Decorative inlays inlay kits
 Explore Your Creativity  Build A Heart

HeartEZ: The Perfect Introductory Inlay Kit

For just $19.99, shipping's included, you can get your hands on the HeartEZ template.  By following these instructions and using our template you'll cut three inlays and two voids while building a pretty cool heart.  Build a HeartEZ or two and you'll see how EZ it is to build an inlay.  At the end of the process you'll have the confidence and techniques needed to tackle any decorative inlay!

Get Your Tools and Materials

The tools, needed to build an inlay, are:

  • A plunge router equipped with a router inlay kit.
  • Double sided tape and scissors to hold things together.
  • A paint scrapper / putty knife to pry things apart.
  • Clamps to hold everything securely.
  • Sanding tools / materials because you are working with wood!
  • A chisel and a pic can come in handy too.

 

For materials you’ll need three pieces of wood with varying colors and grain
patterns. Minimum recommended dimensions for each species of wood are
3” X 3” X 1/4” thick. Wider and or longer is better so you have more surface
area to affix your templates!

 

For this inlay I chose to use Cocobolo as the focal point of my heart (the center). For the middle heart I chose a quilted Maple, and for the outer heart I’m using Red Heart.

 

For thickness you can use anything from about 1/8” to 3/8” thick. Much thinner and the material gets pretty fragile, much thicker and the material gets hard to cut.

Mark the Materials

Use the template to trace the appropriate heart
pattern on each material. When tracing the heart
don’t forget to “notch” where the alignment
marks are. Using the edge of the template, draw
the alignment marks on the inlay material so it
looks like a big plus.

 

For the center heart trace Pattern 1. You’ll cut
this piece out as an inlay.  This picture shows
both Pattern 1 and Pattern 2 traced on the
Quilted Maple which makes up the middle heart.

 

I drew both patterns on the middle heart
because it will have a void cut into it, get filled with a Cocobolo inlay, and then get cut out and used as the inlay for the Red Heart.

 

Draw Pattern 2 and Pattern 3 on the Red Heart.  Draw Pattern 1 on the Cocobolo.

Cut the Pattern 1 Void

After you Prepare Your Inlay Materials, Affix the Template to the middle heart material with Pattern 1 centered over the area you marked in the prior step. Make sure you use enough double sided tape
to hold the template in place during the routing process!!! Secure the assembly to the
workbench.

 

You're Cutting a Void in the base material (center heart) where the Pattern 1 inlay will
be placed. I like to cut the void first, when possible, so I can get use to the shape being
cut and how the router feels as I make the cut.

 

Because we are cutting a VOID put the bushing on the router inlay kit and set the
depth of the cut to be slightly shallower than the thickness of the inlay material.

Usually you don’t want the inlay to show all the way through the base material so
ensure the depth of the cut is at least 1/16” to 1/8” shallower than the thickness of the
base material.

Remove the Template

After cutting the void remove the template from the inlay material.

 

Use a paint scraper to wedge between the template and inlay material. Gently
pry the template from the inlay material. Use care when prying the template off.
Because the templates are made from a PVC material they have the strength and
flexibility to last a lifetime if cared for properly.  Excessive bending of the template
can cause it to break, use care when removing the template!

Cut the Pattern 1 Inlay

To Cut the Pattern 1 Inlay position Pattern 1 over the
area marked on the center inlay material. Using double
sided tape affix the template to the inlay material and
secure the entire assembly to the workbench.

 

Because you’re cutting an inlay, remove the bushing from
the inlay kit and set the depth of the cut to go all the way
through the inlay material

 

When cutting an inlay make sure the collar, on the
router base, remains in constant contact with the template
wall while routing. If the collar,loses contact with the wall
the piece will be ruined and will need to be cut out again!
So take your time while routing the piece especially when
navigating the point of the heart.

Glue the Pattern 1 Inlay in the Void

After cutting the inlay, use a paint scraper to pry off the template and remove the inlay from the backing material.  The inlay should still be held in place with double sided tape, if not you may need to re-cut the inlay.

 

With the inlay removed, Prefit the Inlay into the void cut in the base material.
You may need to do a little sanding to get a good fit. Don’t push the inlay to far
into the void or else you‘ll have a hard time getting it back out!

 

After the inlay is fit to the void, apply a little glue
and press the inlay into the void. Let the glue dry.

Cut the Pattern 2 Void

While the glue holding the Pattern 1 inlay dries you can cut the Pattern 2 void.

 

In a prior step you cut the Pattern 1 void into the middle heart base material.
Using the exact same techniques you'll now cut a Pattern 2 void in the outer
heart base material, Red Heart in this example.

 

Use the alignment marks to position the Pattern 2 void correctly.  Use double
sided tape to affix the template in place.  Because you are cutting a void make
sure the bushing is on the router inlay kit. Set the cutting depth to be shallower than the thickness of the inlay going into the void

 

After cutting the void remove the template and flatten the bottom of the void if
needed.

Sand Pattern 1 Inlay Flat & Redraw Alignment Marks

After the glue holding the inlay into the void dries you may need to sand it down to the same height as the base material.   The next step requires you to cut out the assembly using the same
technique used to cut out the inlay that was just glued into place.  If the inlay
extends above the base material it may interfere with the router busing during the
cutting process.

 

If you have to sand, there is a chance that the alignment marks will be erased by
the sanding process. Prior to sanding make sure you can recreate your alignment
marks if needed!  I like to extend the alignment marks to the edge of the inlay/base
material so I can easily recreate them if needed.   If you look closely at this picture you can see
the alignment mark on the edge of the board.

Cut the 2nd Inlay

Position Pattern 2 over the Pattern 1 inlay, using the redrawn alignment marks as a reference, and affix into place using double sided tape. Clamp the assembly to the workbench.  Use the same procedure you used to cut the Pattern 1 inlay to cut out the Pattern 2 inlay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because you’re cutting out an inlay take the bushing off and adjust the depth so the router will cut all the way through the inlay material.

 

After routing the inlay use a paint scraper to remove the inlay from the backing material.

Glue the Pattern 2 Inlay in the Void

Use the same techniques to prefit the Pattern 2 inlay into the void cut in the outer heart base material that was used to assemble the Pattern 1 inlay.

 

You may need to do a little sanding to get a good fit. Don’t push the inlay to far
into the void or else you‘ll have a hard time getting it back out!

 

After the inlay is fit to the void, apply a little glue
and press the inlay into the void. Let the glue dry.

 

After the glue is dried sand the inlay flat like you
did earlier.  Remember the alignment marks may
need to be recreated after sanding!

Cut the Pattern 3 Inlay

This is the third time you've cut an inlay so you should be getting good at it! Using the same procedures as before position the Pattern 3 cutout over the heart and affix into place with double sided tape.

 

Because you’re cutting an inlay remove the bushing from the router inlay kit
and set the depth to cut all the way through the inlay material.

 

Remove the template from the inlay material.  Prior to removing the inlay from the
backing material, smearing a little glue into the gaps and sand.  The sawdust mixes
with the glue making the gaps nearly invisible. This technique is discussed on the
Fit and Finish page.

 

After the gaps have been filled remove the inlay from the backing material.  I like to do a final sanding with 220 grit sandpaper followed up with a 320 grit.  I round over the edges using the 320 grit.  After the piece is sanded to your liking apply the finish of your choosing.  Personally I like to apply two coasts of Tung Oil followed up with a brush on polyurethane finish for all of my inlays, but feel free to choose whatever finish works best for you!

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