Introduction: Router Inlays With a Guide Bush and Collar

Picture of Router Inlays With a Guide Bush and Collar

Using a router for inlays can be both fast and accurate

The easiest method is to use a guide bush, with a collar (that adds twice the cutter diameter to the guide bush when installed) and a single, external template

You could also use two guide bushes which differ in diameter by twice the cutter diameter, or a single guide bush with two different sized templates

I'm using a dedicated kit, made by Trend, which includes cutter, guide bush, and collar

The video is worth watching, if only to demonstrate how quick the process can be.

Step 1: Initial Setup

Picture of Initial Setup

Install a cutter. A down spiral cutter will help keep the edges tidy

Attach the guide bush

Make a template of the shape you wish to inlay. Remember, due to the collar and guide bush, the template hole will need to be oversized all round by one half of the collar diameter minus the cutter diameter. The template material must be at least as thick as projection of the guide bush below the router base

Step 2: Routing the Inlay Pocket

Picture of Routing the Inlay Pocket

Install the collar on the guide bush

Clamp the template in position

Zero the cutter on the work piece

Set the depth of cut limit to the depth you want the pocket. In most cases, make this a little less than the material you plan to inlay, as the inlay can then be planed or sanded flush later

Start the router, and remove all the material to create the pocket. For large areas, you could first rout around the edges, and in any tight areas, then swap guide bush and cutter for a larger cutter, and remove the central area freehand

You should be left with a nice clean inlay pocket

Step 3: Routing the Inlay Patch

Picture of Routing the Inlay Patch

First remove the collar from the guide bush

Use double stick tape to hold the thin inlay material flat and secure

Clamp on the template, aligning any grain or figure as required

Position the router so that the guide bush is tight against the inside of the template, and set the depth stop so that the cutter will just go right through the inlay material.

Start the router and plunge straight down

Keeping the guide bush tight to the inside of the template, move the router around the entire perimeter

Lift the inlay patch away from the double stick tape

Step 4: Final Fit

Picture of Final Fit

Because of the round cutter, and the round guide bush and collar, tight corners get rounded off

Use a sharp knife or chisel to chop in the tight corners to fit the patch to the pocket

Alternatively, use a file or sand paper to round over sharp areas

Step 5: Finish Off

Picture of Finish Off

Apply adhesive to the inlay pocket

Insert the inlay patch

Clamp and allow to cure

Flush the surface with a plane, card scraper, sander, etc. if desired

That's it!

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gibb3h (author)2016-11-07

Hi, do these inlay kits come by some other name? I've been trying to find one in the UK and having a lot of difficulty! Only place I can find then are on eBay shipped from the US :(

gibb3h (author)gibb3h2016-11-08

Thanks folks, I'll have a look, prices are inflated as usual in the UK!

WOmadeOD (author)gibb3h2016-11-08

Trend sell this kit on their online site, search trend routing technology. I suspect there are others available too.

Jamaro (author)gibb3h2016-11-07

Stick "router inlay kit" in and you will get lots of returns

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