Inlay Advice

Can someone give me some tips or techniques or point me to a tutorial on the best way to perform an inlay on the GF. I want to cut out my veneer and then engrave the recipient wood to the proper depth and shape to accept the inlay piece so the end result will be relatively flush.


Well, I’m not an expert, but I’ll tell you where I would start. First off you are going to have to do some testing of your materials. You will need to test what the kerf is on your inlay cutouts so you can compensate, and then run a few tests till you get your engrave where you need it. Unfortunately there’s not a real shortcut for that king of project. I do know you want to take the time to make sure you compensate for the kerf, or you won’t get the fit you want. Good luck! hope it turns out great.


Definitely do some depth testing with the engraves, it varies quite a bit based on material.

You can use the stick on the calipers to get a fairly good idea of the depth of the holes, and then increase the number of passes or slow down the engrave and increase the LPI. :slightly_smiling_face:


So I assume I would put the veneer in the GF, put the pattern on top of it and cut it out then put the receiving wood in the GF, overlay the same pattern but this time take into account kerf and engrave to the proper depth. Have I got it about right?.

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I created the pattern in Illustrator for both the veneer and the receiving plywood and made adjustments before hand.

You’re going to need to expand the holes for the receiving wood a little more than you expect, or plan to clean out the engraves with a pick - the engraves require more adjustment than just for kerf…they tend to have a slight buildup on one side from the resins released from the burning.


Would doing a score line around the engrave help with this? I haven’t tackled real inlay work yet.

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It might…I haven’t tried it.

What you’ll notice once you start doing deep engraves for use as holes to insert other parts into, is that the air assist blows a metric ton of ash, resin and melty gunk onto one side of the engrave. (The one closest to the front of the machine.) Some of it redeposits and tends to kind of weld back together. Also, there is enough of an angle created by the profile of the engrave that fitting something cut
face side up directly into the hole requires a hammer and a few select cuss words.

For thicker woods there is something that helps if you remember to do it…if you mirror the pattern for the insert and have the widest part of the insert cut out of the bottom of the material, when you flip it over and put it in the hole, it’s going to fit just about right. That’s because the side view of a cut made by a laser looks a little bit like this:


Here is a rather long discussion about doing precision inlay. There are various techniques to consider and also ways to approach. I have finally settled on using the expanded stroke and then break apart to use the outer line as the cut for the inlay and the inner line to become the shape of the engrave.

Engraving on hardwood to put an inlay is tough because grain does not allow a flat surface. discovered that with my inlay compass rose.

You have test test on the material. It is a combination of speed and power resolution and number of passes. You don’t want to burn it too bad because soot builds up, but also don’t want to take forever.


Here’s @dannyc’s post that sums it up best for Inkscape.


Wonderful information here. Thank you!

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