of Tung Oil followed up with a brush on polyurethane finish for all of my inlays, but feel free to choose whatever finish works best for you!

Using double sided tape align and affix the Pattern 3 shape over the the inlaid middle heart.
The heart has been cut out as an inlay.  The template is still affixed in this picture.
The heart has been cut out using Pattern 3 of the HeartEZ inlay template.  The gaps have been filled and finish applied.
The heart has been cut out using Pattern 3 of the HeartEZ inlay template.  The gaps have been filled and finish applied.
3 different styles of hearts built with the EZInlays HeartEZ template.  This template is the perfect introductory inlay kit.
A mallet, paint scraper, scissors, chisel, and a pic are all useful tools when building an inlay
Required tools include a plunge router, a brass inlay kit, clamps, and a hand held RO sander.
To build an EZInlays inlay all you need are alignment marks, no measuring is required.
When cutting a void make sure the bushing is on the brass inlay kit to correctly position the router bit.
When cutting a void make sure thedepth of cut doesn't exceed the height of the inlay material or the depth of the base material.
After the void is cut use a paint scraper to gently pry the template off of the inaly material.
You need to clamp the inlay assembly to the workbench so the only thing that moves during the routing process is the router itself.
When cutting an inlay remove the bushing from the brass inlay kit to correctly position the router bit while cutting.
When cutting an inlay set the depth of plunge the router will make to cut all the way through the inlay material.
After prying the inlay off the backing material the double sided tape may still be attached.  Remove the tape prior to assembly.
Assemble and glue the inlay into it's void.  Press, or tap it into place with a mallet.  Let dry before continuing on.
Using double sided tape affix the template, using the alignment marks, to the inlay material.
Sometime after routing out a void there will be material left in the space.  Use a chisel to remove that material.
The inner heart has been inlaid into the middle heart.
The Pattern 2 shape in the HeartEZ inlay template has been affixed to cut out the middle heart as an inlay.
The middle heart has been cut out as an inlay and is now being pryed off the backing material.
The void has been cut into the base material for the inner heart inlay, also shown, to be assembled.
The middle heart has been glued into the void on the base material.
Using double sided tape align and affix the Pattern 3 shape over the the inlaid middle heart.
The heart has been cut out as an inlay.  The template is still affixed in this picture.
The heart has been cut out using Pattern 3 of the HeartEZ inlay template.  The gaps have been filled and finish applied.
The heart has been cut out using Pattern 3 of the HeartEZ inlay template.  The gaps have been filled and finish applied.