Basic wood inlay

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Forum topic by brownmd posted 03-14-2010 06:46 AM 5875 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 3226 days

03-14-2010 06:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question inlay stain finishing

So I’m building a bed, and I was thinking about adding a little decoration. Specifically, I was thinking about adding a long inlay strip to the side rails, and maybe a few other places as well, but I have a few questions. First, is the process as simple as it seems to me? Cut a groove, add some glue, put a piece in, then plane it flush? Second, I’m planning on staining the bed (made of hemlock) with a fairly dark stain like mahogany. I’m thinking the inlay would look nice if left lighter… so that leaves me with another question. Do you stain them separately then put together, then top coat? Put it together, tape it, then stain?

Anyway, whenever I look for tutorials, etc, all I seem to find is how to do stuff that’s a lot more complex than I’m looking to do. Anyone with a bit of advice, or know of any good resources I can turn to?


7 replies so far

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

539 posts in 4062 days

#1 posted 03-14-2010 07:02 AM

It’s just about as simple as it seems!! Do just as you said, and cut a groove, glue in the inlay, and sand/plane flush. As far as staining, I’d suggest getting the inlay piece as close as possible to a thickness matching the groove BEFORE gluing it in. This way, you can pre-apply a coat of shellac (like Zinsser Seal-Coat) to the inlay strip. Then glue it in, sand it flush, and put another coat of shellac on the inlay. To isolate the inlay from the main wood (hemlock), put a good quality masking tape up to the edge of the inlay before adding the second coat of shellac. Hopefully the first coat of shellac soaked into the inlay far enough that sanding/planing didn’t remove most of it. Then when you add the second coat of shellac, let it dry, and apply the stain to the entire piece, the inlay should take very little, if any, of the stain. Maybe try a gel-stain, which can be immediately removed from the inlay with a Q-tip while it’s still wet. Or you could put masking tape directly over the inlay before staining the piece, but I think that with the shellac applied, you won’t need to do this.

I hope it works out for you!!

I also hope other LJs give you some more suggestions. There are a lot of really experienced people here when it comes to inlay and staining.

Have fun!

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View brownmd's profile


17 posts in 3226 days

#2 posted 03-14-2010 10:12 AM

Thanks… glad to hear it’s not too complicated!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3994 days

#3 posted 03-14-2010 01:08 PM

Here are some videos that Keith Cruickshank has produced on the subject of inlays, if you are interested.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Ger21's profile


1075 posts in 3303 days

#4 posted 03-14-2010 02:30 PM

If you plan on staining the wood, I’d think twice about the inlay. At least do a sample first, to see how difficult it will be to keep the stain off the inlay.

-- Gerry,

View mpmitche's profile


428 posts in 3148 days

#5 posted 04-24-2010 04:38 AM

That was a great video Scott, thanks for sharing.

-- Mike, Western New York

View MasterSergeant's profile


1372 posts in 2860 days

#6 posted 02-27-2011 05:47 PM

Yes, that was a very informative video! Thanks for passing on the link!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3155 days

#7 posted 02-28-2011 05:20 PM

Bob Simmons has a site where he talks about inlay work.
Here’s his LJ profile.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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