Making Inlay Banding

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Blog entry by TheCaver posted 03-29-2009 01:34 AM 12666 reads 19 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a quick demo on how to make your own banding. Inlay, marquetry, carving, and other forms of embellishment can really elevate a piece if done tastefully. Indeed, its essential if you are replicating a period piece like I am. Moreover, adding another skill to your toolbox opens up additional forms of creativity, so what’s not to like, let’s create some banding.

My federal table will need some square banding (or checkered), but I will keep it simple for this demo. Once you create banding and see how easy it is, you’ll want to experiment….cutting at angles and recutting logs….we’ll get to that in due time.

First, make a log. I wanted tall rectangles for this piece so I resawed and milled some walnut and ash (I was out of maple and had no holly) to about a foot long, 5 or so wide and just under 1/8” thickness. Remember, with pieces this small, use a melamine or mdf sled in the planer…And do not thickness plane figured wood this thin using a planer!! It WILL explode in the planer, trust me.

Ok, examine your pieces, cut off any sniped ends or whatever and laminate them up to make your log. Remember to NOT start and end the lamination with the same color! :)

You should have below, well, hopefully a bit longer, as I didnt take this pic until after I was done cutting …. stupid….


Ok, Now get a crosscut sled or make a small boat with a cleat (you can get a great video of all this at Tommy MacDonald’s site!!, its where I learned it all from). Install a thin kerf blade or better, a 7.5” hollow ground plywood/laminate blade…this blade leaves a SUPER clean cut.

Tack pieces of 1/4” scrap to the bottom and fence of your sled to function as a zero clearance insert (THIS IS VITAL) You MUST have clean pieces for the next step.

Get a stop block the same height as your log and park it against the fence. Slice off a thin section with the blade to get a perfect mate. Now, move the stop block over however tall you want your banding (MINUS the veneer layers you will put on later). I used about .15 or so I think. But the log up against the stop and put a piece of 2×4 or something on the log to hold it down. Raise the blade to about 1/8 above the log so that it nicks the holder…See pics….

End sliced off stop block and clamped .15 away from kerf.

Cutting the slices from the log

Great, we’re real close now! You should now have the following:

Ok, now if you are like me and screwed up your sled so the cuts are .5 degrees off, you can flip every other piece and all will be well…..just make sure when pushed together, you don’t have a fan shape :)

Now, sorry, but I didnt take pics of the next part, but its pretty simple. Get some veneer, cut it to rough shape (I used dark then light pieces on each side, 4 total pieces).

Use blue tape to tape the stripes together tightly. I put the first piece on, then took the next and made a little tent shape with them and pushed down. This had the effect of making them pair up real tight….I did this for all of them, flipped it over and spread glue all over the back, slapped on my dark veneer and clamped it between 2 pieces of melamine. After an hour or so, I removed, pulled the tape off carefully, and glued on the other piece of dark veneer….Clamp and wait an hour….remove and now glue both sides and put your light veneer on both sides….clamp, wait a couple hours and remove…...Let dry for a least 2 hours, preferrably more….

Now joint one edge of your lamination and you are ready to slice them off! See below:

I learned how to make this contraption from Tommy from one of his videos….Or see his forum in the Federal section….this jig is slick as a whistle….The upper fence is aligned with the near side of the blade and the rear fence determines how thick the banding is. It works like a jointer….The angle peels the cut piece away from the blade….

And, the finished banding came out at .256”....perfect!

If you need questions answered…let me know….and if you use this, thank Tommy….him and the instructors from the North Bennet Street School deserve all the credit for this…..


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

7 comments so far

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3734 days

#1 posted 03-29-2009 02:06 AM

Nice work… The sample is beautiful. I think the ash looks better than the holly.
I have never made banding with the table saw. Do you find it wastes a lot of material?


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 3803 days

#2 posted 03-29-2009 02:45 AM

That’s where the hollow ground blade comes in Tom. The kerf on it is very small, smaller than a TK table saw blade….Out of a 4 inch log, I can get 25-30 strips with that blade, waaaay more than even several projects require. The jig is the key, you can safely cut the log down to maybe 1/2 inch…..beyond that, its a bit hairy!

I used to do this on the bandsaw, then joint the edge….that was crap because you have a bumpy side due to the jointer, not to mention the thickness it eats. With this method, you can just keep cutting without jointing, plus, you can get REAL thin, smooth strips….thinner than 1/28th veneer if desired….So, in short, the waste is very minimal….

As soon as I have a piece inlaid with some finish on it, I’ll post a pic. You should definitely give it a shot….I also used this to cut crossbanding for my drawer front… has a ton of designs that are mind blowing….


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4102 days

#3 posted 03-29-2009 04:52 AM

JC -

That is a really sweet banding! Congratulations.



View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18244 posts in 3639 days

#4 posted 03-29-2009 05:24 AM

Thanks for this post. I will save me a lot of grief :=))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View jimp's profile


208 posts in 3724 days

#5 posted 03-29-2009 08:31 AM

thanks for the tip about the 7.5” saw blade. Also what video does Tommy talk about the banding? I can’t seem to find it on this website.

Thanks and I can’t wait to see the finish product!

-- - Jim, Carroll, OH

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 3803 days

#6 posted 03-29-2009 04:14 PM

Here is a link to the banding videos….
Videos 97 and 98

But I tell you something, EVERY single video on Tommy’s site has something in it that you will use over and over again….And no I’m not affiliated with Tom or his site in any way, well, except I lived in Boston for awhile! Like he says, its just honest woodworking….And its as close as most of us will ever get to a North Bennet Street education :)


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View RBWoodworker's profile


441 posts in 3315 days

#7 posted 03-29-2009 06:38 PM

Im new here on Lumberjock, but I think I stumbled onto a goldmine of great people and knowledge!! Whoo Hoo!! so glad I found this site.. Keep the great info coming guys!! I love it!!

-- Randall Child

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