|Review by RogerBean||posted 08-23-2010 11:01 PM||4005 views||1 time favorited||8 comments|
I’ve had the recent opportunity to spend some serious time with Steve Latta’s three DVD set produced by Lie Nielsen. Many of us are inspired by the great inlay work of traditional furniture, but find it intimidating to begin cutting little grooves and the like into our newly created masterpiece. So we often pull up short, and fail to finish the piece with the inlays it calls for. Or, we can try the trial and error method at our peril. Neither is necessary any longer. These videos show you, in detail, how to do it yourself.
If you are seriously interested in learning to inlay like a professional, I would strongly recommend these DVD’s. Steve Latta is an experienced and highly skilled instructor, easy to follow, and explains each topic clearly. He covers the tools, both purchased and shop-made, as well as the various jigs and fixtures that make perfect inlay possible. He covers the materials used, and alternative ways to prepare materials for inlay using both veneer and preparing from lumber. And, of course, the actual process of inlaying the material. He shows how to set up your table saw for slicing very thin inlays and working with the small pieces that comprise banding and inlay.
Steve’s focus is on Federal period furniture inlays, and he uses table legs and a spice chest to demonstrate many of his techniques. The video is first rate, professionally produced, and a very worthwhile purchase if you plan to do this kind of work on your projects.
“Fundamentals of Inlay: Federal Table Leg” focuses on the table leg which includes several different techniques in one DVD. At 191 minutes, this is not a quick overview, but a thorough discussion of how-to.
“Fundamentals of Inlay: Making Ornamental Bandings” clearly demonstrates the methods, tools, and materials involved in making your own decorative bandings. Steve shows how to lay up the “plank” from which the actual bandings are sawn (and resawn) to make up the complex and beautiful bandings used to decorate furniture, boxes, and whatever. At 91 minutes you get your money’s worth in hands-on tutorial.
He clearly demonstrates how all these little pieces come together to create banding for inlay. The process is made easier with the tools and fixtures such as which saw blades to use, and how to make up an effective but simple banding press.
“Fundamentals of Inlay: Stringing Line and Berry” discusses in detail how to inlay stringing, using a spice chest as the focus. Inlaying straight, and curved stringing, and even inlaying serifed letters with precision. Another treasure chest of information at 155 minutes.
Lie Nielsen now produces the key inlay tools of Steve’s design should you choose to purchase these rather than build your own. Personally, I plan to buy the entire set, which are very nice to look at, and better made than the ones I have been using. But, if you enjoy making tools, they should not be beyond the reach of many woodworkers to make. Steve pretty much tells you how, and discusses sharpening them so they work properly.
The videos clearly demonstrate how they’re used. It’s not absolutely necessary to buy all three DVDs, as each is treated as a somewhat separate topic, but the do complement each other and I think anyone interested in inlay will want all three.
My personal interest has lately been more toward box-making than furniture, though I do dabble in period furniture as well. And, I have been doing limited inlay work on Kentucky rifles and boxes for some years. I have no problem saying that I learned more than enough to find the time well spent. Steve’s tools and new methods have stimulated a number of new designs and ideas for how I can use inlay in my projects.
It’s hard to say too many good things about Steve and his instruction methods. Small scale work and detail decorative work is very much a matter of procedural details, usually learned by experience, that make perfect work possible. There is little room for clumsy methods. Having an expert show you how saves an enormous amount of time …and frustration. And, it will immediately show in your work.
-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)