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How to Create Barber Pole Wood Inlay Banding

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
Carlos Casateda…Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author…(1925-1998)

Decorative wood inlay...the Barber Pole Design

The Barber Pole Pattern of Wood Inlay

The barber pole wood inlay banding is one of the more common banding patterns that we see adorning wood projects. While the design may be somewhat common there are numerous ways in which the basic design can be varied. For example a woodworker can simply enhance a project with the basic design or he can add an additional barber pole banding to create a “mirrored” pattern.

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The barber pole pattern can be also be doubled to create a feather pattern as well.

Feather wood inlay banding pattern

Feather wood inlay banding pattern

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The Buffard Freres of Paris employed variations of the Barber Pole theme to create bandings 1150-1155. With a bit of imagination and patience the possibilities seem endless.
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Variations of the "Barber Pole" wood inlay banding pattern

Variations of the \”Barber Pole\” wood inlay banding pattern

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Creating the Package:
To create the package for this example we are using contrasting woods of maple and walnut. The finished package will be 4″ wide x 16” long x 2″ thick. (For this example the strips are 1/4″) The walnut and maple strips can be ripped on the table saw or the band saw. Rip long strips that are about 1/4″ x 2″ x about 25″ inches long and glue them together in an alternating manner so that the veneer strips contrast one another. Consider gluing smaller bundles of 2 inches and re-gluing them together to make a wider bundle of 4 inches. Clamp the strips securely with wax paper and cauls to obtain nice, tight joints.
Once the glue has set it is time to clean up the package and dimension it. It can be sent through the open drum sander to create two flat surfaces that are parallel to one another.

Now, we cut a 45 degree angle on one end of the bundle. We then use a combination square and measure 4 inches perpendicular to the 45 degree cut we just made. Make a mark with a pencil and cut another 45 degree angle. Repeat this process and then glue all of these cuts together edge to edge. The finished package should look like the illustration at the top of this page.

Slicing Barber Pole Wood Inlay Banding:
When the package is dimensioned the barber pole section can then be sliced on the bandsaw. In my workshop a thin rip jig with a roller bearing is used along with a band saw rip fence.
Recommended Video…Ripping Thin Strips of Wood Inlay on the Band Saw

Adding the outer veneers to the barber pole:
Once the barber pole sections are sliced from the main package it it time for us to add veneer to the flat sides of the barber pole sections. We create a sandwich of two outer veneers with an interior core of the barber pole sections. We carefully glue and clamp the sandwich together using clamps along with cauls.
Once the glue of this sandwich is dry it is time to clean up the sandwich. Joint an edge and make the other edge parallel by ripping the sandwich on the bandsaw or table saw. Clean any excess glue off from the sandwich.

Ripping Wood Inlay Banding on the Band Saw:
Use the same technique as we did in the above step,”Slicing the Barber Pole.” Set the roller bearing of the thin rip jig to 3/32.” (or your desired thickness.)
Once the bandings are ripped we are ready to install Barber Pole wood inlay that we have made in our own shop!

Note: Barber Pole wood inlay banding can also be created on the band saw with the Tilting Bandsaw Miter Sled.

Recommended Article…How to Make Picture Frames with Wood Inlay

Watch… Let’s Install Wood Inlay Bandings


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