Doing Inlay's...a couple of questions

Hiya, Considering adding inlays to my toolbox of skills. I've never done them before so have a few questions. I see David Mark's approach on DIY is to cut them with a scrollsaw and rout out the receiving wood with a 1/16" router bit. I'm wondering if other's use a different approach (ie. dremmel tool to remove waste, coping saw to cut the inlay etc....). I'd very much like to try this but don't want to pony up to buy a scrollsaw that will probably get used twice a year. And quite frankly, the thought of using my router to do intricate work like that scares me a bit :)
Cheers, cc
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A good tradeoff between new and expensive scroll saw and coping saw would be an older model scroll saw, i bought two early 1950's 16" delta scroll saws this summer (one for me and one for my sister) for a combined total of $40 plus extra $5 for new blades. I'll likely only use it, like you mentioned, a few times a year, but for the money the saws work well and are a good buy. Using a full size router may prove to be difficult on smaller inlays, but a laminate trimmer just might be the ticket. like this- (Amazon.com product link shortened)01163275/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/104-5461938-0912743 They are easy to handle small routers and accept almost any 1/4" router bit. Keep in mind these do not have a plunge base. Also BE ADVISED! I have not personally used one of these to do inlays. In fact, I've only inlaid two smaller projects in which i just used a utility knife and sharp chisels. But I thought this info may help. --dave

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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 10:13:54 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

Coping saws work just fine, but I hope you have a router base for the Dremel. Inlay works best with a flat field, though it's been done by hand for thousands of years. A Stanley #271 router plane might help there, with a very small iron installed. It depends on the size of the inlay piece you're routing out.
http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan14.htm
Bottom line: Yes, you can do it with hand tools. Give it a go.
P.S: Guess how long a 1/16" router bit lasts in hardwood before smoking/melting down? ;) (No, I've never used one that small. I can smoke 1/4-inchers just fine.)
-- Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Turkey and Drive --
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 10:13:54 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

Try to find the Zachary Taylor book "Decorative Inlay"

This works. The "router" is a Dremel with a clamp-on base.
Often the scrollsaw technique is done in veneer as Boulle (or Buhl) work. You saw two contrasting veneers together, then swap the pieces around and veneer with them as if it were marquetry. If you're good, you can do it with brass, nickel silver, or abalone shell too.
Some of the best inlay work (and easiest) is done by inlaying commercial bandings. These are long thin straight lines, so you can prepare the ground for them with a scalpel to cut the edges and a #271 mini-router plane to level the ground (useful little tools - get one, and get a spare blade too so that you can grind it narrower).
Scroll saws are pretty cheap these days. It wouldn't hurt much to have one, even if you use it rarely. Spending more buys you less vibration. Make sure that it can accept unpinned blades (many take both, with a couple of converter clamps). It will also need to be a parallel action, not a "rocking C", if you want to do inlay work.
Glue is important - I don't know anything to beat hot hide glue.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Thanks folks for the advice.
As for the router he uses, he uses a full size plunge router. Dewalt I believe. Personally I could see the dremel being easier than a full size router for fine detail like inlay.
I personally like the idea of doing them by hand though so might just look into that first. Cheers, cc
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 22:07:12 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

What sort of size is he working ? I can see that for installing ready-made oval cartouches (for production work a template and guide bush sounds sensible) but I can't imagine doing this on really small work, or anything that is needing a scrollsaw to shape it.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Yeah, he uses a full sized router for the small stuff. Not sure if this will show up very well, but check out http://www.diynet.com/diy/ww_decorative_furnishings/article/0,2049,DIY_14441_2276552,00.html
Down the page it shows the router at work although it's a small pic and crops most of the router out. I'd agree with you Andy that for tight shapes, I need to go another route. Cheers, cc
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There's a small book called, The Art of Inlay, by a reknown artist in the guitar circles. The book is concentrated on inlaying guitar necks and pegheads (if that's the right term) but it's certainly applicable to other uses. He uses a fretsaw and dremel type mini-router.
Ahh, here it is:
<(Amazon.com product link shortened) />01192514/ sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-5218502-6866404?v=glance&s=books>
And another that will knock yer socks off with the skill and artistry:
<(Amazon.com product link shortened) />01192514/ sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/002-5218502-6866404?v=glance&s=books>
--
Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 10:13:54 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

I cut mine out with the bandsaw, leaving a little extra all the way around until I've got the recieving (mortise?) excavated. When I've done this, I just use a couple of good sharp chisels, and pare small curls of wood away very carefully, and check frequently. For curves, I'm sure a scalpel would work nicely, but an X-acto knife works ok too. I like to leave the inlay a little thicker than the mortise so that I can scrape the smaller inlay down, rather than trying to get the entire piece down to the level of the inlay. I haven't tried out the Dremel for this yet- I've had one for years, and I've never found it to be any good for cutting wood, but I may just not have a light enough touch.
Good Luck!

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