Saturday, September 12, 2009

A New Inlay Idea...

I want to try out a new inlay idea on some of the boxes I'm making. Pretty soon I have to start getting ready for a Jim Malcolm concert, but I did have a little time this afternoon to get down into the shop and work on the first few steps, so I thought I would share that with you.

After laying out cut-outs of my idea on paper, I went through my stock to choose the wood I was going to use. I narrowed it down to holly (very white and with practically no grain) and then either bog oak or blackwood. The blackwood really has the darker color, which is what I'm ultimately looking for, but the blackwood I have would limit the size of my inlay. I think the bog oak will be dark enough once I add a little bit of boiled linseed oil to it, and it would allow for two pieces of inlay in the larger dimensions I wanted.

In the end, I couldn't decide, so I went ahead and prepared both of them. I'm always up for trying new things out and this seemed like a great opportunity to play around.

I already had my blackwood and bog oak thicknessed so I just needed to get a piece of the holly prepared. I didn't take any pictures of it, but you didn't miss anything. Since it was the first time I'd used the board, I took my Stanley #6 and jointed one edge. Then I used the tablesaw to rip off a strip that was about 1/8" thick. I cut a section off the strip that was the same size as the blackwood and then cut another section off that was a tad longer than the bog oak.

The blackwood was already 1/8" thick, so I didn't need to plane down that piece of holly, but the bog oak was a little more like 3/32" thick, so I took the block plane to the other piece of holly to get it flush with the bog oak.

The setup here is a piece of oak board (unfinished wide-plank flooring, in case you are wondering) with two brass screws sunk just shy of flush. I pressed the holly up against the screws and then planed towards them. Pressure keeps the strip in place. It didn't take much to get me down to 3/32" thick.

Then I needed to joint all of the matching edges. As you might have seen before, I like to do this with a Stanley #5 turned upside down on my bench. With that setup, I can easily run the strips of wood over the plane with control. I don't generally use any guide blocks to make sure the edge is exactly 90 degrees - you'd be amazed how well your mind can figure it out on its own.

After just a few minutes, all four pieces were jointed. If you're new to planing, this kind of work makes you feel REALLY good. It doesn't take much to get a small pile of curly shavings collected under the plane.

The only other thing I had time for today was the glue-up. Since this is inlay, and once I have it in the box there will be no stresses applied to the joint, I just needed to lightly clamp the pieces in place for a bit.

After a little thought, I accomplished this with the use of my bench hook. I pushed it into place on the bench, covered it with a piece of waxed paper, and then clamped a strip of wood parallel to the fence of the bench hook at the far end. With the addition of two filler strips (these three pieces are spanish cedar, waiting around for another project) and two shims I grabbed from my toolbox, I was ready to go.

I glued up the inlay pieces, set them into place, and then used the two shims to wedge the filler strips tight against the inlay. Again, I just need a good enough glue joint to keep everything together until I get it inlaid into the box, so I just tightened up the shims with hand pressure.

I'll let this sit for a day while I get kilted up for Jim Malcolm and hopefully I'll find some time tomorrow to work on the next part of the inlay.

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