My Experimentation With Inlays

I was working on how to do inlays today and just picked a shape I thought would be a little hard.

I used 5mm underlayment and 3mm baltic birch.

The material I liked the best was the baltic birch. In both cases I think that is walnut, it is a little hard to tell as it was from a pack of unlabeled veneers.

I really like how the birch looks!

If there is an interest, I can explain further, but that will probably need to be in the Beyond the Manual.


Well, those are gorgeous! What kind of finish did you use on them? :slightly_smiling_face:


I did natural stain on both, then the one on our right also has polyurethane.


Please explain further!


I am not really sure what the line for having this moved. :-/

The general process was that I took a circle svg and an svg of something I thought would be fun, and sized them to what I wanted. I then tried out different settings until I achieved an engraving depth of slightly less than the veneer’s thickness I was using as an inlay.

The next step is to make the inlay itself. I converted the engrave to a cut, ignored the circle, and loaded in the veneer I wanted to use as an inlay. I recommend laying down some proofgrade material scrap to keep it from blowing around.

Applying the inlay - I simply smeared wood glue in the engraving and then worked the inlay into it. I used a rounded over bit of wood and leather to work the inlay in as well as tweezers and my hand.

The last part was the finish work. All I did was sand the entire surface with 220 grit until it was smooth to the touch and glue/dent free. I did a light “natural” colored stain and the used spray polyurethane. I think I did 3 coats, a light sand, and then a final coat.

Here is a closer up image!

I do want to really note that all I did was experiment, note in the first picture how many did not work. Also, I was not gentle either, I broke the inlays, but it did not seem to matter as long as I did not lose the parts. I also put a lot of dents while setting the inlay, but that was removed by sanding.


Well, it really came out great! A nice reminder to us all to not neglect the finish work if we want a quality product.


Thank you for sharing this!

And FWIW, I believe that the “line” for having a post moved to the Beyond the Manual is when the walk through shares customized settings (i.e. - anything other than the automagic proof grade settings) or goes in depth on how to use non-PG materials.

There may be other criteria, but I think those are the primary reasons. If I’m mistaken, you can be sure that someone will correct me soon :wink:


There’s a list of what moves stuff into “Beyond the Manual” in the FAQ now.


Ty! Yeah, I remember the settings thing which is why I did not add my settings.

Also, I am not sure specific setting would help much here as it will be different from one material to another and also different between the pro and basic.

I did use non-pg materials, but I did not give specific settings. Though that should not be an issue either.

I would have to give it some thought on how to do it with pg materials, the only issue is the veneer that glowforge sells is prefinished and has the tape on the back pre-applied

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Nice and tight!
For your first, you nailed it. :sunglasses: Nice layout too.

Doing a perfect inlay like you did where both surfaces are cut down together to match is better suited to the proofgrade hardwoods than their veneer ply. Trying to not cut through the ply surface is sketchy. Ask me how I know that… :grin:

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Haha, yeah, using the PG hardwoods are a lot easier than the PG plywood I imagine.

I’ve been experimenting with cheaper materials. The Baltic birch is something like $2.50 for a 12x12" sheet. Then the veneers were like $30 for an assorted 20 sq ft.

The baltic birch is one of my favority matials by far!


Yeah, I got a pack of those veneer too, a lot of neat woods! I had fun with my experiments, especially the fire.

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You may have seen this already, but Amazon has some 20x12" Baltic birch plywood for just under $3 a sheet. You’d have to cut it down a little, but you get more material for your money. I’m on my second box of 20 sheets now and have been pretty happy with it.


Or get 45 sheets of 12x12 for $60, with Prime shipping:

Good for basic users who don’t want to deal with cutting the 12x24 to fit.


Better overall deal, too. I’ll have to check that out when I’ve gone through my stock. Thanks!

This is what I got -


Here is another experiment -

I sanded this slightly too much though.