How To Inlay Wood With A Router?

How To Inlay Wood With A Router

Router inlay is a fantastic way to embellish your work, giving your projects the jump from being ordinary to becoming posh. It has its limitations but is done entirely with a router, and the results from is will surprise you.

The First Look can be Intimidating

When you first heard about or looked at inlayed pieces it can be intimidating and look monumental, but you only need a few things and the skill to go with it that you can hone with time.

The things you need are as follows:

  • A Router (Plunge Routers are recommended)
  • Scrap Sheet Material (MDF)
  • A Router Inlay Kit
  • A Router Template
  • Your Surface that you’ll work on
  • Inlay Stocks
  • Double-sided tape

Getting Into The Actual Process

Firstly some anatomy lessons the part that you’ll place into the cavity or cavities is called the positive for our case it’ll be the Inlay Stocks. And similarly, the part that you’ll “rout out” to fill in is called the negative.

Install the Router Inlay Kit as per instructions as each kit has its own parameters and instructions.

Place the Scrap Sheet Material and the template and the Stock Inlay in order, then adjust the depth stop for your router placing the bushing and plunging it until the bit barely touches the scrap material. And locking the depth stop in place will ensure precise cutting

Place the tapes on the material that you are making your positive out of and adhere it to the MDF board, afterward place and secure the template for the inlay in place with tape. And prepare to rout out the pieces.

Put your router on top of the template and keep an eye so that the bushing is in contact with the edge of the template at all times. Follow the router template in a clockwise motion. You should be cutting the positive first so that you can make adjustments if needed.

After finishing the positive you should mark which way it should be oriented and placed into the negative.

Moving on to the negative, the positive should be a bit higher than the negative or the work surface after gluing it up preferably 1/64th on an inch. This is will make things much easier than if you would’ve messed up and made a short inlay instead.

Again secure all of your materials in place with tape like before, and place the router onto the template and push down on it again making sure that the bushing is in contact. Follow the template and carve out the negative. Alternating with a chisel and the current set up for a somewhat smooth cutout.

Clear out all of the tapes and is to assemble the two pieces together. At this point, the two pieces most likely don’t fit that’s what you want, using a sand block or sandpaper will refine the edges and help the pieces slide into place snug.

Keep on making adjustments making sure not to the sand of too much wood that may cause too much of a gap between the pieces.

The Glue Up

Apply wood glue generously to both pieces making sure the positive is oriented correctly according to the mark you put on it. After inserting the positive place a piece of wax paper on top of it followed by a plank.

Now you should clamp up and wait for the glue to cure, make sure the clamp is making even contact and distributing even pressure onto the pieces.

After this, the only this left is leveling and sanding the whole thing use whatever you are comfortable using but a sand block works fine for smaller projects. Then finally you are done.

Final Thoughts

Things can get out of hand if you don’t know what you are doing but following instructions and safety procedures you can pull it off much like other works of art. Hope your project turns out great and wows your friends and family alike.

Good Luck.

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