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Making Wood Inlay on the Bandsaw

When a woodworker searches the web to learn how to make wood inlay bandings there is little information to be found. In fact there seems to be very little information about how the masters of wood inlay created the wonderful patterns that are sometimes seen on museum quality furniture. However, there are some patterns of wood inlay from the Buffard Freres that offer a glimpse into the world of classic wood inlay from Paris. After studying these inlay designs the urge hit me to figure out how to could duplicate some of these patterns. What I am learning of this “lost art” I will attempt to share with those interested.

When I first began making wood inlay bandings my tool of choice was the table saw. However, my work has evolved and now my band saw is getting a workout. I like working with the band saw for cutting wood inlay segments for a number of reasons.
1). I find it safer when working with smaller or narrower wood pieces.
2.) There is no chance of kickback on a band saw.
3.) The band saw offers a great deal of control when working with sleds and the band saw rip fence.

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

Also important…The Bandsaw Rip Fence for Cutting Thin Strips

The three sleds and the rip fence each take 10-15 minutes to make and they can be made from scrap material in the workshop. The sleds are highly accurate and efficient. Actually, I had not seen or heard of any band saw sleds before I thought of cutting wood inlay segments on the band saw. My band saw sleds are an original thought that I developed for the purpose of cutting wood inlay segments. The sleds have opened up a new dimension for my band saw work and it’s as if my band saw has suddenly been upgraded.

When preparing stock for wood inlay it is important that the material is dimensioned properly. The material being used needs to be flat and of uniform thickness. I use the open drum sander for this operation.

When using a sled I clamp a stop block to the fence so that segments are cut to a uniform width or length.

So far the segments for the wood inlay I have created have been cut at either 90 degrees or 45 degrees. For the 90 degree cuts I use the crosscut sled. When making 45 degree cuts I use either the dedicated miter sled or the tilting miter sled depending on the particular cut to be made. Keep in mind is that the bandings do not have exposed end grain. The wood grain shown is either edge grain or face grain.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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  1. John says

    I heard about people doing this but this is the first time I have seen it demonstrated. Very nice and thanks for sharing.
    Also with the bandsaw you get less wood loss and keep your fingers.

    Have a nice Thanksgiving.


    Incidentally I sent the blog about veneering with hide glue to Chris Schwarz at PW as he is interested in planes and never mentioned the plane use for veneering. He said that he was aware of the post and would love to have you contribute to PW. So….

  2. John…

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! Thanks for taking a look. Creating wood inlay is a fascinated process that involves a little thought and a lot of flying by the seat of your pants. Mainly the latter if you know what I mean. You’re right as there is much less wood becoming sawdust and the odds of keeping one’s fingers are indeed much higher using the band saw technique.

    I’m not sure about the veneering with hide glue post. This may be another blogger who wrote the article. Thanks for keeping me in mind tho.

  3. Stephanie Daley says

    You are absolutely amazing.. I have been looking everywhere for How To’s on this amazing art, and you’ve done it!! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity, your experience, and your love for inlay work!

    I’m excited to get started!

    Curious… where do you purchase your wood for these projects? I don’t know how to search for it on the internet. I also am not sure which sources are reliable. Thanks so much again!

  4. Stephanie Daley says

    If you do not have an open drum sander, (which are amazing, I’ve used one before) how could you determine that your wood is flat and uniform as you mentioned? I can’t get enough of your videos. I am completely enamored! This is the first time I have heard of this, and am looking to implement this “new” technique into my woodworking.

    Thanks again.. I may have more questions. :)

  5. Stephanie…
    Let’s get started…Since this is new to you, it’s going to require focus, a commitment, and practice. It’s a step by step process that requires a bit of patience that anybody can do. It’s definitely worth the time.
    1.) Try a pattern that I have demonstrated. 2.)I recommend starting with scrap wood that you may have in the shop. 3.) Use contrasting colors within your patterns.

  6. If you do not have a drum sander…you can use a planer if your material is large enough to safely send thru the planer. It could be hand planed. It could be ripped on the bandsaw. However, the drum sander is a great tool for preparing the wood inlay.

    I recommend that you watch the videos repeatedly. You will learn more, answer some questions, and find out more questions to ask.

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