Inlay borders, The making of...

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Blog entry by Gotwood1962 posted 03-07-2010 09:40 AM 3702 reads 35 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

You asked and i’m going to try to explain how I make my inlay strips.
After many trial and error attempts I found it easier if you make a glue up jig shown here.
I used prefinished plywood and made a 1” caul to aid in even clamp pressure when glueing.

Next step would be to choose the types of woods to be used . I typically use a maple/ walnut mix for my diamond center as to get a good contrast of colors. I use a plywood base to act as a zero clearance throat and cut the strips 1/8” to 3/16”. An even/odd number of each wood will be needed which wood and how many makes no difference. If you have 6 walnut strips you will need 5 or 7 maple,you will see why later.

After completing the strips its time for glueup. Begin by waxing the glueup jig and caul.

Any good paste wax will work. Let wax dry and buff off wax.

Now start the glueup. Begin with either the dark or light wood, doesn’t matter which and alternate each layer with the opposite color. Note: if you start with a dark wood you will need to finish with the light colored wood, thus the odd/even numbers of strips mentioned above. You will see why later. I actually have dark wood on both the outside edges in the pictures. I cut one off later.


Use the caul and clamp the lamination evenly along the glueup. I usually let the glue dry overnite as the glue under the strips takes a while to dry. Unclamp and pry the strip from the jig.


Finished layup.

Join or sand one face of glueup flat and square to one edge, not really too critical. This just gives a flat surface to saw from.


Next step is to start cutting the diamond glueup strips. I made a tablesaw sled that works great



There is a small finish nail used for a stop on the strips. The trick here is to cut the slices exactly so if you reverse the strip and hold it against another in reverse each layer lines up perfectly, this assures an actual diamond. It takes a little trial and error.



Finished strips and more glueing. Using the glue jig again arrange your strips for glueing. This just speeds things up. I start with 6 or 8 strips and clamp for about 20 min then add 6-8 at a time until to the length I want. This incremental glueup makes it easier to handle the strips as they will want to start sliding and moving on you.



Finished glueup


Back to the jointer to flatten one face and even edges. the edges will be stepped and will require flattening to the exact edge of the adjoining layer. this will assure a perfect diamond.



Closeup of straight edge


Ok, Almost done with the hard part. Decide wheter you want dark or light diamonds or both. Cut strips from your newly made lamination to your desired design. I use a bandsaw because there isn’t as much waste and probably is a bit safer. Cut the strips to exactly touch the adjoining color as in working the edge.




The finished center diamond strip

Ok class almost done. Choose your outer layers to complement the center strip.


Back to the glue jig and laminate the final glueup.



All that’s left is to flatten the bottom of inlay strip, rotate 90 degrees and slice your finished product. I usually cut mine between a 32nd and a 16th.
Hope this helped and added a little clarification to the construction and steps required to make the inlay strips. I don’t believe there is a right way or wrong way to do this, just do what works for you. I like experimenting and coming up with unique patterns. Have fun!

-- Gotwood1962, If sawdust were valuable... I'd be a millionaire

12 comments so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4078 days

#1 posted 03-07-2010 09:59 AM

Thank you! Similar to the process I have used but some things I see will make stuff easier!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 03-07-2010 12:59 PM

I haven’t gotten to do any inlay yet…..
but I’m saving this for when I do : )
Good job on the tutorial, easy to follow.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Cher's profile


954 posts in 3094 days

#3 posted 03-07-2010 02:52 PM

Thank you for your tutorial and photos. Now I know how to.

-- When you know better you do better.



56 posts in 3108 days

#4 posted 03-07-2010 02:53 PM

You make it seem pretty simple (I realize it’s not) so I’ve got to try it. Great job, thanks. JIM

-- A day without sawdust is like a day without sunshine

View patron's profile


13604 posts in 3341 days

#5 posted 03-07-2010 04:26 PM

thank you ! i had seen this years ago ,
in a magazine , but forgot the details .
this is saved for sure .

i hope to do you proud ,
when i do this .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3786 days

#6 posted 03-07-2010 04:28 PM

Thank you for taking the time to show this process.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View lew's profile


12062 posts in 3756 days

#7 posted 03-07-2010 04:35 PM

Cool!! Thanks!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4401 days

#8 posted 03-07-2010 05:04 PM

A great set of tutorial photos. Thanks. I picked up a booklet a few years ago on making inlays, and I even talked to the author, but never got around to making any.

I’ve also collected pictures of maybe a couple of hundred of styles..

I’ve got them in a zip file if anyone wants a copy. Send me an email.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4086 days

#9 posted 03-07-2010 05:12 PM

Great tutorial. Thanks so much!


View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3289 days

#10 posted 03-07-2010 05:13 PM

hey thanks for the info i made some but not as much i didn’t have enough wood to do it but they came out good!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View tommyd's profile


77 posts in 3132 days

#11 posted 03-10-2010 07:11 PM

great tutorial, good info just one ? what angle do you cut the pieces.

-- Life is too short for negative drama & petty things. So laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly!

View Gotwood1962's profile


30 posts in 3019 days

#12 posted 03-12-2010 04:16 AM

The angle doesn’t really matter. It depends on the size of the diamond you want. the sharper angle the smaller the width of the diamond. Actually i’ve played around and some of my diamonds aren’t equilateral, cool look.

-- Gotwood1962, If sawdust were valuable... I'd be a millionaire

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