Inlay decor dates back as far as the Egyptian pharaohs, and it was later revived in the 16th and 17th centuries in Holland, France and Italy, where it was referred to as intarsia. Today, with modern tools making it possible for people to create inlays themselves, inlay decor is again flourishing. Inlays are designs that are incorporated into a hollowed depression in a material. This material is usually wood, but it could also be shell, stone, metal or pretty much anything you prefer. Turquoise is a popular inlay filling option, and powdered turquoise makes it easier to use than blocks of turquoise.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Wood, or any material you plan to inlay
- Multiple pieces of paper
- Tack, clip or tape
- Inlay or pocket knife
- White chalk
- Router with adjustable base
- Dust mask
- Powdered turquoise
- Epoxy resin or cyanoacrylate (CA) glue
- Sanding block
If you plan on inlaying powdered turquoise into the natural cracks found in your wood piece, disregard the first four steps. They include directions on how to create an original inlay design.
Draw your designated design onto a piece of paper, using a pencil. Make multiple copies, in case you mess up on the original. Cut out the design.
Place the design on the wood, or your choice of material, and hold it in place using a tack, a clip or tape. Use the knife to carefully carve into the wood around the outline of your design. Once the outline is finished, carve any other lines in the middle of the design. After you take away the paper, outline the knife carvings with chalk for more precision.
Decide how deep you want the inlay to be, and then adjust the base of the router to that designated depth. After putting your dust mask on, rout inside the knife carvings, making sure not to rout further than the chalk lines.
Mix the powdered turquoise with epoxy resin or CA glue until the powdered turquoise sticks together. How much you use depends on the size and depth of your inlay.
Fill your inlay with the turquoise mixture. In tight areas, use tweezers. After allowing the mixture to settle and dry inside the inlay, use a sanding block to wipe away any scratches or rough edges.
Tips and warnings
- Take your time with precision. The more patient you are with drawing, outlining, carving, routing and sanding, the better your final project will look.
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