Thursday, April 24, 2008

String Inlay

Lie Nielsen now carries tools to create string inlay* (pictured at right) based on Steve Latta's innovative designs.

I took Steve's inlay class a year ago at Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe, where we made simpler versions of the tools (pictured below).

While I won't show you how to make the tools since they are Steve's original designs, I will tell you that they are simple to use, if you're thinking about taking Steve's class, buying the L-N set, or making your own. I practiced for only about an hour before starting a Chester County line and berry design for a spice box door. It only took about 3-5 hours to do all of the inlay for this panel, although the "berries" aren't finished yet, nor has the surface been finish-sanded. It's far from perfect, but hopefully people won't inspect it too closely once it's done (which may be never, since it's been sitting in this state of incompletion for almost a year....)

The radius cutter pivots on a point while little teeth plow a groove for the inlay. You can see a close-up of the teeth configuration on the L-N website. In Steve's class, we also made a tool that plows a straight line and a thicknessing gauge that ensures the veneer strips are consistent in width. To use the gauge, you pull the veneer strip through a kerf in a block of wood. One side of the kerf is wood. The other side has a little scraper attached to it.

L-N also offers a dvd featuring Steve Latta creating the line and berry technique. I have not seen this video, but I can vouch for Steve's excellent teaching skills.

It's easier than you might think to add decorative string inlay to your projects.

*I do not sell for Lie-Nielsen (or Steve Latta), nor have I used their inlay tools, so I cannot comment on their performance.


Wyldth1ng said...

This is awesome!

anteakhuntr said...

VC - It would certainly pass the 10ft. test, which for me counts a lot at this point in my woodworking. I seem to recall an article in Fine Woodworking magazine by, I believe, Garrett Hack on doing string inlay, and he used a shop made tool from scraps and a cutter ground from part of a hack saw blade, and his results looked good on paper. anteakhuntr

TheWoodWhisperer said... I need to try it. See what you've gone and done! :)

The Village Carpenter said...

Thanks guys!

Anteakhuntr—the toughest part, at least for me, is mitering corners where two pieces of string inlay come together. I definitely need to practice that a little more.

Marc, go for it!! :o)

Corey said...

Hey, VC, I tried making a cutter for doing the curved work, and it was less than good. Could you post a close up of the tip and any suggestions for shaping it?
Thanks for the extra cool blog!

The Village Carpenter said...

Hi Corey, if you go on the Lie-Nielsen site where they have the inlay tools and if you click on the highlighted & underlined names of the Straight Line Cutter and the Radius Cutter, you will see a close up of both cutters. They can be made with small triangular files.

The radius cutter has a triangular cut right in the middle. Then both sides of the "V" are beveled on either side. It's the same thing with the straight line cutter, except there are 3 cutting points that make a "W".

Hope that helps! said...

I just received Steve's DVD (seems the tools are on back order) and can't wait to see what you learned.

I've built inlay tables in the past but nothing this involved so I'm going to have to try it out!

The Village Carpenter said...

Awesome! I hope you like it. And thanks for the reminder--I had forgotten that I wanted to order Steve's video. Thanks!