How to Inlay Turquoise in Mesquite Wood

Written by autumn birt
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How to Inlay Turquoise in Mesquite Wood
Pieces of natural turquoise can be crushed or inlaid whole into wood. (turquesa image by Jordi Martí from Fotolia.com)

The deep lustre of mesquite can be beautifully accented with inlaid turquoise to create a stunning work of art. The technique takes time, but once mastered can create one-of-a-kind pieces. Inlay can be achieved using carved channels, custom niches for natural-shaped stone, or by using natural crevices in the wood.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Mesquite wood
  • Turquoise stones
  • Stone or metal powder
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Wax
  • Artist brushes
  • White Spirit
  • Q-tips
  • Dremel Tool
  • 4-inch orbital grinder or a random orbital sander

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Sand the mesquite wood to a smooth finish. Carefully draw two parallel lines where the channel will be cut into the mesquite.

  2. 2

    Carve the channel to a depth of at least 1/8th of an inch using the Dremel tool. The carved edges should be abrupt, not rounded.

  3. 3

    Brush wax on the wood being very careful not to get any into the carved channel. Remove any wax that runs into the channel with white spirit applied with a Q-tip.

  4. 4

    Place large stones in the channel first. Apply a dab of the cyanoacrylate glue to the back of the stones to tack them into place once arranged in a pleasing pattern. Allow the glue to dry before continuing.

  5. 5

    Place smaller stones between the larger pieces until the channel is as full as possible, tacking them into place using the cyanoacrylate glue. Allow to dry overnight.

  6. 6

    Fill any remaining cracks between stones with stone or metal dust. Shake the wood gently to settle the dust and then refill. Coat the stone dust with the cyanoacrylate glue until the dust in saturated. Allow to dry.

  7. 7

    Sand the stone inlay using the 4-inch orbital grinder or the random orbital sander, being very careful not to hit the wood. Grind the stones down to near the surface level of the wood; go slowly so as not to dislodge stones. Use a fine sandpaper to finish the sanding process and to bring out the shine of the stones.

  8. 8

    Fill any holes missed by adding more crushed stone and cyanoacrylate glue. If large stones were dislodged during sanding, tack back into place with the glue, allow to dry, then fill with stone dust and glue once again until the area is filled.

  1. 1

    Sand the mesquite wood to a smooth finish. Carefully draw the outline of the piece of turquoise that will be recessed whole into the wood.

  2. 2

    Carve the outline of the turquoise stone to a depth of at least 1/8th of an inch using the Dremel tool. Check the fit of the stone frequently to ensure fit and so that you do not over cut the wood. It is OK if the piece of stone is above the surface of the wood. The carved edges should be abrupt, not rounded.

  3. 3

    Brush wax on the wood being very careful not to get any into the recess. Remove any wax that runs into the recessed area with white spirit applied with a Q-tip.

  4. 4

    Place the turquoise stone into its recess with a coating of the cyanoacrylate glue on the back. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

  5. 5

    Sand the stone if desired or the stone can be left natural, rising above the surface of the wood. If sanding the stone, use the 4-inch orbital grinder or the random orbital sander, being very careful not to hit the wood. Grind the stone down to near the surface level of the wood; go slowly so as to not dislodge the stone. Use a fine sandpaper to finish the sanding process to bring out the shine of the stone.

  1. 1

    Sand the mesquite wood to a smooth finish if needed. Brush wax on the wood, being very careful not to get any into the crevice where you will set the stone(s). Remove any wax that runs into the crevice with white spirit applied with a Q-tip.

  2. 2

    Place smaller stones between the larger pieces until the crevice is as full as possible, tacking them into place using the cyanoacrylate glue. Allow to dry overnight.

  3. 3

    Fill any remaining cracks between stones with stone or metal dust. Shake the wood gently to settle the dust and then refill. Coat the stone dust with the cyanoacrylate glue until the dust in saturated. Allow to dry.

  4. 4

    Sand the stone inlay using the 4-inch orbital grinder or the random orbital sander, being very careful not to hit the wood. Grind the stones down to near the surface level of the wood; go slowly so as to not dislodge stones. Use a fine sandpaper to finish the sanding process to bring out the shine of the stone.

  5. 5

    Fill any holes missed by adding more crushed stone and cyanoacrylate glue. If large stones were dislodged during sanding, tack into place with the glue, allow to dry, then fill with stone dust and glue once again until the area is filled.

Tips and warnings

  • If the recess for an individual stone is cut too big, stone or metal dust can be used to fill in any cracks as in the other two techniques.
  • Stones and dust can be dislodged during grinding and sanding. Wear eye and hand protection.
  • The curing of cyanoacrylate glue releases heat and toxic fumes. Use adequate ventilation.

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