Wood Inlay Banding – The Diamond Pattern
The diamond pattern is a decorative wood inlay banding. It is a striking custom inlay used to embellish furniture, adorn jewelry boxes, and beautify picture frames. Yes of course, many woodworking projects can be enhanced by adding these wooden inlays. Yet, how does a woodworker go about making the diamond pattern wood inlay banding in the workshop? What power tools are used for making inlay banding? Follow along as we focus on the diamond pattern to answer these questions. Learn how to make wood inlay banding using woodworking techniques developed by The Apprentice and The Journeyman.
Download the diamond pattern wood inlay banding at the Trimble 3D Warehouse, formerly known as Sketchup. (Google account necessary.)
The Design of the Diamond Pattern
This wood inlay banding has two core components. One component is the diamond and the other is the triangle. For simplicity, the diamond pattern for this featured wood inlay banding is being referred to as 60 degrees. (The angles of the wood segment are actually 60, 60, 120, 120 to add up to a total of 360.) The triangle component is has two 30 degree angles plus a 120 degree angle. The height of the diamond is exactly twice the height of the triangle.
Each side of the wood inlay banding has a pair of veneers that are of 1/16″ thickness. Notice how the various components of the wood inlay banding are of contrasting wood tones.
Preparing Materials for the Diamond Pattern
(Again for simplicity, the woods in this example will be referred to as maple and cherry. The diamonds are the maple and the triangles cherry. The outer veneers consist of both maple and cherry hardwoods.)
The dimensions of our material to begin our wood inlay banding project are as follows:
Maple – 3/4″ x 2″ x 14″
Cherry – 3/8″ x 2″ x 14″
Measure the thickness using a dial caliper. It is critically important that material for the triangles is half the thickness of the diamond’s material.
Cutting the Diamond Segments
The diamond segments of maple are cut on the band saw using a 60 degree tilting band saw sled. This sled is a shop built cross cut sled with the band saw table adjusted to 30 degrees. Cut the end of a stop block to this angle. The measurement for the diamond segment in our example is 3/4″. Make test cuts with scrap to achieve the 3/4″ measurement and the correct position of the stop block. Use the dial caliper to measure a test segment. From the end view the segment should appear as a perfect diamond shape. Measure across the segment in both directions. When we have the 3/4″ dimension in both directions, we are good to go. Position the stop block to the sled’s fence and clamp it securely.
When cutting the segments for the wood inlay banding make sure that the crosscut sled is free of any sawdust. Take time to properly place the material being cut against the stop block. Allow the band saw blade to make its cut through the material. Repeat and enjoy the process. All of the diamond segments should be identical to one another. For organization, place all diamond segments in a container.
Cutting the Triangles
The triangles are also cut on the band saw. The table of the band saw is set to 0 degrees. A horizontal cross cut sled is used in this operation. The fences of the sled are 30 degrees to the band saw blade. A quick release horizontal toggle clamp is used to secure a stop block for the cut. We will make our cuts from one side of the V shaped fence. (Refer to the picture.)
Keep this thought in mind. The triangle sides have to be an exact match to the sides of the diamond. The 3/8″ height of the triangle is half of the diamond 3/4″ height. This is critical for an exact fit for our diamond pattern. Also important is that the triangle length is equal to the diamond’s length. Use a dial caliper to ensure the accuracy of these measurements.
To obtain the correct triangle segment, the stop block must be adjusted. Make test cuts using the same thickness of material. Place the material against the fence and slide it just past the saw kerf. Make a fresh cut. Now, flip the material over, adjust for length of cut, and clamp the stop block into place. Make test cuts to determine the desired triangle segment length. Measure the length of the segment using the dial caliper. When the correct length is made, simply flip the material over after each cut. This will produce a triangle segment that matches the diamond perfectly.
Note: Make a test cut to determine the quality of the cut. Use a sanding block with a 120 grit sanding belt wrapped around it to clean up the cut if necessary. Also, make a test cut to determine how long of a segment can be cut accurately.
The Wood Inlay Banding Gluing Process
The gluing system developed by the Apprentice and The Journeyman is designed for accuracy of the wood inlay banding. A flat plastic laminated surface is desirable. We want to be able to use the straight edges of the laminated surface and we want to be able to apply F clamps or parallel clamps.
Step 1. Clamp a straight board parallel to the edge of the laminated surface. The distance from the edge is equal to or greater than the segment lengths. Also, The straight board needs to be longer than the length of our banding log. (Prevent this board from being glued to the banding log. Cover the edge with blue painter’s tape, plastic, or work fast during the glue up.)
All ends of the banding components will align with the edge of the clamped board.
Step 2. Apply blue tape with the adhesive side up where the first row of triangle segments are to be laid. Secure the blue tape in position. Use masking tape at each end of the blue tape.
Step 3. Use a combination square to set the first triangle segment. Lay the next triangle segments in position. Make sure the edges line up.
Note: Make a dry run before glue up. Be sure of the alignment of the diamond pattern.
Step 4. Use a disposable glue brush and apply white glue to the sides of a few triangles in the bottom row. Evenly apply glue to the two lower surfaces of a diamond segment. Lay and seat this segment into the glued valley of the triangle segments. continue this process along the length of the banding log.
Step 5. Glue the top triangles into the valleys created by the diamond segments. Brush glue on all angled surfaces equally.
Step 6. The core of the banding is now flat on the top and the bottom. Apply glue along the top surface and brush it out evenly. Apply glue to one side of the maple veneer and lay this side onto the top surface of the banding core. Glue the cherry veneer onto the maple veneer.
Step 7. Check to make sure all of the banding components are aligned against the clamped straight edge.
Step 8. Place a caul on the top of our banding log components. Apply even pressure with clamps along the length of the caul. Allow adequate time for the glue to set up. This could be just a few hours depending on temperature and humidity.
Step 9. Remove the clamps and caul. Turn the banding log over and place along the clamped straight edged board. Clean off any tape and scrape off any excess glue.
Step 10. Apply glue to the new surface. Glue the maple veneer to the banding log’s surface. Now, glue the cherry veneer onto the maple veneer.
Step 11. Align all edges against the clamped straight edge. Clamp the caul using even pressure along the length of the banding log. Allow the glue to cure overnight. Remove the caul and the clamps the next day.
Prepare the Banding Log for Slicing
Now it is time to clean up the banding log. We use a scraper to remove the excess glue. We then joint one edge of the banding log.
Slicing Wood Inlay Banding
The following is a band saw slicing technique developed by The Apprentice and The Journeyman. This method is for ripping thin uniform strips of veneer. The band saw fence is on the left of the saw blade, a Rockler Thin Rip Jig is secured in the miter gauge slot, and the material being cut is sandwiched between the fence and the jig. The jig has a roller bearing that the material rolls against as the cut is made. The material is cut to the right of the bandsaw blade. After each pass, adjust the fence to the right so the material is again alongside the roller bearing.
This method ensures uniform cuts as the jig is always at a set distance from the band saw blade. The jointed edge of wood inlay banding log is always alongside the band saw fence.
Step 1. With the jointed edge of the banding log along to band saw fence, rip the opposite edge of the banding log off so that the log is parallel.
Step 2. Make test cuts on scrap material so that a slicing of 3/32″ is made.
Step 3. Rip the banding log into wood inlay bandings.
Note: The saw blade used to cut the diamond patter wood inlay banding is 1/2″, 3-4 tpi, skip tooth blade. It is known as The Wood Slicer.
The Apprentice and The Journeyman is influenced by the Buffard Freres… The 1926 Wood Inlay Banding Catalog. Follow along as these decorative wood inlay banding patterns are decoded. Watch as woodworking techniques and methods are developed to create these wonderful wood veneers of custom inlay.