How to Make Wood Inlay Strips

Overview

Using inlay in your furniture can be a very attractive touch. You can buy premade types of inlay and banding, but if you want greater variety and control you can make your own. Making your own inlay strips gives you complete freedom of design. If you've never tried this before, get started with a basic two-toned inlay using holly and walnut veneer, or substitute any light and dark veneers you wish to use.

Step 1

Cut your light veneer into 2-inch wide strips using either a fine tooth hand saw or a table saw with a plywood blade installed. Cut the dark veneer in the same manner. Make the length of these pieces long enough for your longest measurement on the project.

Step 2

Spread an even amount of glue on to one side of two pieces of the light veneer. Sandwich a piece of dark veneer between the two pieces of light veneer. Clamp them together using a piece of plywood on top and on bottom to distribute clamping pressure. Use wax paper between the veneer and the plywood clamping cauls to prevent the veneer from being glued to the plywood. If you have several of these "veneer sandwiches" to glue up, simply stack them on top of each other with wax paper between each one and clamp them up together.

Step 3

Unclamp the veneer after an hour or two at the most. Scrape off any dried glue with a small paint scraper or card scraper. Square the edges up using a hand plane or a jointer. Take very light passes so you only remove a small amount of wood each pass. This will allow you to sneak up on a perfectly square edge; a very aggressive cut can tear the edge of the veneer.

Step 4

Rip thin strips off of these "veneer sandwiches" on the table saw. Most inlay strips are 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch thick. Use a push block to cover the thin strip and the saw blade as you cut them. This protects your hands, and also gives even pressure to the thin strip as it's being cut, ensuring an even and clean cut.

Step 5

Stack each strip as it comes off the saw. Once you have all of your strips cut, wrap them in very tight bundles using blue painters tape. This will prevent them from warping or from any damage as they are so thin and fragile. Leave them bundled up until you're ready to inlay them into your furniture.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/16 inch thick holly veneer
  • 1/16 inch thick walnut veneer
  • Hand saw or table saw
  • Plywood cauls
  • Wax paper
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps

References

  • WoodTreks: How to Make Decorative Inlay Banding
Keywords: wood inlay, make inlay strips, wood strips

About this Author

Adam King has been a writer, artist and educator for more than a decade. As an entrepreneur, his writing experience has covered many areas, ranging from small business topics, self-help, personal growth, to most recently fine furniture making. He currently writes for Fine Woodworking, The Woodworker's Journey, and Adam King Studio. His writing ranges from how-to articles to sales and promotional copy.

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