|Review by RogerBean||posted 08-14-2011 03:42 PM||4213 views||8 times favorited||19 comments|
First thing I noticed when I opened the box, was that this is a quality tool. Machined and anodized aluminum, with the A2 corner chisel itself cleverly held in place with several small magnets.
I first had the opportunity to use the prototype for this jig at Andrew’s workshop in Shropshire, England. I was there to learn, and when we got to the topic of inlay, Andrew produced a small flute case with a routed inlay groove pre-cut to use as a demo. He produced the prototype jig and said “Here, give this a go.” He dropped the jig into the corner (which retained a rounded corner from the spiral cutter he used) gave it a solid rap with a very old hammer, and voila, much to my delight, a perfect square corner, ready for the inlay band!
He proceeded to explain that he was working with the Veritas folks to make the jig available commercially. Well, after more than a year, it’s finally here. And, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. I’ll try to give you a verbal and visual idea of just what it does and how it works.
The first picture shows the jig itself. It has a quality feel to the hand that’s not at all obvious in the picture.
Here I have the lid panel for a document box I’m making for my wife (to hold papers she keeps next to her laptop). The panel is of 1/8” Baltic birch ply, veneered with a four-way match of English pippy yew. This inlay will be on the underside of the lid.
I’m going to cut the groove for the inlay band on my router table. The cut will be made with the panel upside down, using simple marks on the MDF fence attachment. I could use the Incra stops on my Incra LS fence, but I want to show that this MDF fence method is simple, easy,- and works on any router table.
The important thing here is placing the pencil marks on the fence for the stop points. These need to be very accurate, but once marked, one simply lowers the panel onto the cutter somewhere in the middle, then moves the workpiece up to each mark, then lifts it off. In this example, the cutter is set at about .025, or just enough to cut through the veneer layer.
NOTE: I laid up this banding to fit the groove cut by a standard 3/8” Whiteside router bit (spiral downcut is preferable, but I didn’t have one handy, so here I’m using a straight bit). This particular banding I’m going to use here is of figured Asian satinwood, sandwiched between veneer layers of black/maple/black.
I’m not going to go into the process of making banding, but many varieties can be purchased in pre-made form, or you can acquire Andrew’s books which also describe the process. Steve Latta has a DVD on making banding available from Lie-Nielson which is very helpful and well done. When you make your own, however, you get exactly what your want; the combination you feel works best for your particular project. Takes a little time, but it’s not difficult.
With the groove in place, I have one more chore before I am ready to place the banding inlay.
In the following corner close-up it’s easy to see the rounded corner remaining after the cut of the router bit. This, of course, needs to be removed. A perfect corner is key to a perfect inlay. The little white lines must line up perfectly, or the error is very obvious.
The rest is pretty simple with the aid of the jig. The jig is simply placed in the corner, letting the registration ridges on the bottom drop into the groove. The jig is run snugly into the corner, and given a good rap with a small hammer.
Here’s a close up of the resulting clean and perfectly square corner.
Now the banding is fitted into the clean groove and glued up. The finished product is shown below after being scraped and lightly sanded level with the veneer. A perfect corner!
A closer view. There’s no magic here. Perfect inlays only require a little knowledge, a little patience, and the right tools.
Of course, this inlay can be done without the jig. But unless you’re pretty sure of yourself, it’s really easy to overcut, undercut, or slip with the chisel or scalpel when removing the corner. It’s easy to do. (I speak from experience here.) Andrew’s jig makes the process nearly foolproof. A novice can easily finalize the corners of his inlays without a lot of practice. In this case all four corners were removed in about 20 seconds.
As a final note I should mention that there are many more uses for the jig than the inlay I demonstrated above. It can be used to clean up grooves as small as 1/16th inch on up. It also works for cleaning up the corners of the small inlaid lines I use around the lid/base openings of my boxes (like the one shown below). Virtually anyplace you want to remove that little rounded corner.
It’s a great product, designed by someone who completely understands the problems of banding inlay, and the solutions. At $79 perhaps it’s not for everybody, but it’s a precision-machined product that does precisely what it is intended to do. Who can ask for more than that?
You can get yours directly from Andrew at www.fine-boxes.com as I did, or from Lee-Valley at www.lee-valley.com.
-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)