Decorative inlays inlay kits

Instructions for Building Any Inlay --- Assembling the Inlay

Fit and Finish

WHAT you're doing:

After the inlay and void has been cut  you'll need to sand the edges of the inlay, glue it into the void, and fill any gaps.

Prefit Inlay to See If Sanding is Needed

WHAT you're doing:

  • Pre-fitting the inlay into the void to see if sanding is needed.

 

WHY you're doing it:

  • To see how well the inlay material fits in the void.

 

HOW to do it:

  • Place the inlay piece on its void.
    • Do not press to far into the void because it can be hard to get out!!!
  • Use a pencil to mark the areas that need to be sanded so the piece fits better.
Prefit the inlay into it's void to check the fit.

Inlays prefit into the voids

Sand the Inlay if Needed

WHAT you're doing:

  • Sanding the edge of the inlay to fit the void.

 

WHY you're doing it:

  • You’re working with wood… of course you have to sand!
  • So the inlay fits snugly into the void.

 

NOTE 1:

Several factors effect the amount of sanding needed.  A quality sharp router bit cuts much better than a dull bit.  The pre-sanded picture shows an inlay cut with a bit that needed to be replaced.

 

Use a high quality brass router inlay kit on your plunge router.  The adage "you get what you pay for" holds true especially with woodworking tools and bits!

 

Properly prepare your inlay materials and make sure nothing but the router moves during the cutting process!

 

NOTE 2:

One type of inlay you can build has the inlay showing through on both sides. The video on this page describes the finishing process for this type of inlay.

 

The pictures on this page depict an inlay that shows through on one side. The sanding for this type of inlay is easier because you can bevel the bottom edge of the inlay piece prior to assembling the inlay.

 

If you bevel the edges on the inlay that shows on both sides you will have huge gaps on one side!

 

HOW to do it:

  • I like to use an RO sander to quickly sand around the edges of the inlay
    • A rotary grinder, i.e. Dremel, will speed up the process for intricate pieces where the RO sander won't fit.
  • Limit the amount of sanding you do.
    • Excessive removal of material will create gaps between  the void and the inlay.
  • Check the fit of the inlay piece to the void often and sand again where needed.
    • Use a pencil to mark the areas that require more sanding.
An edge view of an inlay prior to sanding it to help it fit into it's void.

Inlay prior to sanding

Prefit the inlay piece into it's void after sanding a  bevel on the bottomof the inlay.

Inlay sanded w/ bevel

If a small section of the inlay needs additional sanding mark that area with a pencil. After the pencil mark has been remove recheck the fit.

Area that needs sanding marked

Glue the Inlay in the Void

WHAT you're doing:

  • Applying glue to the inlay material and pressing it into the void.

 

WHY you're doing it:

  • So the inlay material stays in the void.

 

HOW to do it:

  • Smear glue on the bottom and sides of the void and inlay.
    • Don't use excessive amounts of glue.
  • Place the inlay into the void and press into place.
    • I like a soft mallet to tap the inlay in.
    • You can use a vise or clamp and squeeze the inlay into the void.
  • Fitting the inlay to the void is a bit of a balancing act.
    • To small of an inlay piece will leave gaps.
    • To large of an inlay piece could crack the base material if forced into the void.
Smear glue on the inlay and in the void.  Make sure to apply glue to the void wall and the edge of the inlay

Smearing glue on the pieces

Glue the inlay into it's void.  I like to tap the inlay with a soft mallet to seat it completely in the void.

Inlays assembled into the voids

Sanding and Removing Gaps After Assembly

WHAT you're doing:

  • Sanding the inlay piece down to the level of the base material.
  • Filling in any gaps in the inlay.

 

WHY you're doing it:

  • Because the inlay will look stupid if it isn’t flat!!!
  • Gaps between the edge of the inlay and the wall of the void are inevitable for inlay work.
    • The inlay looks better with the gaps filled.

 

HOW to do it:

  • Old school — sandpaper and a ton of elbow grease.
  • New school — a random orbital sander.
    • I like 150 grit sandpaper myself.
  • Newest school — A drum sander is perfect for sanding the inlay down to the base material height.
  • After the work surface is flat, use an air compressor to blow the dust away.
    • This will reveal any gaps between the inlay and the void.
  • Where gaps exist, force a small amount of glue into the gap with your finger tip and lightly sand.
    • The dust created by the sanding process fills in the gap making it invisible.
Notice there is a small gap between the inlaid piece of wood and the material it was placed in.

Gaps that need to be filled

Smear a small amount of glue into the gap.  Use your finger and apply good pressure to force the glue deep into the gap.

Glue smeared into the gap

The sanding process mixes sawdust with the glue making the gap disappear

Gap after sanding

Prefit the inlay into it's void to check the fit.
An edge view of an inlay prior to sanding it to help it fit into it's void.
Prefit the inlay piece into it's void after sanding a  bevel on the bottomof the inlay.
If a small section of the inlay needs additional sanding mark that area with a pencil. After the pencil mark has been remove recheck the fit.
Smear glue on the inlay and in the void.  Make sure to apply glue to the void wall and the edge of the inlay
Glue the inlay into it's void.  I like to tap the inlay with a soft mallet to seat it completely in the void.
Notice there is a small gap between the inlaid piece of wood and the material it was placed in.
Smear a small amount of glue into the gap.  Use your finger and apply good pressure to force the glue deep into the gap.
The sanding process mixes sawdust with the glue making the gap disappear
Prefit the inlay into it's void to check the fit.
An edge view of an inlay prior to sanding it to help it fit into it's void.
Prefit the inlay piece into it's void after sanding a  bevel on the bottomof the inlay.
If a small section of the inlay needs additional sanding mark that area with a pencil. After the pencil mark has been remove recheck the fit.
Smear glue on the inlay and in the void.  Make sure to apply glue to the void wall and the edge of the inlay
Glue the inlay into it's void.  I like to tap the inlay with a soft mallet to seat it completely in the void.
Notice there is a small gap between the inlaid piece of wood and the material it was placed in.
Smear a small amount of glue into the gap.  Use your finger and apply good pressure to force the glue deep into the gap.
The sanding process mixes sawdust with the glue making the gap disappear