As a result of Lorna’s posting of her bow box, several requests were made regarding how to make inlay banding. We are not experts by any measure but here is our joint tutorial on making “wolf’s tooth” banding. We watched many videos and did lots of practice pieces before getting even remotely adequate at it. So… here goes!
PREPARE THE WOOD:
In this example, we used 3 woods: maple, walnut and mahogany. We prepared the wood in the usual way by making sure it was flat and square. We used 4” x 20” strips of wood.
We then used the bandsaw to make 4” x 1/8” strong (for sanding later) strips. Make 3 walnut (2 for outer sandwich and 1 for center of wolf’s tooth), 3 maple (ditto), and 1 mahogany. Set 2 maple and 2 walnut aside after drum sanding them all smooth. The “sandwich” pieces (2 maple and 2 walnut) were sanded to approximately 1/16”. The other pieces were left at close to 1/8” in thickness. You can cut these to any thickness you prefer. That’s what determines the final size of the banding.
STARTING THE FIRST GLUE-UP:
Take 1 slice each of 1/8” maple, mahogany and walnut and make a sandwich with the walnut in the middle. Glue them up. Make sure that you have plenty of even pressure on this sandwich (getting hungry yet with all this talk of sandwiches???) using cauls and clamps along the entire length. It is important to give the glue 24 hrs to set up as there is no air getting to the middle of the sandwich.
Now you have something that looks like this (sorry it is a little blurry but you get the idea):
Square up the sides. We used the table saw.
MAKING THE TRIANGLES:
Now comes the “fun” part. Set your bandsaw table to 45 degrees. It is important to have made a 45 degree sled such as the one here.
Now take your “sandwich” and set it on the sled and make a cut. This is to clean up the end and edge for a triangular wedge that gives you an equilateral triangle. It is important that the triangles be as identical as possible because they have to fit together as tightly as possible. Once you have the first triangle cut, use a 45 degree stop against the fence to be sure that the triangles are the same size. Don’t cut off the tip. Make sure the point is sharp!
You will end up with a pile that looks like this.
Now separate them into 2 piles. One pile has all the mahogany on the bottom with maple tips and the other pile has maple on the bottom and mahogany tips. Theoretically, many tutorials that we watched/read, said to throw one pile away but why do that when you can actually make 2 different designs. It is important to ONLY USE ONE SET IN EACH GLUE UP! (Trust us… we learned the hard way ;-)
Take one of the 1/16” walnut and one of maple and glue them together. This is important… the color of the wood on the point of the triangle should be the outer layer. For example, if you are using the mahogany bottom and maple tip, make sure the 1/16” maple is the outer layer and the walnut is against the triangle bottom and tip. Do the opposite for your second set of triangles – the ones with the maple bottom and mahogany tip. This way you will have the contrast you need to make the wolf’s tooth stand out.
Once these sandwiches are dry, cut them both in half. This allows you to flip one half for the proper contrast. It also allows you to make 2 different configurations of wolf’s teeth and use all your triangles!
Now set out your same configuration triangles and see how they fit together. Take any burrs or fuzz off the tips and sides. You put 1/2 of the pile on the bottom and one half on the top.
Now we start the final glue up. From our experience a slower setting glue is helpful at this glue-up. You really need the time to get everything in place before the glue starts to set up.
Now take 2 of the 1/16” sandwiches (now 1/8”) and put a generous amount of glue on the correct side of 1 of the sandwiches.
Now begin to place your bottom row of triangles onto this glue surface. You don’t have to be too careful about exact placement as the slow setting glue will allow you to make everything tight at the end of the glue up.
Once the bottom row is done, then put a generous amount of glue onto the top of the bottom row to prepare for placing the top row onto the bottom row of triangles.
Now place your top row. Once you have the triangles in place, put the top sandwich on. Again, don’t be too fussy about how tight the triangles are to each other. We tighten them up once we place the second sandwich on top and have the ability to put pressure on the top, bottom and edges.
We are now coming down the home stretch as far as glue is concerned! Now is the time to put the entire unit between full size cauls (we used MDF covered with a layer of non-stick packing tape). It is also time to make sure that the triangles are tight to one another. Pressure from the top, sides and end (using a couple of 45 degree wedges to get them into place) will bring the whole enchilada together! It looks like a mess right now with all the squeeze out. Just take your time and get some of the squeeze out off. Leave most of it as it will be cut off after everything is dry. Don’t skimp on glue! These babies need to be held together well.
Now wait 24 hrs until everything is dry. Now comes the fun part… cutting the banding! This is what we’ve been waiting for!
Clean up the edges on the table saw and sand the top and bottom to get all the excess glue off.
Take your beauty to the bandsaw. Set your thin rip guide to make the first cut. This does not have to be perfect as you are just squaring everything up. Also, check the ends and make sure that you will be able to fit pieces together end to end to join them for length. This means that one end needs a point on the bottom and the other end needs a point on the top. You may lose one triangle to get this to work but cutting now is preferable to trying to cut each strip of banding. Then begin your cuts. We made our banding ~3/32” thick so we could do some sanding after the strips were cut.
So now you should have something that looks like this. You can make a band from here to your table saw by simply joining the pieces together.
We hope this has been helpful. Sometimes trying to write this stuff down is like trying to write down how to tie a shoe!!!
Ellen & Lorna
-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire