Basic Wood Inlay

Introduction: Basic Wood Inlay

My name is Tommy P, I'm a woodworker, a Vlogger and creator and host of The Shavingwood Workshop ...

For someone who has never attempted any type of inlay work this can be a very intimidating task.

But with a little bit of patience adding inlay to your next project can be very easy and certainly rewarding.

Step 1:

For this inlay I choose a simple diamond shape, cutting it out of a piece of Maple that was a 1/8 of an inch thick.

Step 2:

The first thing I needed to do is determine the exact location and position I wanted the inlay to be.

Step 3:

Once I determined this, using a pencil I traced the outline of the diamond.

Step 4:

With the pattern traced I use my exacto Knife and cut the outline of the pattern, staying to the inside of my pencil lines. This part should take time, a lot of patience here remember it's not a race.

Also when I cut this pattern I make several very light cuts slicing the full length of my line each time, well keeping the blade of my knife vertical. I will repeat this until I reach the depth I desire.

Step 5:

Once I have established my knife line, I can then remove the waste material to the inside of my lines.

Using my chisel I will gently pair into the waste material towards my cut line carefully removing just a small amount of material around the entire inside parameter until I have creating what is essentially a small trench.

Step 6:

At this point I can now remove the remaining waste material. Taking my time pairing out just a small amount at a time, until I have achieved a smooth level base. In depth this should allow for the insert piece to sit just proud of the surface when installed.

Step 7:

When checking the fit of the insert material do not push this material into the recess, you may not be able to get it back out.

Once I verify a good snug fit I can then glue the insert material in, then apply clamping pressure until the glue is dry.

Step 8:

After the glue has dried I use my card scrapper and level the insert material to the surface, then a quick pass with a smoothing plane and apply some finish.

This is a really easy way to add great inlay accents to whatever project you are working on. The biggest thing to remember when doing inlay is patience, the more time you put into work like this the more it shows in the finished results.

Step 9:



    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    17 Discussions

    I'm planning to do some inlay and your instructable certainly took the fear away.


    farmer grey.jpg

    Thank you so much for the inlay instructable!! I can't wait to try it! It really doesn't look difficult but it does seem time consuming. I suppose a job well done takes time if my inlays look good I will post them. I'm new to woodworking and I'm trying to learn new things to try I've made my loft bed and a corner media cabinet. Well, they are quite done yet, I've made the main part, now I just need to pretty them up. Lol. My loft bed needs a headboard, which I keep changing, and I want to put doors on my cabinet but easy doors. I'm also want to continue the cabinet across the two walls so I can put my books, video games and the other usual stuff people put on their media cabinets. Well thank you again for a great instructable. Here is the cabinet I'm making, if you have any suggestions about doors please feel free to let me know. My son calls me Buxton from the PeeWee's Big Adventure so my guard rail for the loft bed will say Buxton. Now that you showed me how to do inlays, I may put a couple on the side of the bed. I'm also thinking of adding a couple of inlays to the doors I want to make for the cabinet. I'm only putting doors on the bottom, the part with the 3 cubbies will stay open or I may just make little door frames with speaker cloth in the middle so my Dish box, Apple TV, etc...won't get so dusty but at the same time get the air they need to not overheat.


    Hou van wat ek sien! Gaan dit probeer.

    NIce explanation, useful for beginners. Maybe something like that could go in the next level woodworking class.

    Neat work, Inlay theold way. Concise instructions.

    Very nice inlay. And like already stated, when you are tracing any part for an inlay, use a very sharp knife. It allows you to get extremely close to the actual inlay for a more accurate cut. The pencil has a pencil tip's width that can make the finished cutout effort too large. But you did a great job.

    Cool! Here's a little tip: put a tiny dab of super glue on the inlay piece and temporarily glue it to the main part. Then trace around it with the knife. Knock it off when you're done. Much more accurate pocket for your inlay. ;)

    3 replies

    Won't the superglue stick too much to the inlay and break it when you knock it off?

    That's why I said a tiny dab. Just enough to secure it while you score around the part.
    It's also helpful to mark the part and pocket so you know which way it goes in.

    I would love to make my own Greek backgammon set with in lays!

    1 reply

    That sound cool, but now I have to research Greek Backgammon. Sounds interesting.

    Thanks Tommy. I already have subscribed to your youtube channel, many months ago. Jonesy at

    -Belo trabalho. Seus móveis tem estilo!


    This is really cool. I will certainly try this. Thank you!

    Nice, clear instructions. Thanks.