LumberJocks

Baby Furniture #6: Inlay question - almost done

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Kevin posted 07-24-2008 06:43 PM 843 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Setbacks/lessons learned/question Part 6 of Baby Furniture series Part 7: New pieces cut for hardware »

Sorry, no pictures on this one. I know that is a “no no” in blogs, but I just need a quick answer and I’ll get some more pics on this week yet.

I have most of the crib finished and hope to complete it this weekend. I have put off what i consider the most challenging part until then end. Not that i am afraid of a challenge, just would hate to mess up this piece.

On the back (longest side opposite of the sliding gate) I have a piece of walnut. It starts out at the legs at 4” high and arches up in the middle to around 9” I think. I would like to inlay our name into this piece. I plan on using sycamore to match the slats.

My question is, how thick should i make the inlay? I plan on using a combination of router and hand tools to cut out the walnut and sycamore. How deep into the walnut should I cut?

Thank you,

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas



7 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2101 posts in 2379 days


#1 posted 07-24-2008 09:34 PM

Just one thought. I can see going either way after having thought about this, but putting a name on it might make it odd to pass down through generations (as in if/when you get to a generation where your name no longer passes down). On the flip side, I guess that could even add to the piece since it could connect a descendent to a piece of thier history. Anyway, I wasn’t saying this to change your mind, but to throw it out there in case you hadn’t considered it.

I wish I could help you with your specific question, but you are more talented than me and I have no experience with the techical aspects of your project. I’ve been following along though and really enjoy it. Keep up the good work and hopefully someone with more experince can chime in.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1990 posts in 3057 days


#2 posted 07-24-2008 09:49 PM

I’ve sort of quit trying to answer questions on LJ, as I have just gotten overwhelmed with emails and can’t keep it up. But, I’ll step up to help a fellow Wildcat and Kansan, ha.

I can see HokieMojo’s point. But, I’d still put your name on it. It’ll never leave the family anyway, and it will always be a reminder of the heritage it came through.

On the bottom of the cradle that my dad and I made together for my sister, we included a list of the names of babies and dates that have used it. Not all of the babies have been “DeCou’s” since I have sisters.

I have done inlayed letters several times, and my preference is to cut out the letters in wood that is about 3/16’” thick. This gives them enough heft to be easy to cut and clean up without breaking.

I draw them on the wood, using a font printed out of my WORD software, and use tracing paper to make the transition from the paper to the wood. I then follow the tracing paper line with a sharp pointed Marker, where I use a straight edge to give straight lines, and a french-curve to do any curves. Since I will be free handing the lettering, it is important to get a “good” line to follow.

I like to inlay them a hair more than 1/8” deep, which gives the letters a chance to stick up proud of the surface a little. I then use another router with a bottom cutting bit, that I use to skim off the letters that stick up, and then follow with an orbital sander. I only use this router for this purpose, and always test it first to make sure that it is still set at just a little above the surface. If I could measure it, it would be about the height of a sheet of printer paper.

To do the routing, I lay out the lettering, and draw with a sharp pencil around each letter, and then free hand cut the lettering with a down-cutting spiral bit, usually 1/8” diameter, and then use a 1/16” bit to clean up the corners. I always “climb cut” the routering against the pencil line, as it is easier to keep it straight. I mounted a small flashlight on my router to give me good LED lighting for doing this task (I blogged about that a long time ago).

To make any of the corners sharp in the routering, I use a small chisel that I made from an old file that looks sort of like a “graver” used in metal engraving, or I use a carving knife, which ever fits easiest into the space.

I don’t like to “just” sand off the protruding letters with an orbital, as I have found that I have a hard time doing the sanding, without either leaving a “bump”, or a “depression”, that doesn’t show up until the finish is on, and the piece is sitting in front of a window. Routering flat the letters makes sanding it all flat much easier to do.

Hope that helps.
If not, you can come up to my shop, and I’ll show you sometime how I do it. Only cost you a set of KSU season football tickets. just kidding?

Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1990 posts in 3057 days


#3 posted 07-24-2008 09:59 PM

I forgot to add, that I try to cut out the lettering, so that the cross grain runs the same direction as the board that I am inlaying them in.

That way any normal movement of the wood throughout the years, should be similar to the letters, and they may last longer without breaking.

I use normal PVA type wood glue on the bottom of the letters.

I don’t usually have any gaps in the router-to-letter fit, but if I do, I either cut a bigger letter, or try to cover up the gap with small sliver of wood, or at the worst, use saw dust and CA glue. If you use the CA glue to fill the gap, there is no way to make it look like wood when the finish is on. It may look great when you sand out the raw wood, but after the finish, it just looks different, and I’ve seen it where the normal wood movement, pushes up the glue around the edge of the letter, making a small bump. The devil is in the details, but it matters when you are finished with it, and how long it will last.

I try really hard not to have gaps, and that makes it look a lot better. Another method I have seen done, is to leave an equal gap all the way around the lettering, and then when you fill it with sawdust and CA glue, you have what looks like a little border around the letter.

Practice first, make a sign for your shop wall, or other practice panels. You’ll still be scared. Just remember, you can always cut out a bigger letter if you need to cover a gap caused by a router slip. I keep my hands down on the base board, as an anchor, and only move the router with my finger pressure. You’ll get the hang of it.

I think it is actually easier to carve out letters “proud” of the wood, rather than to inlay them into the wood. I’ve done that several times on my furniture pieces, where I start with a thicker board, and route out everything except the letters. I think I’ve blogged about that process before. When I carve the letters proud of the surface board, I don’t have any gaps to worry about, or cracks in my inlayed letters.

hope it works out,
M

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

293 posts in 2609 days


#4 posted 07-25-2008 05:02 PM

HokieMojo, My wife and I did think of that very issue. We talked about it and went back and forth a number of times, Finally, we decided that we would put our name on it for a couple reasons. One, I’d love to have a crib that my grandpa made no matter what name was on it. Two, the babies won’t be able to tell that it is not their name anyways.

Mark, WOW you have been very helpful. I knew bleeding purple (KSU thing for those that don’t know) would come in handy at some point. My wife and I are lpanning on engraving the names of the babies and birth dates on the back of the back piece. We thought that would be pretty neat as well.

I don’t think I’ll try the method of leaving a small gap all the way around the letters, that sounds like more work than I care to do at the moment. Good point about always can cut a bigger letter over it. That makes it a a little less intimidating – I can fix it if I have to.

I bet you’re right, carving the letters out would have been easier. Wouldn’t have given the contrasting color look though. I’ll have to remember that next time.

Practice? I bet I end up with a few signs for the shop.

Thank you for the advice on inlaying. Getting the right depth will certainly help me out, as well as your technique advice. I didn’t think about using the router to flush the letters, I had just thought of using the planer, but was worried about tearing. I bet your router method would tear the letters as bad.

If it costs me a set of season tickets to come to your shop, I wonder what it would cost to get you down to mine. Box seats maybe. HaHa. I have season tickets, but my wife is supposed to have the baby the first part of September. I hope she doesn’t have it on a Saturday. I sure would hate to be at the game worrying about her the whole time. Haha

I will be sure to post some progress shots for everyone to look or laugh at.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

293 posts in 2609 days


#5 posted 07-25-2008 05:13 PM

What is the reason for using PVA glue to glue the letters in and then switching to CA glue to mix with the sawdust?

I’ve been using Titebond II to glue most of my joints together. Is this the best to use?
I also tried filling some small gaps with Titebond II mixed with sawdust. What kind of glue would be better in this application? Any particular glue you suggest?

I guess I have never really known which type of glue works best in which situation.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2101 posts in 2379 days


#6 posted 07-27-2008 05:05 AM

I figured you would go with the name regardless of what I said. I was just thinking out loud. Actually, after thinking about it since I posted, I’m about 99% sure I’d do the same thing… If I thought I were capable that is. Keep up the good work and I’ll look forward to some more blog entries as you make more progress. I’ve really enjoyed following along.

View Kevin's profile

Kevin

293 posts in 2609 days


#7 posted 07-28-2008 05:33 AM

I am glad someone is enjoying it. That is what makes it worth posting.

Trust me, doing this has nothing to do with skill. I have never inlaid anything yet.

Check out the next blog for the pics and details.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase