Stone inlay in oak...what the process?

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Forum topic by JayTay posted 09-06-2016 03:06 AM 360 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 964 days

09-06-2016 03:06 AM

OK so I’m building some mission/craftsmen/arts and crafts end tables. I want to add a stone inlay into the top. Nothing fancy just a border a few inches in from the edge. Don’t really know how to go about this as I haven’t seen anyone doing stone inlay in oak before.
should I:

Dye and stain the top, build a top coat, then route the grooves for inlay and finish again. Reason for this is I feel the epoxy may mess up the dye and stain process and the sanding will get stone/epoxy powders in the oak pores. OR Just do the inlay first and hope for the best?

Side question: I wan the inlay to be a dark earthy green or may be a dark blue that will go with the theme. Has anyone worked with Chrysoprase? It has a MOH of 7.0. Is this to hard to work with?

12 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3462 posts in 1188 days

#1 posted 09-06-2016 10:44 AM

It depends on how your inlay will go in. Are you going to sand the stones flat to the surface of the wood? If so, I would do the inlay before finishing it.


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14 posts in 964 days

#2 posted 09-08-2016 02:15 AM

I would like to sand the stone flat. I think it will allow me to polish the stone giving it a better appearance. I’m to to thrilled with the way the sub epoxy stone looks. Looks like you got fish tank gravel in there.

View nightguy's profile


213 posts in 83 days

#3 posted 09-08-2016 02:38 AM

Why the Epoxy?

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14 posts in 964 days

#4 posted 09-08-2016 04:05 AM

From what I understand is CA glue works best if you’re going for a natural finish and epoxy if you are going to stain/dye/color the wood in anyway. The CA glue soaks into the wood around it which affects how the stain works, from what I’ve read.

View nightguy's profile


213 posts in 83 days

#5 posted 09-08-2016 04:11 AM

I dont quite understand. I would not let any glue type get into any unfinished wood that you plan n dying/staining that can be seen. If it does it will not take the dye/stain.

View splatman's profile


544 posts in 819 days

#6 posted 09-08-2016 04:55 AM

Anything with MOH 7 is gonna be a pain to sand. A better bet: Marble. Comes in a variety of colors, including dark green. Don’t know about dark blue. Marble has a MOH of ~3, so sanding it would probably be about the same as sanding dense hardwood.

Best way to find out is to sandwich a piece of marble (or the stone of your choice) between 2 pieces of wood, and sand and finish as you intend. Do not inhale the dust.

Marble can be had as tiles from a tile supplier. Cut the tiles into the shapes needed and glue into place.

View Lazyman's profile


611 posts in 808 days

#7 posted 09-08-2016 10:49 AM

I found this blog that you might find helpful:
This guy (Rusticandy) has a bunch of projects posted as well with rock inlay that might have other tips and tricks.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8098 posts in 2849 days

#8 posted 09-08-2016 01:46 PM

Check out Inlace for some ideas.
I use a lot of mesquite and its prone to worm tunnels, cracks and other defects (design opportunities?). Crushed, or small pieces of Turquoise is my choice for fillings. If another color is needed, I’ll use an Inlace product.
For the Turquoise, I’ll use System 3 epoxy for the larger defects or borders. For the tiny spots, CA. In either case, there’s never been a problem with bleeding.
Apply the inlay and epoxy, allow it to cure, sand and finish as you normally would.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View JayTay's profile


14 posts in 964 days

#9 posted 09-09-2016 03:22 AM

ok. so what I’m getting is that I should just do the inlay then finish. Use epoxy.

I looked up a bunch of stuff for some stone to use and it seams the stone below 4 Mohs is very porous. I dont think this will do well for an end table, it will get liquids spilled on it. I will look for a stone in the 5-6 Mohs range, this is the mohs of turquoise.

Time to order some bulk rocks and do a test…....

View splatman's profile


544 posts in 819 days

#10 posted 09-09-2016 03:37 AM

Once the finish is applied, any porosity will be irrelevant as far as clean-ability go. Are you intending not to apply any finish to the stone?

View nightguy's profile


213 posts in 83 days

#11 posted 09-09-2016 03:55 AM

You can go with the more porous stone,DO NOT put the wood finish on it, get stone/marble sealer where ever they sell tile and stone, BBS usually have it. It is basically liquid Silicone, put on the stone, let set a few minutes, wipe off excess, let dry over night, repeat, if you get a white haze you did not wipe off soon enough, just apply another coat, and wipe off while still wet. It will reactivate the excess that turned a bit white/cloudy, and good to go. It will enhance, make the stone colors pop also. Red wine wont even hurt it if wipe up when spilled.

View Kelly's profile


1048 posts in 2365 days

#12 posted 09-09-2016 06:59 AM

Just a bit of rambling. Apply it or toss it, as necessary.

I rebuilt our kitchen and did all the counters in granite tile. All that was just 3/8” thick stuff. I’ve also cut a lot of three centimeter granite for planter stand tops and so forth. To cut the tile I use a standard tile saw and a VARIABLE SPEED angle grinder.

The use of the tile saw is obvious. The only thing that really changes with it is the blades (a quality blade allows me to make clean cuts). The grinder allows me to cut circles and such.

Once the tile is cut, I use the angle grinder to bull-nose the tile. If I want a large radius, I’ll use stones that are cheap, but allow me to grind the edge over. If I want a smaller radius, I’ll use a granite router bit.

Once I’ve got the shape, I use polishing pads to polish the granite.

The variable speed grinder allows me to slow the grinder down enough to use the grind stones and polish pads.

If I were to inlay stone, I would cut the stone to the thickness and width I want. Then I’d cut the wood to allow me to press the stone in. I would stain before finishing. What I did next would depend on the fit of the inlay. I might use wax to fill minor gaps around the inlay, then apply the finish. I wouldn’t finish over the inlay.

Epoxy would make the rough edges look like they’ve been polished, and would fill gaps.

A while back, I experimented. Using crushed oyster shells (1/8” – 1/4”) and turquoise powder sold in a craft store, for card embossing work, mixed with epoxy, I got what many would believe is turquoise. Polished, the mix took on a turquoise look (the shell polished fine).

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