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In addition to a quality inlay template, there are a handful of tools you'll need to use in order to build any router based inlay. As the name implies a router, specifically a router equipped with a plunge base, is a requirement. While it is possible to use a fixed based router to build inlays it's highly discouraged. The plunge base is far and away the best way to create an inlay.
Because we're working with wood you'll need to do some sanding. An RO Sander and some sort of rotary grinding device, i.e. a Dremel, is also recommended. A shop vac is used to clean up debris.
Finally there are a few small hand held tools that are pretty useful too.
The plunge router is the tool of choice when it comes to cutting material for an inlay. We recommend a plunge router with a variable speed control, Plexiglas base so you can see through the base, and one equipped with a light to illuminate the work area.
When working with wood there is always sanding involved. You can get away with using a sanding block and sandpaper but we recommend an RO Sander. We recommend a light-weight hand held Random Orbital sander that has dust collection and a variable speed.
A rotary grinder is useful when fitting inlay pieces into their voids. The grinder removes dust and debris from the edges of the inlay making it easier to fit into the void. Multiple sizes of sanding drums are useful to help get into the various corners of the inlay piece.
The plunge router needs to be equipped with a brass inlay kit to build router based inlays. The kit comes with a bushing that gets put on the bearing when cutting out voids, the bushing is taken off when cutting inlays. The whole point of the bushing is to properly position the router bit when making cuts.
When working with wood only one thing moves during the cutting process, in this case it's the plunge router that does the moving. To keep the material being worked on from moving a pair of quick release clamps are my clamps of choice. You can use other clamps but the quick release clamps are the best fit for this job.
Router bits, just like every other woodworking tool that cuts wood, gets dull after prolonged use. If you're struggling with cutting voids or inlays then it might be time to replace the router bit. A 1/8" down cut spiral bit is used by the router.
To hold the inlay material against the backing material and the template to the inlay material double sided tape is used. Shurtape makes the best tape for this purpose. It's cost effective and can be easily removed after making the cuts.
The sanding drums used by all grinding devices are pretty small. That means you have to replace the abrasion disc on a fairly regular basis. Purchasing sanding drums in bulk is the way to go.
Other useful hand held tools include scissors to cut the double sided tape. A soft mallet to tap inlays into their voids. A pick with a sharp point to remove the vinyl from the double sided tape. A paint scraper is useful for removing templates and inlay materials from the backing materials.
Other items needed to build router based inlays include glue, finishing materials (we LOVE Tung Oil) sanding discs, and of course wood supplies.