So I finished my first experiment with inlay yesterday, the end result was OK — not a good enough effort for an actual furniture project, but then my first dovetails weren’t ready for prime time either. (no snarky comments about my dovetails please!)
Thinking about the effort, there were some ergonomic problems that made this more of a struggle than it could/should have been. For both the sawing out and the excavating steps, some means of clearing the dust is a must so I can see the layout line I’m trying to work to. When I was sawing I got by with puffing the dust away, doing my Thomas the Tank Engine imitation (“I think I can…”). That worked, but I was on the verge of hyperventilating, to say nothing of it stretching my ability to do more than one thing at a time.
Another problem was working height. I had that sorted out OK for the sawing with the v-block setup I made, but I didn’t really have anything worked out for the routing step.
And finally the lighting was an issue, especially when routing out the cavity although it was an issue with sawing too. My eyesight has never been what you would call good, and as I’ve gotten older my prescription won’t work up close. I wear multi-focal contacts, which lets me get by for most things, but I still end up needing reading glass for detail work in the shop. And a 5X Optivisor for this kind of work. Sigh. I remember painting the buttons on cast lead Napoleonic solders that were only 3/4″ tall in high school.
So here is what I’m doodling as a solution, a bench riser that incorporates solutions for most of these problems.
Figuring in the height of my workbench and stool, I need a 12″ lift to get the work to the right height. The v-block for sawing will be removable, with a steel sub plate to attach it to the underside of the riser top and a fixture to hook up a shop vac. I haven’t figured out dust collection for the excavation part yet, although I have a couple of ideas about that. The choices are either a different base for the Foredom that includes dust collection (like the MicroFence Micro Plunge base), or if I can get the kinks worked out on the base I have I’ll make up a positionable hose holder.
The lighting I know what I want to do, but I haven’t found an affordable solution. What I want is a pair of gooseneck lights that attach to the sides of the riser, like the ones below from MSC. They have screw bases, a 30″ flex arm and a 700 lumen halogen bulb. But they are $130 each too. I want a $20 solution.
I think something like this would solve most of the ergonomic problems and make the inlay process go a lot smoother. I don’t plan to pursue this immediately, but certainly before I do anything with inlay again. In fact, the next time I try to do inlay it will be on a real project, so I’ll want to make sure it comes out as nicely as I can possibly do. Probably fairly soon, but today I have a box of glass that arrived that I need to turn into the panels for the Thorsen cabinet.