Category Archives: Inlay

GDH at WIA

This week, I want to mention Woodworking in America (WIA). With my return as managing editor with Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), you know that I’ll be and teach at WIA. If you are a woodworker in search of basic skills, you should plan to attend. If you are experienced at woodworking, but are looking to up your game, you should plan to attend. My bet is that if you look at the woodworkers PWM has presenting this year, you’ll want to be there, too. (Registration is open, so now is the time to make the call. Pull the trigger and click here to sign-up.)

This year my classes are all over the map. I open the conference teaching a seminar titled, “Better Woodworking Through Proper Wood Prep.” MIllingThe most basic observation I can give you is that if you begin a project with warped wood, you will fight it throughout the entire project. You need to make sure you know the basics, so of course we’ll cover the basics and you can bet there is way more. I’ve spent 20 years milling wood for projects. I’ve learned a crap-load of tricks and techniques to make the work easier and to mill lumber that is bent, twisted and just plain gnarly. In addition to the basics, I’ll share how to read your stock, what corner to press and when to straighten twisted stock, cup up or cup down and what to do if your board sticks at the jointer. This one class can make your time in the shop better.

Another class I’m teaching is “Precision Joinery: In a Hurry.” In this area alone, you discover why you need to be a blended woodworker. 9The class description from WIA says it best, “No single hand tool, power tool or machine is best to produce all the requisite joints. To make parts as quickly and accurately as possible, you need to know what tool to use when.” I’ve got jigs that make my life in the shop easy and highly productive, but I also know when to turn to my hand tools. During the class we’ll look at a number of furniture joints and I’ll share my best techniques.

On Sunday at WIA, I have a three hour class on inlay based around Federal-style inlay. Be sure to attend “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification.” InlayIf you study inlay you’ll discover that each major city center had its own distinct inlay designs. One of the most famous (and often miscategorized) banding is the lunette inlay often associated with John and Thomas Seymour in Massachusetts. Every banding, inlay and patera is a clue to where the piece was built. Not only will we learn about different inlay and bandings, but I’ll demonstrate how many of these bandings are assembled. And before the class is over, you’ll be given the opportunity to make a sand-shaded fan that you can inlay into your project. So come ready to learn and ready to work, too.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Joinery, Routers, Uncategorized

Simple Fix for a Blown-out Banding

A_BasePhotoEdge banding  is a simple, low-cost addition to make doors and panels stand out, especially in pieces from the Federal period. Last week I showed how I added edge banding to my tall clock. As I trimmed banding flush to the panel and door, I flipped a corner area out which called for a repair. This week I’ll show a simple fix, then give you a couple ways to rout in string grooves to hide where the banding and veneer meet.

To trim banding flush, as you may expect, I use a router and flush-cut router bit with a bottom-mount bearing. I learned years ago that if you expect edge banding –  short pieces positioned so the grain runs perpendicular to edges – to keep from massive destruction, you better climb cut as you trim – you are trimming end grain.

IMG_0584As I worked on my tall clocks, I learned another valuable lesson; Cut straight in at your corners. I made a climb cut along the bottom edge of my door panel, and as I began the cut the bit flipped out part of the corner. If you push directly in at the corner – follow the mitered line formed at the corners – the pressure of the cut is such that your banding stays intact.

If you look at the photo above you may think that little bit of missing banding is not a big deal. In fact, there is a small piece gone from both mitered corner pieces. The left-hand missing piece is small enough to be hidden by a piece of stringing yet to come, but with the right-hand piece I was not so fortunate. Thus the repair.

IMG_0585I know I’m not providing any earth-shattering technique never seen before as I demonstrate this fix, but that is the point. Edge banding is easy to do, and edge banding repair is simple. (We are woodworkers, if it was difficult or hard we would not do it.) To fix this defect, draw a line with your pencil of marking knife then cut away a small piece of banding. If possible, undercut the edge as you work to make sure you get a tight fit with your patch.

IMG_0586Find a piece of leftover banding that has a similar grain match – this should be easy to do because all your banding pieces are cut from one or two pieces of scrap as shown in the previous post – then glue the patch in place. After the glue dries, trim the patch flush with your edge. Simple, huh?

Where your banding and veneer meet is where you plow the groove for stringing. I suggest a couple different setups depending on what tools you have available. If you have a guide fence to fit your router, install a 1/16″ straight bit in your router, position the bit so your groove splits the banding/veneer intersection then make your cut, as shown in the top photo below. If you do not have a fence that fits your router, then you need a guide bushing and a shop-made straight edge, as shown in the lower photo. For this operation, you need to calculate the measurement from the edge of your guide bushing to the center of your router bit, or how far from the intended groove you need to affix your straightedge in order to cut the groove at the banding/veneer intersection – off course, this depends of your bushing.

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This is easy-to-do woodworking with spectacular results. Give it a try. It works just as great on small boxes, too.

Build Something Great!
Glen

 

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Filed under Inlay, Jigs, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

From Veneer To Edge Banding

IMG_0350(A few weeks ago, I posted about veneer and how I purchased 2-ply crotch mahogany for my Egerton tall clock. This week, I’ll pick up from there as I begin tinkering with the base panel and door. If you want to better see the end results, click on the left-hand photo to open the image.)

My next step in building the panels is edge banding. To straighten the veneer edges and to expose areas to which my edge banding is glued, I turn to one of my router jig workhorses. IMG_0520There is nothing easier to use than a simple straightedge jig and a pattern router bit to get a dead-straight edge; Yes, the edge is only as straight as your jig. My jig is a 6″-wide piece of plywood with a 4″-wide piece applied on top – this particular rendition has pine on the top, but any wood or plywood works. After I build the jig, it gets a pass over my jointer to achieve that straight edge. From there I’m ready to work.

I marked my panel at 7/8″ from the edge, IMG_0521positioned the jig at the marks then clamped it in place. The extra 2″ of width allows easy clamping and any clamps are out of the way of my router base. I set my depth of cut to 1/16″, then routed the edge. After working all four edges – the bottom edge being 1-1/4″ to allow a matching 7/8″ after a moulding is attached – I was ready for banding.

Shop-made edge banding is way easier to work than commercially available paper-thin veneers, IMG_0573it’s easy to make and it is from scrap. These are all pluses when woodworking. After cross-cutting 6″-wide pieces to 1″ in length, I set up my table saw to rip 1/16″-thin strips. Make sure you do this using a zero-clearance table saw insert and a push stick of some kind. I also like a super thin blade for this, so I bought a 7-1/4″ saw blade that is dedicated to light work at my saw. Enough pieces were cut to wrap the door and base panel, along with a few extra.

Edge banding is wrapped around the field, IMG_0575but I also needed a few pieces for the top edge of the door that were longer due to the curved edge. I only need a few pieces, so I repeated the same steps with another piece of scrap. Those top-edge pieces require a bit of shaping to meet the profile. That meant many trips between the door and my sanders, spindle and disc. Spring clamps are great at holding profiled pieces as you fit additional pieces along the edge.

After the top-edge pieces are fit and the corners are trimmed, IMG_0581it’s time to glue the edge banding to the door. I contemplated hide glue for this, but my glue pot was  not hot and any hide glue I had was outdated or moldy. Not going to use it. I did have yellow glue, but I also had a bottle of Titebond “No Run, No Drip” glue. A shorter set time was good, so I gave the glue a try. I was surprised at how easy this glue is to use and how quickly it sets. I am very happy with the results. If you need a shorter setup time when gluing, I would try this product.

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Remaining edges are covered with the pieces ripped at the saw. Straight runs are too easy. Smear glue along the edge, slip a piece in place then add clamps. The glue sets up fast enough that I easily transferred spring clamps along the way. If you do not have a large supply of spring clamps, use blue tape. It works, too.

(Next week I’ll repair a damaged edge-banding corner, share a trick for perfectly matched mitered corners and install stringing in the door.)

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Inlay, Jigs, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock, Veneer

A Router Jig, or a Ingenious Method of Work?

A_BasePhotoThose of you who read this blog know my penchant for routers. My router, and a circle-cutting jig, made easy work of the inlay on my clock base, as shown at the left. Circle jigs are not used on every project. In fact, they are not used on most projects, but when you need one, it’s nice to have options.

Recently, I teamed up with Popular Woodworking Magazine for a new router-based DVD. “Router Joinery & Techniques with Glen D. Huey” is available as a DVD or a digital download. Click here to pick up a copy.

A_Router DVD CoverIn the DVD I talk about and demonstrate using circle-cutting jigs. There are jigs that replace a router base-plate and those that work with router bushings. These jig designs work in different ways so it’s good to have both in your shop. But there is a circle-cutting jig in your shop already and you may not realize it’s there.

Obviously, I used a circle jig to cut the groove at the center of the base for my white/black/while banding. (Not wanting to ruin my veneered panel meant no pin at the center on which to pivot my jig, so I made a plywood pattern of the circle, a large hole if you will, then ran my router – guided by a bushing – around the inside of my pattern to cut the inlay groove.)

I also used my router to cut the quarter circles for my fan inlay. At a 1 1/2″ radius, I could not use circle-cutting jigs as they are normally used. To make these cuts I drilled a hole in my router base then swung my router in an arc.

A_Veneer PanelI began with a veneered panel attached to front of my clock base. (I had my veneer bonded to a backer to make life easier. Bonding to a cross-grained back allows veneer to be worked and stored more like boards – no veneer softeners, newspaper layering or time lost waiting.) Before moving on, I used a straightedge and a pattern bit to create an area for edge banding.

A_PinPin placement was a snap. I used a Czeck Edge Birdcage awl to start my hole – really like this tool – then drilled for my pin. Measured 1 1/2″ from a 1/16″ inlay router bit toward the outside of my router plate, then drilled a hole the same diameter as my pin.

A_QuarterCutThe router slips right over the pin and because I was cutting in from the edge-band area, there was no need to plunge my cut. All I had to do was flip the router switch to the “on” position and rotate my router through the cut. A perfect 1/16″-wide, quarter-circle groove was made.

A_CutCompleteWith the grooves complete, I cut and installed my edge banding, installed stringing that straddled the veneer and edge banding to cover my seam and to define my fan area, then used my router again to waste away the fan area before installing the sand-shaded fans.

Is using the router plate as I did considered a jig? Is it an example of “out of the box” thinking? Or, is it a standard router technique?

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Inlay Tools With A Twist

IMG_0012 copyLast week I shared the two oval designs, one of which I planned to use on my tall clock. Which did I choose? I selected the oval drawn using Freddy Roman’s method from the Popular Woodworking Magazine article. The other oval looked almost pointed when routed. But with choosing Roman’s method, there was, of course, a problem.

If you have followed any of the work I’ve done with string inlay, you know that I prefer to use a heated pipe section to bend my string – I have tried to use a solder iron, but have found it much more difficult.

Take a look at the finished oval shown the photo above. Look closely at the round ends. Those ends are way smaller than any pipe section I have in stock. I shot over to my favorite hardware store for a new section, but found nothing acceptable. Was I resolved to use a solder iron and power through? Don’t think so. This is when they say you should think outside the box, so I did.

IMG_0009I went to my shop drill bit drawer and found a new method to bend small rounded sections of inlay. Could an old twist drill bit do the trick. I had to give it a try, so I locked the bit in a pair of vise-grips and heated away. Cool thing is that the bit – due to its size or to its solid body – was quicker to heat. That made the task that much faster.

I went about the bend just as I would using anyone of the steel pipes: wet my string pieces slightly, backed the bend using a piece of metal strapping salvaged from a lumber shipment that came to the shop, heated the bit then bent my string. Everything worked perfect. In fact, four bends later my inlay was ready to install. All I had left was to taper and fit the ends to try and hide the joint.

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If you have string work in front of you that has small tight bends, give this technique a try. It works.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Tall Clock Oval Inlay

The Egerton tall clock I’m working on has two small oval inlays set into the waist-section face frame, so this is a perfect time to discuss and evaluate ovals.

In the period, channels for inlay were scratched into the surface using a compass, or something similar tool. Today we can work with a variety of tools, both hand and powered, to plow our grooves – hand work with a compass or inlay tools available from LeeValley & Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, and, of course, a router if you wish to power-up the process. But before you actually get to that step, you have to design your oval.

For me, ovals have been pulled from some type of computer drawing program, such as SketchUp. In the August 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, Freddy Roman (periodcraftsman.com) wrote an article about the ellipse. More to the point, about false ellipses. What is the difference and why should you choose one method over the other? Here is my take on this. If you plan to scratch in your oval pattern, or to use a router attached to a trammel to swing an oval, You better understand and use false ellipses. If, on the other hand, you plan to make a pattern to guide your router setup, any old ellipse will do.

Which technique do I choose? That’s not as easily answered as you may think. Because I have my clock waist assembled just as shown in the opening drawing, I would be unable to scratch my ovals into position – in order to draw the flat arcs necessary to create the long sides of my ovals require that I set my compass point more than 5″ from the center of my oval and that area is not available. That, however, does not keep me from using Freddy’s method to develop my pattern which would guide my router. Another option would be to create a piece of veneer with the string inlay in place, then glue that veneer to my clock.

Let’s begin with a comparison of the two ovals. Above you can see a distinct difference in the two drawing methods. A false ellipse, shown on the left, has ends that are more rounded because a compass or inlay tool works on a radius. The oval on the right is drawn in SketchUp. It’s ends are more pointed and could not be grooved using hand tools alone.

I will refer you to Freddy’s article for the steps necessary to produce a false ellipse. (I worked through the layout for my ovals.) Here, I’ll share how I use SketchUp and Preview (a MAC program) to produce an oval. (Before MAC, I worked in Microsoft Publisher for similar results.)

The first step is to layout the perimeter of the oval you wish to draw, then use the Circle tool centered at the middle of your proposed finished oval. Pull the radius out to the long end of your oval – here that is the top and bottom of the oval.

Next, use the Scale tool to pull in one side of your oval. Repeat the step to pull in the second side, as well.

The last step in SketchUp is to export your drawing. (This process is shown with the drop-down menu.) The image is saved in a file on your computer.

Open your file in Preview or another similar program, then set the parameters to crop the image touching all four sides as shown.

Under the Tools menu in Preview, select “Adjust Size”, enter in your required size then click OK. (Note that the size shown is not the actual size I needed for my clock.)

After the size is established, click print. As the menu to print opens, you’ll notice there is an option that allows you to print to scale. Set the scale at 100 percent before you print.

You now should have an oval that fits to your required layout size. I take that print-out into my shop, cut it free then transfer the pattern to a piece of plywood to use with my router. Which design do I plan to use on my clock? I believe that when you are working with small or narrow ovals, your design should be a false ellipse because the other drawing process produces ends that are too pointed, almost unbelievable. However, when I work with larger ovals, I prefer the ends be not so rounded. What do you think?

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Design: Follow Your Gut

One of the very first large pieces of furniture I built to sell to the unsuspecting public was a Shaker cupboard. As I worked on the cupboard, built from an antique newspaper photo, I was unsettled with the crown molding. It was a single piece that was too small and nondescript. It didn’t feel right, but it was a piece of Shaker furniture so who was I to make a change.

I carried that cupboard from show to show way too long. When I built the piece a second time, I changed the molding to a village-appropriate design that better fit the cupboard. That cupboard sold at the second show. Was I lucky, or was the design an improvement? I learned to follow my gut.

This week I built a corner unit (shown above) that is to be used as a television stand. Being that the components kept inside the base are adjusted with infrared controls, and that glass was not a request from the future owner, I designed the doors with small openings. The gridded panels are made up of simple half-lap joints. Once assembled, the so-called panels are trimmed and fit into grooves in the door parts. I’ll have to let you know how or if the design works in real life.

The “follow your gut” part of this build has to do with the fluted columns. To the right is a photo showing the original idea I had for the columns. (This design I used on the cased openings throughout my house – when the house was built 20 years ago this idea was fresh.) I made the two columns, then temporarily attached them to the case to get a look. BLAH! Didn’t like that at all, so I needed something different.

I immediately thought about an inlay detail I used on an Arts & Crafts mirror built for Woodworking Magazine, issue #7. (You can download the SketchUp model here.) The detail was 1/8″-wide strips of ebony arranged in a simple design. Bingo, I had a design change. It’s easy to do and I think it looks good. Here are the steps if you want to give it a try.

Use a fence setup on your router to plow the grooves – I like to use an odd number of grooves to make the layout easy. Cut the center groove first, then with each adjustment your router is setup for two grooves, one from each side. (Stepped grooves add eye appeal.) Rip the thin strips of inlay at your table saw. I installed a 7 1/4″, thin-as-I-could-find saw blade to do the job. (Hey, ebony is expensive.) Wanting to tweak the fit, I left the strips a bit thick then used my inexpensive thickness planer  shown above to bring them to size.

With the strips properly sized, cut the lengths to fit your grooves. Here you’ll find a simple bench hook works great. I used small amounts of yellow glue to hold the inlay in place. After the glue dried, I decided to leave the inlay proud of the surface to add a little texture, too.

This is a simple process that I believe really adds to the overall look. It definitely looks better than the rounded flutes I had planned to use, as you can see in the photo below. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut when it comes to design. It’s only wood and nothing that cannot be fixed or replaced.

Build Something Great!
Glen

Here is a comparison look at the two fluted column designs. You have to agree that the inlay looks best.

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Filed under Design, Inlay, Routers, Shop Tips