Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

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Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby laflippin » Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:01 am

Try gluing up a 1/4" thick hardwood blank to a piece of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood, then V-carve the male piece of your inlay into the hardwood side (0.1" start depth, 0.1" flat depth). Those parameters should leave 0.05" of backing when using a 1/4" thick blank but that almost never works out....hogging out the large areas almost always ruptures some part of that 0.05" backing, or maybe it turns out the blank wasn't exactly 0.25" thick in the first place, or....? and then male part of the project goes into the trash. And the upshot is, you end up buying more expensive 3/8" or 1/2" stock for making the male inlays, then milling off half of it.

The glued-on male "spoil board" has two nice advantages...(1) you can obviously use thinner, cheaper hardwood blanks and you wind up using more of the valuable hardwood for your project rather than milling it away. (2) as a recent convert to the procedure of milling off the waste backing with the CNC machine (under manual control, mostly) I've certainly noticed that a 1/2" dia end-mill breezes right through the quarter-inch, soft birch plywood backing much, much easier than it does with any of the typical hardwoods used for inlay.

Some will note that these laminate male blanks can warp a bit...but, another nice feature of this procedure is: The hardwood component of the laminate is thin enough so that the laminated blanks can be clamped down (4 clamps!) perfectly flat to the CNC bed. Then, after the male piece is glued into the female engraving any minor warping effect is again overcome by good clamping.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby Paul Z » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:06 am

Sounds like a good idea to me.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby highpockets » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:15 am

Nice tip. Thanks for sharing.

I've actually used it, but with out actually doing the glue up. I have a bunch of laminated hardwood floor left over from floors that were removed. The hardwood laminate is just about the right thickness and the backing laminated works very well for clamping and machining. Plus it's easy to remove after glue up.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby Xxray » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:21 am

Not a bad method, unless one specifically wants two nice hardwoods for the inlay, which
i do. I minimize waste by slicing off unnecessary thickness with a bandsaw, and between the bandsaw and drum sander, don't have the need to route out any waste. I have stacks of nice wood saved from waste, am a bit obsessive about it. Thats the main reason why I got rid of my planer, could not stomach the terrible waste.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby LittleGreyMan » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:56 am

Doug,

If I understand correctly, laflippin's method allows using very thin hardwood blanks for the inlay.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby Bobtail Farm » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:45 pm

laflippin wrote:Try gluing up a 1/4" thick hardwood blank to a piece of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood, then V-carve the male piece of your inlay into the hardwood side (0.1" start depth, 0.1" flat depth). Those parameters should leave 0.05" of backing when using a 1/4" thick blank but that almost never works out....hogging out the large areas almost always ruptures some part of that 0.05" backing, or maybe it turns out the blank wasn't exactly 0.25" thick in the first place, or....? and then male part of the project goes into the trash. And the upshot is, you end up buying more expensive 3/8" or 1/2" stock for making the male inlays, then milling off half of it.

The glued-on male "spoil board" has two nice advantages...(1) you can obviously use thinner, cheaper hardwood blanks and you wind up using more of the valuable hardwood for your project rather than milling it away. (2) as a recent convert to the procedure of milling off the waste backing with the CNC machine (under manual control, mostly) I've certainly noticed that a 1/2" dia end-mill breezes right through the quarter-inch, soft birch plywood backing much, much easier than it does with any of the typical hardwoods used for inlay.

Some will note that these laminate male blanks can warp a bit...but, another nice feature of this procedure is: The hardwood component of the laminate is thin enough so that the laminated blanks can be clamped down (4 clamps!) perfectly flat to the CNC bed. Then, after the male piece is glued into the female engraving any minor warping effect is again overcome by good clamping.


Splendid. Thanks.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby laflippin » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:44 pm

Exactly, LGM.

Even though my scroll saw is now sitting idle in a dusty corner of the shop, :x , I still wanted to use the big stack of thin hardwood blanks I had bought for it...

If I understand Xxray's point correctly he generally uses thicker hardwood blanks, bandsaws off the backing, and then reuses the other side of the waste for another inlay. Sounds good to me, with the caveat that I don't have enough resaw capacity on my cheapo bandsaw to do that very often. I've recycled waste backing material removed via the reciprocating saw+protective aluminum strips method, but lately have mostly switched over to milling off the waste with a 1/2" end mill because it just seems easier...

Xxray, I'm not sure I understand your other point, i.e., "unless you want to use two nice hardwoods for the inlay"... Most of my recent projects use more than one species of hardwood for the male inlay--these are just carved separately from different blanks and added to the female engraving in successive glue-up steps. The birch-backed thin blanks work just as well as thick blanks for this.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby martin54 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:53 am

I can see how this might be of interest to some, guess it comes down to how you buy your wood. I buy almost all of my wood from a local sawmill, I buy it as kiln dried tree slices so I am not buying PAR timber at specific sizes :lol: :lol: Because of that I have never thought to much about this sort of thing.
They sell by the cubic metre so I am always on the lookout for boards that are around about the thickness I generally use. What wood I don't use for the project it was bought for gets used for something else. I keep a box which has a lot of smaller offcuts in it that I can use if I need a smaller piece or something for an inlay.

So if I am doing an inlay then I will generally select a piece of wood that is about the size I need regardless of thickness & work from there :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby laflippin » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:53 pm

Martin....you've got Robert the Bruce AND a neighborhood sawmill? Doesn't seem quite fair, chap.
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby LittleGreyMan » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:00 pm

laflippin wrote:Martin....you've got Robert the Bruce AND a neighborhood sawmill? Doesn't seem quite fair, chap.

+1: absolutely not fair

(but I don't see the interest of machining Robert the Bruce)
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Re: Tired of wasting too much hardwood on inlay backings?

Postby martin54 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:09 am

Yes I have a place called "Scottish Woods" about 20 mins by car from me, in their showroom they have tree slices that are kiln dried, outside under cover they have air dried timbers :lol: :lol:

For a fee they will board your selected timber for you but that just means you get less & pay more :lol: :lol: Most of what I do uses small(ish) peices of wood so when I look through what they have any boards that have splits or cracks in are normally still very useable for a project & these boards tend to be a bit cheaper which is good for me :lol:
Because slices are never perfectly straight with parallel sides there is always plenty of peices for things like inlays & turning projects like making pens, a lot of what I use is about 19mm (3/4") thick finished size so I generally look for boards that are about 25mm (1") thick at the sawmill knowing by the time I have surfaced or thicknessed them they will be right size.

There is quite a lot of Countryside & farmland where I live & there are good opertunities to collect some timber for free but I have no way of boarding & drying it at the moment, been looking into building a small solar kiln in my garden but would still have the problem of cutting anything I collected into boards :lol: :lol:

So wood types I use most are those I buy from Scottish Woods who operate a sustainability policy & most of what they have to offer comes from Scotland, Oak, Elm, Ash, Hornbeam, Lime, Sycamore & Beech are always in stock, other woods such as Yew & Chestnut are often available & some woods like Cherry only seem to appear from time to time. I tend to stock up a bit on Yew when I see it, great wood to machine & while it is technically a softwood it has better properties than most hardwoods I can buy :lol: :lol: I have a decent dust mask so machining it isn't a problem.
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