So after some time, I got back to this, and routed the channel for the inlay. Glued it in and is leveled.
With the base glued up, time to prepare the top for finishing.
Will coat the inlay with shellac as Norm did on the Nest of Tables. Then seal coat the whole piece. The gel stain recipe goes on next, top-coated finally with poly.
Here is the top after leveling the inlay and scraping. With poplar’s grain, you can see where some is almost mirror smooth, and some is open grain. This is no sanding, just hand scraping.
Here, although the focus is on the scraper results, the inlay is in there.
-- There are many tempting parking places on the road to success