Planing question - planing over inlay

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 02-24-2013 06:20 AM 1456 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3169 days

02-24-2013 06:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut maple planer

I am working on a wall mounted height chart for my son. It will have small pieces of walnut inlaid to mark the foot and half foot measurements. The grain of the walnut runs perpendicular to the grain of the maple. I’ve attached a photo of the work in progress so you can get an idea of what I mean. The walnut pieces are slightly over 1/8” wide and either 1 or 2 inches long.

I still need to make the notches for the walnut deeper, but once they are nearly flush I’d like to glue the walnut into place and then run the whole thing through the planer to smooth it up. My question – will planing the walnut against the grain ruin the project? Is there anything I should be aware of before I do this?


7 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5705 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 02-24-2013 06:24 AM

I have planed inlay that ran with the grain, and it worked fine, however I would not attempt to plane since your inlays are cross grain. Belt sand to get it close. Then switch to a random orbital sander. This will work just fine, with no risk of destroying your inlay.

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

View Rob's profile


316 posts in 3012 days

#2 posted 02-24-2013 01:56 PM

Pintodeluxe’s response would be the way to do it to avoid any chance of ruining the inlay but I’ve ran boards with inlays through my planer without any problems also. I don’t know what kind of knives you have in your planer but I have a spiral cutter head. The trick is to make sure the inlays aren’t standing proud of the main board by very much to begin with and I just take light passes, Once they are even, there isn’t much to worry about. Because the inlays are sandwiched in the notches, you eliminate the chance of tear out. Tear out would be most likely to happen at an exposed end which wouldn’t be present in what you want to do.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3590 days

#3 posted 02-24-2013 02:08 PM

Sanding will result in some of the walnut dust bleeding on to the lighter wood. I think a card scraper would be the best method.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3169 days

#4 posted 03-01-2013 11:18 PM

I’ve started gluing the inlays into place, I am going to try to flatten them as close as possible to the rest of the board using a sharp chisel and then take very light passes on the planer and see what happens. I’ve got a dewalt with standard blades, not spiral. I do have spiral in my jointer.

I will need to figure out what to do about the side of the piece, where the small end grain cross section of the walnut needs to be flush with the maple. What do you think would happen if I tried to trim that side with the jointer?

Maybe I’ll make a test piece with a single inlay and see what happens on both machines.

View darthford's profile


608 posts in 1949 days

#5 posted 03-01-2013 11:40 PM

I have jigged routers to flush trim inlay and dowels, then hit it with the orbital sander and done. Make a simple base for the router with a channel cut in it.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3169 days

#6 posted 03-22-2013 03:53 AM

If anyone is curious, the planer did the job. I did make up a test piece first to see what would happen. On both the tester and the project, I used a chisel to try to get the surface as flush as possible before planing.

I also ran the edge through the jointer afterward to clean up that edge. The final project page is here.

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2298 days

#7 posted 03-22-2013 10:15 AM

Card scraper…....

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

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