Inlays… (1): A Makers Year 54

Hurry hurry hurry… I miss this!  I miss the adrenaline of hard commercial deadlines. Running a teaching workshop after nearly 40 years making furniture is, in comparison, slow and steady. And it needs to be – speed is a killer when you are learning. An amateur has the advantage over us in that she can take all day to get it right. (We can only get it right first time, or go broke…) However, speed and skill do go together. This is when it is a joy to be a part of a humming productive workshop. Tata, ta, Tata ta, TA, TA, TA.

So making and designing has to fit together, and this is an example of that process. In the workshop at the moment, we have a drift of Macassar Ebony flowers to inlay across a table.  (See A Makers Year 52 for insight into the original drawing and the problem in front of us.) A lot of expensive work and expensive materials such as beautiful Burr American Walnut have been used on this table top, so the inlay is risking a lot if we get it wrong. But that’s what creative work is all about. After all, we could easily have left it, but we didn’t.

[Tweet “”The inlay is risking a lot if we get it wrong. But that’s what creative work is all about.” @DBSavage #woodwork #design “]

The flowers were first of all enlarged to full size using a projector on my studio wall. Then I drew around each flower to keep the ‘free hand’ that is so important – enlarging and tracing can lose so much vitality.

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This is Daren’s workings

We aimed to use two flowers, making the four petals in each flower with eight router templates. That’s if we use a router with a template ring fitted – this enables Daren to make petals to my design and lay them out on the table.

Below is one of the templates used to create both the petal and the recess in the table top:

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And these are some of the first petals cut out of the Macassar Ebony veneers:

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With the petals laid out I can position the first two flowers on the table exactly and Daren can use the same template with a different template ring to route the table.

The result? An exact fit, with no great risk to the expensive table.

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This shows an early layout before we began routing the table… We were not quite sure at this stage if it was going to work – BIT OF A WORRY! (Stay tuned for the next installment tomorrow…)


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