I’ve been really fascinated on inlay lately. Well, more correctly, I’ve been obsessing over inlay. I’ve wanted to try doing “Bolection Inlay” as seen on a number of Greene & Greene pieces for a while. I almost went to the G&G inlay class at the William Ng school this past year, but it just wasn’t in the budget at the time. Now it looks like he’s not offering it again this year, instead he has a regular inlay class planned. R A T S,
The Greene & Greene I’ve seen is mostly (all?) raised above the surface, and subtly carved / shaped. I’ve never done anything like this, but mu understanding of the process is that the individual pieces of inlay are sawn out and fit together on top of the paper pattern, then super glued together into one unit. The outline is then scribed onto the surface of the wood and a cavity is excavated using a tiny router bit. The neatest setup I’ve seen is this router base from William Ng that uses a Foredom flex shaft tool for power.
It’s not clear to me if the individual pieces are “carved” or shaped first — since they are being drizzled with super glue I can see some problem here. With metal and shell inlay pieces they are nonporous and the glue won’t affect things. In fact, with any inlay that will be flushed up after inletting it’s probably not a concern as the first step after gluing it in is to flatten it with coarse sandpaper. But with inlay that is carved first ant then wet with superglue it seems like it could interfere with the finishing. I can see two options (I’m just thinking out loud, I have yet to try this myself): Either glue in the uncarved inlay pieces, and shape them after gluing into the substrate, of apply an even coat of super glue so that becomes the base for the final finish.
I’m on the cusp of convincing myself to buy a few inlay tools (not much is required, mostly the base above) and giving this a try.
I’ve collected bunches of pictures from the internet to augment what I have in my books. Just recently I came across Jonathan W. McLean’s website, which shows some outstanding G&G inlay work. Well, all of the work looks spectacular, but the G&G inlay is what caught my eye. I’m only going to post pictures on one example, you should check out his site for more.