Filling Wood Defects With Inlay




About: I love woodworking and making fun stuff on the lathe, I really enjoy making stuff and posting it on this website, and I love the Hobbit

I had this 14" round Silver Maple. The wood had a few really nasty cracks and the pith was going through the side. The pith was also rotted out. I didn't want to scrap the piece of wood because just from looking at the outside, I could tell that there was spalting, rot, and a lot of figure in the wood grain. So I planned to turn a platter and that's when I played around with inlay materials. Let's get started!

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Step 1: Turning

I turned a platter out of the wood. Follow all the safety guidelines for operating a lathe and make sure your always working with sharp tools...and no roughing gouges! It's all bowl gouge work from here on. Once I finished shaping the bowl and making finish cuts, I power sanded with my close quarters drill and hook and loop 3" sanding pads. I sanded from 150 to 600. This was kind've stupid because I should have waited until after I finished inlaying all the defects and then sanded. So I wouldn't sand just yet.

Step 2: Inlay

I used a product called INLACE. I was really happy with this stuff but there are tons of other glittery things you could inlay. You just have to make sure that they are finely ground so they can fit into a crack. I've used finely ground coffee for defects in burls because it looks just like bark once it's sanded. I have used sawdust for filling voids, but I really don't like the way it looks.

Step 3: Filling and CA Glue

I set up all of my supplies on my workbench and made sure I have everything I need. I started by packing the crack with as much inlace that would fit in. Make sure it is tightly packed into all the cracks. I also found out that rubbing the glitter in the crack in the direction of the crack doesn't work too well. I poured a small mound of the inlace beside the crack and then rubbed it across it. Doing that packs more inlace into the crack. Once I had it filled, I slowly soaked the spot with THIN CA glue. Medium or thick/gel CA glue doesn't work for this because it doesn't soak in. I kept soaking the spot with CA glue until it flooded out and then I sprayed it with an accelerator. Because I sanded before, I didn't want to sand with the lathe on because that would mean I'd have to re-sand everything. So I locked the spindle on the lathe and power sanded the inlayed spots from 150 to 600. Be careful not to leave the sander in one spot, because you'll get flat spots. My platter was 14" so I wasn't worried about a small flat here or there. I just tried to make them rounded over as best I could so you couldn't see it or feel it.

Step 4: Finish

I finished with 4 coats of a waterproof and food safe Salad Bowl Finish by General Finishes. I really enjoyed doing this and am super happy with the result. I'll definitely think twice before throwing away a cracked piece of wood.

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3 Discussions


2 years ago

Nice, looks very much like the Big Leaf Maple from the west coast.


3 years ago

I love the look of the bowl, and the little splash of sparkle is a nice touch. Very cool!

1 reply