Router inlay

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Forum topic by Jonwilliam posted 12-21-2011 04:46 AM 2395 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2642 days

12-21-2011 04:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cutting board inlay router question

I have reached an impass with trying to figure out how to make this work. I have a cutting board built and want to inlay the japanese character (kanji) for “joy” in the middle for our nanny. I want it about 6” tall. I have included of an image that the inlay will be based upon…for the inlay of course I will have cleaner edges on the character. I could free-hand it with the router by cutting out the individual pieces of the kanji first but I want it to be cleaner than that. The big part that is throwing me off is that a couple pieces of the character have holes in the middle. I do have the whiteside router inlay kit. Thanks for any help anybody can give!

Semper Fi

-- -Redwood Falls MN

7 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2835 days

#1 posted 12-21-2011 05:44 AM

I ll tell you how I do it. Not saying its the best but has worked fine for years. I would spend some time scrollsawing the inlay, then follow up detailing the edges to your likeing. Then scribe the pattern to the cutting board. I judiscilusly score the scribe with whatever is neccessary: chisel, knife, razor,etc. I then use a large (3.5hp) router with a veining bit to plow the field out working carefully at the edges. I typically will mill inlays to approx.3/16 to 1/4. The depth I plow will be 1/16 less than the inlay. Once driven into place with a bit of glue and allowed to cure I then use spokeshaves to cut the inlay down. Then usually light sanding. Good luck with it, very easy, just a little slow. JB (BTW I normally do this under a magnifier light)

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117120 posts in 3604 days

#2 posted 12-21-2011 06:33 AM

cabmaker’s approach sounds good to me.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2528 days

#3 posted 12-21-2011 10:54 AM

Cabmaker’s approach sounds like that used by the Wood Whisperer in this video. It’s a long one, but interesting.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2381 days

#4 posted 12-21-2011 11:09 AM

Another possible proach is to scroll out a jig, get some router bushings to follow your jig and mortise it out that way, then chisel out the parts the router won’t take.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1600 posts in 3585 days

#5 posted 12-26-2011 05:47 PM

I think he’s concerned about the centers that are “trapped”. One possible approach is to not close in the “circle”, but build a “bridge” from the center to the outside to do most of the design and to keep it one piece. Then you can come back in and “fix” the “bridge”. That “bridge” could be one entire stroke that would be easy to retrofit once the larger part is done.

Now that I think about it, you could do half the pattern as one complete inlay, wait for it to cure, then do the other half as a separate inlay. This might also address the pattern being so close together.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Jonwilliam's profile


29 posts in 2642 days

#6 posted 12-29-2011 04:06 AM

Well I have completed the cutting board using the freehand method from the Woodwhisperer. I’ve used that method before with a dresser for my wife that has a diamond ring inlay in the top for a wedding gift for her. On one I tried to fill the micro gap around the outside in some spots with superglue, and this one with epoxy. Neither did a very good job hiding the joint between the background and the inlay. Kinda dissapointed in that part. I just wish that I could have done it with an inlay kit to get it perfect. Is there any tutorial on an inlay kit that tells you how to oversize the pattern to get it to work right? It seems like the distance between the outside edge of the router bit and the outside edge of the bushing is 3/16” +/-. For this project it wouldn’t have worked unless I made the inlay quite a bit larger. I’m still not entirely proud of my project…but since I made it i’m the only one that can pick out ever single defect/mistake!

I’ll try to get some time later to upload a picture of the completed board.

-- -Redwood Falls MN

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#7 posted 01-18-2012 09:42 PM

I always try to use my inlay bushing. That way the recess and the inlay are cut with the same pattern.
First cut a negative pattern of the image, oversized by 1/8”, and sand it smooth. I like 1/4” hardboard or MDF for the template material. You will also need to make patterns for the inside of the open symbols. Tape the pattern on your cutting board version 2.0 with carpet tape (available at Lowe’s). Use the sleeve on your Whiteside kit and cut the recess. Then tape the same template on your inlay stock, and remove the sleeve to rout the inlay. You will need the paper pattern to re-align the center of the symbols. Cut the inlay free on the bandsaw, and you’ll have it made in the shade.
Otherwise, what does “Happiness” look like in Japanese?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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