Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Simple Diamond Shaped Inlay Using a Hand Router

Inlay Without Power Tools

I am currently putting the finishing touches on a metamorphic chair. This chair converts from a chair to a set of 4 steps. Each step has a diamond-shaped inlay which was fairly simple to put in place. All that is needed is:

  • Blue tape
  • Sharp knife
  • Chisel (optional)
  • Router plane preferably with a spear point bit
  • Glue 
  • Sandpaper

The black corners are to be removed.

The taped side is actually the show side

Chisel cuts made over a scrap piece of wood to cut to shape

The inlay is placed tape side up. Label the piece, if needed, so that the orientation stays the same

Two pieces of blue tape hold the inlay in place.
 Ensure that it does not wiggle.

The first few knife passes are with a feather touch.

Progressively stronger force is used. but always fairly light. Ensure that the knife cuts are deeper than the thickness of the inlay.

After knife cuts are made along the edges without tape,
 switch position of the tape to the opposite sides.

Router plane (Veritas model) 
Four minute video detailing the routing out process. 

Test fit the piece


Clamps. Place waxed paper under cual.

Card scraper to remove tape from center outwards. This avoids catching the protruding edge of the inlay

150 and 220 grit sandpaper

Routing out mortises for hinges could use a similar technique.


  1. I like the details of your process but you don't explain the source of the original inlay. I can also suggest that hide glue can simplify this method

  2. The inlay was from ebay, 3 bucks and change each from Acute Marquetry. I was going to make my own again, but couldn't resist with such a fair price. Many of the original cabinetmakers bought many of their veneers.

    While not authentic for the period, PVA glue has worked fine for me especially for small inlays. There are all sorts of glue options for veneer.