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October 24, 2014

Routing Wood with a Router Template

Routing Wood the Easy Way

 

Routing wood with a plunge router and router templateRouting wood for wood inlay requires using a router in a controlled manner. One of the challenges of using a wood router is making sure that the spinning router bit stays within the desired area to be cut. Using a router template is a great way to ensure that the woodworker is able to maintain cutting accuracy. As a result, routing wood with a template can also greatly improve  efficiency and production in the woodworking shop.

 

Making the Router Template

 

Routing wood with a router templateThe woodworking video shows how the router template is easily made by using a scrap of 1/4 inch MDF. The design of the diamond veneer is transferred onto the MDF by taking a sharp pencil and outlining the pattern. Next, a critical measurement is taken into consideration. We measure from the cutting edge of the router bit to the outside edge of the router guide bushing. This measurement is now added to the outline of the diamond that is now on the MDF. This newly created outline is then cut out on the band saw and becomes our actual guide for routing wood. (Cut just shy of the line and clean up the cut with a file.)

 

Routing Wood with the Plunge Router

 

Routing Wood - Bandsawn router template guide.Using double stick tape is an easy way to secure and align the position of the router template. Set the depth of the router bit just shy of the wood veneer to be inlaid. The next step is simply routing wood with a plunge router that has a straight bit. Cut along the outside edge of the template in a counter clockwise direction. Once this outline is cut it is then time to “hog” out all the remaining  wood within the template.

 

Using Chisels for the Final Cleanup

 

Routing wood with a router template - Gluing & clamping.Once we are finished routing wood with the plunge router, it is then time to remove our routing template. The outer points of our diamond pattern need to be further defined. We now take a straightedge and a pencil to outline the points and then proceed by using sharp chisels to clean up the remaining wood. Finally, we can test fit our diamond wood veneer inlay. When we have our perfect fit, we can continue with the glue up and clamping.

 

 

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Card Scraper for Wood Inlay Bandings

Card Scraper for a Smooth Surface

 

Card Scraper: An Inexpensive  Tool of Great Value

 

A card scraper is an inexpensive tool of flat steel. It is about the size of a index card and is used by the woodworker in the woodworking shop. The edges of this tool are polished and then a burnisher is used at an angle to produce a burr. This burr actually forms a hook. To use the card scraper hold each end with your fingers while pressing forward with both thumbs. This will cause the card scraper to flex. Tilt the scraper forward slightly to begin scraping with the flexed portion of the scraper. One beauty of the card scraper is that the woodworker can utilize the full length of the hooked edge. When that edge dulls, simply flip the card over and use another sharp edge. Each of the two length will have two hooked edges.

The Card Scraper is Often Overlooked

 

Cosmati Picture Frames - Before Card Scraper UsageThis great hand tool is often overlooked and yet it can help one to produce excellent results for one’s woodworking projects. It takes just a little time to understand how the card scraper is sharpened. However, once you learn how to sharpen one you will be well on your way. (The photo at left was taken prior to using a card scraper.)

 

 

Prepare for the Finish 

 

The card scraper can greatly assist the woodworker when preparing the woodworking project for finish. The card scraper will save one from a lot of heavy sanding to remove milling marks, excess glue squeeze out, and rasp marks. Many woodworkers will generally take a power sander with a heavy grit to remove these marks and then progress to finer grit sandpaper. However, a woodworker can eliminate a lot of the heavy sanding by using the card scraper.

 

A Card Scraper Offers Control

 

 Cosmati Picture Frames - After Card Scraper UsageIn the case of working with 3/32″ wood inlay bandings, a card scraper offers the woodworker a great deal of control. The scraper works well with wood segments of varying grain directions where tear out is a major concern. Some may be tempted to use hand planes, a planer, or power sander to level the wood surface. However, there is always the chance of bringing the surface too low thus ruining the wood inlay banding.  Try using a card scraper and then a finer grit sandpaper to prepare for your choice of wood finish. (The photo at the left was taken after using a card scraper.)

 

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Custom Inlay Designs for Arts and Crafts Woodworking

“Some old things are lovely, warm still with life … of the forgotten men who made them.”
D.H. Lawrence…(1885-1930) English novelist, poet, essayist.

Custom Inlay Designs for Arts and Crafts Woodworking

Custom Inlay Designs

Custom inlay designs are found throughout the facade of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (Duomo) in Florence, Italy. As a woodworker who enjoys creating various forms of wood inlay, I felt the urgency to capture the custom inlay designs that this spectacular church offers. The photograph clearly reveals a well thought out and  beautifully balanced marble inlay pattern.  The contrasting marble colors and varying geometric shapes invite one eye’s to pan across the design to understand the simple complexities of this elegant inlay border. As a trained woodworker, I find myself also listening to the thoughts of the skilled craftsmen who created these custom inlay designs back in the 1870′s. Perhaps these artisans were somehow inspired by other men such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo who had lived in Florence centuries ago.

Custom inlay designs such as this example reveal years of training and experience. As much as I enjoy the finished product, I would have loved to have witnessed seeing the various colors of marble as they were pulled from their quarries. Moreover, it would have been a joy to see how the apprentices worked alongside the journeyman while learning the craft. One can only imagine how the individual pieces of inlay were cut and fit. As we can see in the photo, all inlays were cut precisely for perfectly tight fitting joints.

 

Arts and Crafts Woodworking

Arts and crafts woodworking draws from countless ideas and influences from the past. For example, we can see how a woodworker named Gustav Stickley was influenced by the British arts and crafts movement while he visited England. It was this exposure to the English crafts movement that fired Stickley’s imagination. Obviously, we as woodworkers draw inspirations and influences from woodworking magazines, woodworking forums, and numerous books on the craft. However, if we keep our eyes and ears open as Gustav Stickley did, we can find woodworking ideas and inspirations where we least expect it.

Custom inlay designs on the facade of the Santa Maria del Fiore send a convincing message of pride in craftsmanship. Decorative inlays such as this example take plenty of time and patience. Yet it requires more than that to do a job like this well. It takes love of the craft. It is more than likely that the best marble inlay craftsmen in Florence were working on this project. Keep in mind that this is the face of the Cathedral and at eye level where every detail can be viewed and appreciated well beyond the lifetime of the craftsman.

Arts and Crafts woodworking in my shop takes on a new meaning after visiting Italy. My thoughts and ideas for wood inlay have shed their old limitations. I now look forward with enthusiasm to creating new hardwood inlays based upon the custom inlay designs from the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo. Without a doubt, I’ll be listening for inlay advice from the men who worked the craft from years gone by.

Recommended Videos:

Let’s install Wood Inlay Bandings
Ripping Thin Strips of Wood Inlay on the Band Saw
Making Wood Inlay on the Bandsaw
Let’s Build a Bandsaw Miter Sled

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Decorative Inlay Patterns for Custom Hardwood Inlays

“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all  come.”
Michelangelo…Italian Sculptor, painter, architect, engineer, and poet (1475-1564)

Inlay Design from the Duomo in Florence Italy

Inlay Pattern from Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

If you have been following this woodworking blog for anytime you know that there is quite a bit of attention devoted to creating wood inlay in the workshop. As woodworkers who love our work, we are constantly on the lookout for new ideas and fresh inspirations. Sometimes, we are able to capture insights from woodworking magazines, DVDs, or books on working with wood. However, on a recent trip I came across something very stimulating that I’d like to share with you, my viewers. These decorative inlay patterns for custom hardwood inlays are actually inlay designs from the facade of the Santa Maria del Foire Cathedral in Florence, Italy.

When you first see the this church it can be quite overwhelming as it truly magnificent and is just loaded with such a vast amount of finely crafted detail. What is even more amazing is the fact that entire facade of this Cathedral is wrapped in polychromatic veneers of marble. For the purpose of this posting on decorative inlay patterns for custom hardwood inlays, I find it best to begin with an extremely simple and yet elegant marble inlay design. The white marble is from Carrara. The green is from Prato and the red marble is from Sienna. (Carrara, Prato, and Sienna are all towns in Italy from which the marble is quarried.) Notice how the marble color combinations play off of one another. Also, take a look at how the interior mouldings of the rectangle and the square are mitered. As a woodworker, if you want to learn how to inlay wood, this design in marble is a great place to start.

Starting from the small square at the very center of the inlay pattern, notice how this white square is turned on its point and sets the stage for the direction of the overall inlay design. The rounded red cross follows this same direction as does the larger square. Here, the larger square with its mouldings and shadow lines adds a perception of depth as does the surrounding rectangle with its mouldings.

The overall inlay pattern may seem difficult at first. However, this is where we woodworkers take our time and enjoy the woodworking process. As you can clearly see, the inlay design is not hard once we break it down into its smaller components. However, my first thought is that it would be best to lay this custom inlay pattern out on paper and then take our measurements from there. By making duplicate copies of the overall pattern we can make templates available for each component’s pattern. From there it is just a matter of fitting the components together.

Marble inlays from the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

When creating wood inlay patterns we are able to utilize our veneers from an assortment of hardwoods. Here, we can experiment with different wood colors to see how they contrast or compliment one another. We can also pay special attention to the wood grain patterns as this may provide a positive influence to our custom woodworking inlay.

Keep in mind that once we have the overall decorative inlay patterns and individual component templates made, we can then create any number of custom hardwood inlays. From here it is simply a matter of production work and if we choose, we can repeat the inlay pattern throughout our wood project. As you can imagine, the craftsman of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral used this custom inlay and other inlay designs continually on the marble facade to create an astonishing work of art. What type of an affect could inlays like this have on our furniture pieces, fireplace mantels, and other wood projects?

Note: The installation on the front facade of the Santa Maria del Fiore began in 1876 and was completed in 1887.

Recommended Videos:
How to install Wood Inlay
Ripping Thin Strips of Wood Inlay on the Band Saw
Let’s Install Wood Inlay Bandings

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A Study of Creating Wood Inlay Bandings

How to Make Decorative Wood Inlay Bandings

 

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
Mark Twain…American Author and Humorist…(1835-1910)

Ornamental Wood Inlay Bandings #1

Ornamental Wood Inlay Banding #1

We will refer to the banding in the illustration as “Banding #1″ for the convenience of identity.

For this example the dimensions for the inlay package are 4″ x 10″ x 3/8″. For this instance the length of the sliced wood inlay bandings would work well for a typical picture frame that houses a 5″ x 7″ picture. When creating wood inlay bandings we need to keep in mind that the longest length our project will require us to make the banding a bit long. By making the hardwood inlay banding longer it will allow us leeway for cutting and fitting the banding into place to our liking.

A few items of importance with this study of decorative wood inlay bandings:

1.) Notice the direction of the wood grain for this pattern. (The line and arrows indicate the grain direction.) There is no end grain that will be exposed in the finished product.

2.) See how the design is created by using contrasting wood colors. (Example…walnut and maple.)

3.) Notice the sandwich of woods. The thicker walnut on top and bottom has a 1/16″ veneer of maple in between. This smaller sandwich was produced from a longer sandwich and was cut on the band saw using the crosscut sled with a stop block. All the smaller sandwiches have a length of 1-1/4″.

4.) The intermediate blocks of solid maple were cut on the band saw utilizing the band saw crosscut sled and a stop block. These maple blocks measure 4″ x 3/8 x 3/4″. By using the bandsaw crosscut sled they can safely be cut from dimensioned material that has a length of 7″ or so.

5.) The banding is ripped on the band saw to a thickness of 3/32″.

The wood inlay bandings are ideal when applied to furniture, jewelry boxes, and picture frames to name a few woodworking projects.

Recommended Videos:

Ripping Thin Strips of Wood Inlay on the Band Saw

Recommended Reading:

Buffard Freres…The 1926 Wood Inlay Banding Catalog

The Band Saw Sleds:

1.) The Bandsaw Crosscut Sled
2.) The Dedicated Band Saw Miter Sled
3.) The Tilting Miter Sled for the Band Saw

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