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.