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After your inlay is fully assembled there will be a few gaps that need to be filled in. Don't worry about this because almost all router based inlays have a small gap or two in them. To hide the gaps all we do is smear a little wood glue into the gaps and the sand over them with an RO sander. The sawdust, created by the sanding process, will mix in with the glue blurring the gaps.
After the sanding is complete you'll want to apply some sort of finish to your project. We recommend using Tung Oil and a wipe on polyurethane with UV protection to finish our inlay pieces. The UV protection will help your inlay materials keep their original color over time.
The first thing you should do is sand the entire inlay project to ensure it's completely flat. After this initial sanding blow the dust off your inlay. If you have an air compressor use it to blow away the dust. This process will reveal any gaps you want to fix.
To fix the gaps smear a small amount of wood glue into them. Just use the tip of your finger to force the glue into the cracks. Take a rag and wipe away the excess glue.
Before the glue dries, take an RO sander and run it over the areas where the glue was applied. The sawdust, created by the sanding process, will mix with the glue blurring the lines between the different pieces of wood.
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When it comes to applying finish to your woodworking project everybody has their own preferences, including me! Personally I'm a big fan of Tung Oil and then a wipe on polyurethane finish with UV protection.
The UV protection in the polyurethane helps keep the exotic woods from changing color over time. All woods tend to brown a bit as they age. Some of the worst are Padauk and Purple Heart. While the UV protection doesn't completely stop the browning it does help.
To finish my projects I like to hand rub in a coat of Tung Oil. After it dries, 8 hours or so depending on your climate, I hand rub it using a nylon pad (yes the same kind of pad you clean your dishes with) and then a soft cotton cloth. Then I hand rub in another coat of Tung Oil. After this coat dries I repeat the buffing process and use 600 grit sandpaper to remove any burrs that may be felt. Then I'll hand rub in a third coat of tung oil. After this coat dries I just buff it with a cotton cloth.
I let the Tung Oil dry for at least 48 hours before I apply the polyurethane. Personally I'm a big fan of General Finishes' line of poly top coats. It's hard to find their products in the big box stores but most wood working stores carry their products. My preference is to apply three coats of poly finish. I'll apply a coat, wait four to six hours and then apply the next coat. Wait one more time and apply the final coat. After that your project should be well protected for years.