Decorative Wood Inlay Bandings with Checkers
Decorative wood inlay bandings are something that woodworkers appreciate. However, there is very little available information on how to create decorative wood inlay bandings in the woodworking shop. Having been inspired by the works of the Buffard Freres, I would like to share with you the techniques used to create decorative wood inlay bandings that have worked for me. The following is one of the wood inlay banding tutorials that I have created for the purpose of sharing with you. It is specifically for woodworkers who desire to bring the lost art of creating decorative wood inlay bandings back to life. Please enjoy and freely share with a friend.
“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn’t then it is of no use to us.”
Carlos Castaneda…Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author…(1925-1998)
(This banding design will be referred to as Banding #2 for the sake of convenience.)
Learn the wood craft of how to make decorative wooden inlay bandings in your woodworking shop. Make woodworking inlays for furniture, picture frames, jewelry boxes, and other wood projects.
Decorative wood inlay Bandings #2 with Checkers can easily be understood and made in the woodworking shop if we take a few minutes to understand the basic layout. The challenge of understanding this design becomes clearer when we are able to recognize the various components of the banding and isolate them. This banding has three essential components. We will call them Stripes, Checkers, and Outer Veneers.
1.) The Stripes consists of three strips of wood that are dimensioned equally to one another in length, width, and thickness. Of the three strips there are two of the same color with a contrasting color sandwiched in between. A long section of the Stripes is easily created by applying wood glue, using cauls, and clamping securely.
2.) The Stripes will be crosscut to their necessary lengths. (more information on this to come.)
1.) A Checker consist of three vertical sections. These sections are crosscut from two Stripes of the same design, but opposite color patterns. Let’s look a little closer at a Checker. The center vertical section is just like the main Stripe. (light woods on the top and bottom with a dark wood sandwiched in between.) This interior Checker member is crosscut to the thickness of one Stripe member.
2.) The left and right vertical members of the Checker are crosscut from opposite Stripes. Notice how the left and right vertical members consist of a dark member on the top and on the bottom with a light color in between. These members were crosscut from a Stripe which consists of dark wood for the top and bottom with an lighter colored wood sandwiched in between.
The Outer Veneers:
The Outer Veneers are simply dark strips (top & bottom)that serve to sandwich the Stripes and the Checkers. The Outer Veneers have the same width as the Stripes. The Outer Veneers cover the length of the Stripes plus the Checkers. The thickness of the Outer Veneers is based on the proportion that we think looks best.
We need to dimension both of our contrasting woods to the same width, length, and thickness. The woods will make up our Stripes and our Checkers.
We can dimension the Outer Veneers to our liking at this time also.
Note: All grain direction is to be along the length of the banding.
Gluing Stripes and Checkers:
We need to create two opposite Stripes. One Stripe will have a two light members on the top and bottom with a dark member at the interior. The opposite Stripe will have two dark members on the top and bottom with a light member at the interior.
Create each Stripe by brushing on equal amounts of glue. Use cauls and clamp securely. When the glue has completely set it is time to clean up each stripe by removing any excess glue. Joint an edge of of each Stripe and them make the opposite edge parallel by ripping it on the table saw or bandsaw.
We create the Checkers by crosscutting sections of the two Stripes. We will cut these sections by using the band saw crosscut sled. (A clamped stop block will ensure uniform repetitive cuts.) We want to cut a test section and check it with a dial caliper to ensure the width of our cut is equal to the thickness of a Stripe member. This measurement is critical to the overall design and balance of this banding pattern.
When all of of Checker section are cut to dimension is is time to glue them. We add a light coating of glue and carefully align the squares of the pattern. We then add small clamps and allow for the glue to set. Once the glue has set we clean off any excess glue.
Recommended Video…Bandsaw Crosscut Sled
1.) Let’s say we want a finished banding that is 10″ long. If we want an even number of Checkers we then divide total length of the Package by an odd number.
(Example…Our overall banding length is 10″. If we divide the overall length of the Package 5 we will have (5) 2″ sections. this means we will have (4) Checkers will be centered every 2″ along the length of the banding.)
2.) Create a story pole that is 10″ long. From one edge make a mark at 2”, 4″, 6″, and 8″. These marks represent the center of our Checkers.
3.) Cut the Outer Veneers two inches longer than the length of our desired banding. (The Outer Veneer will 12″ long in this case.) Find the center along the length of the Outer Veneer and make a mark on the edge. Now we can center our story pole on the mark we made on the edge of the veneer and layout the centers of all our Checkers. (Use a combination square to transfer these centering marks across the bottom Outer Veneer.
4.) Our Checkers will be centered at these locations and the Stripes will fit in between them. Measure the length between two Checkers and cut all Stripes that are needed to the same length.
Gluing the Package:
1.) Brush glue on the lower Outer Veneer and glue all members to the proper positions. Glue on the top Outer Veneer, add cauls, and clamp securely.
2.) Clean off excess glue once the glue of the package is dry. Joint an edge and then rip the other edge parallel on the table saw or band saw.
3.) Find the center along the length of the package. We then measure 5″ to each side to create the 10″ finished banding package we are looking for with this example. Make a mark at each location and cross cut both ends to achieve our desired length of 10 inches.
Ripping the Bandings:
Recommended Video… Ripping Thin Strips of Wood Inlay on the Band Saw
1.) At the band saw we set a thin rip jig in the miter slot 3/32″ from the band saw blade. The bearing will be set 1/2″ in front of the blade. We will set a thin rip fence on the left side of the blade. This needs to be inline with the angle of the band saw blade’s ”drift.” (Test to determine this angle beforehand.) Also, make a test cut to determine the accuracy of our 3/32″ thickness of our banding.
2.) After our test are completed it is time to rip our bandings to a uniform thickness. With the band saw in the off position place the right edge of of our Package against the bearing of the thin rip jig. Now slide the thin rip fence alongside the left edge of our Package and secure the fence. Turn on the band saw and rip a banding. Repeat and enjoy the process.
What are your thoughts on making shop-made decorative wood inlay bandings?
What patterns of decorative wood inlay bandings interest you?
If you create your own decorative wood inlay bandings, what techniques do you use?
Recommended Reading… Buffard Freres…The 1926 Wood Inlay Banding Catalog