How to make burr inlays

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Marking the recesses

1. The squares were numbered and used to mark the recesses in the tabletop accurately. Initially, I held the squares in place with one hand while I marked round them with the other, but after the first one I felt that there was a possibility of movement which would ruin the job.

Clamping the inlays

2. To prevent any further movement, I decided to clamp the remainder of the inlays in position while I proceeded to mark them. The scalpel was held at an angle to ensure the cut was always at the edge of the square.

Removing the waste

3. The bulk of the waste from the recesses was cut out with a router and a straight cutter. The depth of cut was set slightly less than the thickness of the inlays and the fence was used to control distance in one direction. All I had to do then was make sure I plunged in and out in the right places.

Using a chisel to square off

4. That done, the remainder of the recess was cut by hand with a 11⁄2in paring chisel. The edge of the chisel was located in the scalpel cut and tapped down with a mallet to give a nice clean, accurate edge.

Chamfering the inlays

5. Each inlay was removed from the airing cupboard and offered to its recess. Any adjustments necessary were made with a block plane to ensure the bottom face fitted cleanly into the recess. To avoid a glue line, PVA glue was applied just below the top edge of the recesses

Using a mallet to tap in the inlays

6. A wooden block was placed over the inlays, which were driven home with a mallet and then the glue was left to cure. As a result of their time in the airing cupboard, the moisture content of the inlays was less than that of the tabletop and, in due course, they will swell slightly to ensure a continuing tight fit.

Sanding the inlays

7. The inlays finished slightly proud of the top surface so they were planed down with a fine-set smoothing plane, then scraped and sanded flush with the tabletop.