This past weekend my father-in-law and I had the pleasure of attending a two day class taught by Garrett Hack at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking in Berea, Kentucky. It was an incredibly interesting and helpful class on how apply decorative inlay to furniture. Three methods were taught – beading, stringing and inlaying. We also learned how to make bandings. Garrett is an extremely interesting individual and and excellent teacher. He takes a very hands on approach with his students and takes time to personally instruct you on any questions you may have. As for his craftsmanship, well, if you read Fine Woodworking, you know what type of craftsman he is. Nothing short of a master.
The first day started by instructing us on how to make our own scratch stock for shaping board edges with beading. I had read articles on making scratch stock and thought it was just too much of a hassle to deal with but Garrett showed us just how simple it really is. We learned to score and old hand saw blade and break off small rectangles of the blade. Then we used regular mill files to square up the piece or the blade (about 1 inch square) and then use a round chain saw file to file the profile of the bead into the scratch stock. Then we used water stones or diamond stones to flatten both sides of the cutting area of the stock much like lapping the back of a plane iron or chisel. We then polished both sides and then polished the edge of the scratch stock thus making a sharp cutting tool to form the bead. We then made wooden holders for the scratch stock so it could be precisely positioned such that the bead would be cut precisely on the edge of the board. I was amazed that if you spent a little time working the scratch stock and learned how to use light pressure to cut the beading, you could end up with a finished edge as good, or better, than any router. Making the scratch stock was actually very simple.
We then moved on to learning how to cut grooves for applying stringing. We again broke off pieces of the old saw blade, use the file to form a cutting edge polished front and back and the edge and learned how to scratch the very small groove to insert the stringing. Garrett taught us how to cut thin strips of the stringing from thin strips of pre-cut stock and then how to plane down those 1/4” strips to form a taper that matched the taper the scratch stock cut into the board. We learned how to apply the glue, insert the stringing, plane it down to a low profile and then burnish in the stringing so it could then be planed flat. We also learned how to cut miters on the stringing for corners.
On the second day we learned how to make compasses for cutting curves for stringing as well. That about wrapped up the efforts on stringing and it was a lot of fun. After the stringing, Garrett demonstated how to inlay shapes into boards. Diamonds, triangles, squares, fans, you name it. He taught us the basics and we practiced inlaying under his mentorship. After the inlaying demonstration, Garrett then showed us how to create bandings. That was really amazing. He also had several samples of bandings that he shows his clients so we got several ideas on how to create our own bandings. This is pretty tedious so we didn’t practice this but the way he demonstrated it, I think I could chip away at this and get pretty decent at it. Lastly, Garrett showed us how to properly sharpen and burnish card scrapers. He is not a big fan of scrapers as he prefers planing.
Overall it was a great weekend. Garrett is a great teacher and an even better person. Also during the weekend, Kelly stopped in and helped us out as well. Kelly is a super nice guy and a skilled craftsman in his own right. His school is tucked away in the country side of Berea, Kentucky. Check out both these guys on line. You won’t regret taking a class from either of these guys.