First inlay project help

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Forum topic by mikeymad posted 07-28-2015 05:19 PM 823 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1061 days

07-28-2015 05:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak question refurbishing finishing modern traditional

I am refinishing an old thrift store dining table for a friend out of paneled oak and planning to inlay their family initial in the expansion leaf. The problem is they want a dark table with light inlay. Would one stain the oak dark then do my light wood inlay, or do it all at once then carefully stain around the insert, or should I approach it as wood and resin inlay? Any help would be appreciated.


7 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


7958 posts in 2178 days

#1 posted 07-28-2015 05:24 PM

I would stain first if I was doing it.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2532 days

#2 posted 07-28-2015 07:22 PM

How dark? Walnut? Otherwise stain first.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1250 days

#3 posted 07-28-2015 11:05 PM

How many hard woods lighter? Maple will darken some not a lot. If you’re using oak and it must be dark enough to clearly offset the inlay I’d stain 1st, let it dry big time then cut the inlay. Use a clear coat over that for highlight. Maybe glass it with epoxy for depth and protection

-- I meant to do that!

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1549 days

#4 posted 07-29-2015 02:28 AM

I agree .. stain first. However, if there’s any possibility of any chipping on cutting for the inlay or, for any other reason, exposing of the cuts around the inlay, you might stain after cutting and before inlaying, being cautious to not get much stain in the grooves.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1204 days

#5 posted 07-29-2015 02:09 PM

As a first thought I would saw +1 to what Yonak said

Second thought: usually I leave inlay a little above the surface and then sand flat. Sanding could remove the stain.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1250 days

#6 posted 07-29-2015 09:23 PM

There’re ways around that WoodNSawdust. Woodworking is just another puzzle.

One could cut the female inlay, then cut the male side out of junk and again out of the finish hard wood. Drill a couple small 1/16” pilot holes through the female inset and out the bottom of the table. Place the finish inlay in the inset and finish sand the table. Pop the insert out via the holes, install the junk and stain the table. Pop the junk, painters tape the perimeter of the of the inset and insert, lightly glue the perimeter on the inset and insert, and let sit for a bit to tack. Sparingly glue the base of both the finish insert and inset, install and clamp well, the excess glue will exit the holes used to pop the finish and junk inserts.

-- I meant to do that!

View Grumpymike's profile


2263 posts in 2343 days

#7 posted 07-29-2015 10:02 PM

Ghidrah has the right idea, cut the negative (female) then stain and seal the top.
I like to use tape to cover the bottom of the negative so that the glue will adhere. (I have filled with sawdust but spraying the sealer caused a real mess).
After the sealer has set up set your inlay just a bit proud of the surface weight it down and wait till the next day.
Now, if you sand a dark surface next to a light surface the two woods will bleed together from the fine dust and look like crap. Do not sand. Use your card scraper (or your Stanley #80 or equiv.) to smooth the inlay to the top height. Re-seal the area and put on the first coat of finish.
Now with that all said, Oak is a very open grain wood so you will never have a smooth side for your inlay, but with the use of some of the grain fillers available today, I have seen some darkened oak, (Think of the Spanish Mission style of the 70’s) with honey tone oak inlay. It looked good.
Best of luck on this endeavor, and please show us some photo’s.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

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