I was very intruiged by Steve Latta’s DVD for Lie-Nielsen “Fundamentals of Inlay: Stringing, Line & Berry” and the associated line of inlay tools that they offer along with it. I learned (by way of the Villiage Carpenter) that Steve has been touching a longer course on inlay for quite some time, and used to advocate the manufacture of your own tools, in the style that Lie-Nielsen is now offering. When looking at those offerings, I did think that several of them could be made at home quite easily, and the $300 savings applied to something I can’t make as easily, like a high angle 4 1/2. I did buy the radius cutter and straight line cutter replacement blades from L-N, because I didn’t want to spend time trimming the appropriate sized steel sheet stock, and learning to file saw teeth.
Somehow I managed to lose the first few photos of my progress on the first tools, so I apologize in advance. I decided to start with what appears to be the most difficult of the 4 tools, the Radius Cutter. At it’s heart, this consists of 2 parallel guide bars, a cutter, and pinion, and a set screw to keep the bars from sliding.
Since I’ve lost my original photos, I’ll have to improvise and describe my process. I bought some 1/4” brass rod stock from my favorite metals supplier, Speedy Metals. (I’m also a bit of an amateur metalworker, but that is another blog post entirely!)
I also used some scrap cherry, and drilled two long 1/4” holes through it. I then cut about an inch off the end for the ‘head’ of the inlay tool, and glued the two rods into the head with Epoxy. I didn’t properly plan how the epoxy was going to get out of the hole, and while pushing the rods in, perhaps a little too aggressively, I managed to split the head. However, the 5 minute epoxy leaked through the small split, and dried quickly enough to keep the head a solid. Sort of a self-fixing mistake.
On the other half of the body, I brought a burr up on the end of some brass rod stock, and used it like a scraper to help widen the holes enough to make the passage of the body over the brass rod nice and smooth, then installed a 1/4-20 threaded insert, and trimmed a brass 1/4-20 knurled knob down to appropriate length to act as the stop mechanism. Here’s the main body.
The other portion of the tool is the actual pivot point that the radius cutter registers the body on. I was thinking about doing another inset nut and grind or file a screw head, but I realized this doesn’t really need to be adjustable. I don’t see myself doing any inlay on a very curved surface. I decided to just grind a nice point on a piece of brass stock, then trim it off and simply epoxy it in place. Ive made so many mistakes at this point I’ll probably do a less error-prone version of this tool eventually, so why not.
That should do it for today!
As always, you can follow the most current progress on my blog!