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wobblycogs

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Once I've got the grooves I'll probably try inlay initially as Custard suggested. If that doesn't work then something like oil paint or enamel will be the next on the list, probably black milliput (as suggested by Spacecadett).

Out of interest anyone know where I could get a 1/8" to 1/4" reducer? I've searched high and low and can't find one in the UK. I'm surprised palm routers don't have 1/8" collects as a standard extra.
 

Woody2Shoes

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wobblycogs":189tlyj8 said:
... if I can find those tools in the UK though I think it's worth a shot....
Try Classic Hand Tools - they do both Veritas and Lie-Nielsen string inlay gear. Cheers, W2S
 

custard

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Inlaying is a way of adding real value to your furniture.

You don't have to spend a fortune; you can but you don't have to. Routing, the little Veritas cutter I linked to earlier, or a homemade scratch stock are all perfectly viable methods for groove cutting. And a homemade or cheap used "slitter" marking gauge can deal with the inlay stringing.

But you do need to be a precise worker, and to match your string thickness exactly to your grooves (you can do it the other way around but that's less reliable, plus it goes against a fundamental maxim of cabinet making, "first make the hole then make the thing that goes in the hole").

One good method is to cut your stringing a whisker oversize and then bring it down with a block plane, laying the heel of the plane on your bench and taking out very fine shavings until you get the perfect fit. You should put a pencil line along the "top" edge of the stringing as this method gives a slight taper to the stringing which helps with the fit, but obviously you then need to know which edge is "up".

There's a nice trick for cutting exact mitres on stringing using nothing more than a chisel. When I've finished my lunch and am back in the workshop I'll take a photo that shows how it's done.
 

wobblycogs

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Looks like I'm going to be learning some new skills :)

I've made a fair number of things but most of what I've built so far has been, shall we say, functional or perhaps robust. I think I can work accurately enough though.

After much searching I eventually found a 1/4" to 1/8" collet adaptor on ebay. It was only a couple of pounds so thought it's worth a shot, I suspect it'll have terrible run out though.
 

profchris

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A method I've used for lines, which is rather a bodge but works, is to use black ABS sheet. This is around 1mm thick for the standard A4 sheet.

Grooves are made with the corner of a cabinet scraper, running it along a steel rule. Then I cut strips of ABS, remove any burr and thin a fraction with the scraper, tap into groove and wick CA glue in. Looks really scabby once the glue dries, but levels quickly (scraper again). The CA swells the strip to fill the groove and the effect is good under French Polish.
 

wobblycogs

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I couldn't wait for proper tools to turn up so I went away and made myself a scratch awl.

Many moons ago, when I used to post around these parts more often, a generous forum member sent me a few lengths of old bandsaw blade. Turns out they were 1mm thick so perfect for what I need. I initially tried just using the sharp corner of the off cut which worked but the shaped version you can see in the photo which worked rather better. Now that I know it works I'll go to the trouble of hardening and tempering it because it loses it's edge rather quickly like this. I'll also need to make some sort of handle.

The inlay is a double thickness of some veneer I had lying around. It was a fiddle to get two bits in at the same time so I'll have to find or make some 1mm stock. I scribed a groove about 2mm deep and tapped the veneer home with a scrap of wood. It seems pretty well jammed in there but I'm guessing I should probably glue it in if I want the piece to last.

Many thanks for your help all. It'll be a fiddly job but this method should work and I've still got some other ideas to try.
 

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custard

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Chris raises some good points.

Personally I'd go a bit careful running a scraper down a steel rule, okay on a cheap metal rule but you don't want to use your best engineer's rule or a good straight edge. Some blades and scrapers are hard enough to take a shaving from the ruler's edge!

His point about ABS instead of the more traditional Ebony is a good one. Even with a sharp scraper or plane Ebony gives off a really fine dust that gets into the grain of pale woods like Holly or Sycamore and is a pig to get out. If I'm forced to do it I'll always lay down a few grain filling coats of blonde shellac on the pale timber so the Ebony dust can be wiped safely away.

Here's a way to thickness inlay strings and add a slight taper, you hold the end of the inlay with a finger and run the heel of the block plane on the bench.

Inlay-Thicknessing.jpg


Here's some Sycamore stringing taken down to 1mm. I don't want to give the wrong impression, you thickness to fit the groove, not to hit a specific number. By the way, these cheap plastic callipers are great for day to day workshop use, I keep the expensive Starrett callipers for special jobs and have these in an apron pocket.

Inlay-1mm.jpg


To mitre the ends of inlay at 45 degrees you look for a 90 degree reflection in the back of chisel, then push down vertically on the chisel.

Inlay-Mitre-Cutting.jpg


With a bit of practise you can do it bang on, time after time,

Inlay-Mitre.jpg


To mitre to length you keep a bit of scrap 6mm or 9mm MDF, position the stringing in the groove, glued at one end, and mark for the other end. Slip the MDF under the stringing and use the chisel trick to cut the mitre a whisker over length. Check again for length and then creep back on the cut with successive mitre cuts until it drops in to the groove perfectly.

Good luck!
 

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custard

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wobblycogs":3l6wzvog said:
The inlay is a double thickness of some veneer I had lying around. It was a fiddle to get two bits in at the same time so I'll have to find or make some 1mm stock.
The only time I cut inlay to final fit dimension is with cross grain stringing, but I wouldn't advise attempting that until you've got the long grain stuff thoroughly mastered.

If you're set up for cutting 1mm grooves then use 1.2mm stringing and thickness down to a perfect push fit with a block plane. The other advantage of the block plane is you can bandsaw off your veneers to 1.2mm or 1.3mm thick, and use the block plane to not only take it to final thickness but to also remove the saw marks at the same time.

The fit should be firm, but not too firm, when you apply PVA it'll swell a fraction and you don't want to be hammering it in! Like all these things, a written explanation makes it sound more complex than it is. Try it on some scrap, make a few mistakes, and before long you'll have it off pat.

Good luck!
 

wobblycogs

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Brilliant, thanks for all the help.

I think I'm going to have to buy some stringing (or thick veneer) as I don't currently have a bandsaw. As long as it's a contrasting colour though I don't really mind what timber it is.
 
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