No announcement yet.

inlay for intarsia?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • inlay for intarsia?

    Is anyone familiar with how to do inlay for intarsia? I have done regular scroll saw inlay before, where the pieces are each about 1/4" thick, give or take; but with intarsia, pieces are routinely in the neighborhood of 3/4". In the past I have tried to cut VERY accurately, and despite my best efforts, there's always just that little amount of gap and it's driving me crazy!

    If you look at Kathy Wise's work, she seems to have it down, but for the life of me I cannot figure it out. Please help?

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I have not had the courage to try one yet and not sure how everyone does theirs. I was thinking of cutting my inserts on (an ever so slight of an angle) and have it perch just a bit higher than the main piece. Put them together and sand together. Sounds good. Maybe someone can tell us if it will work.

    Nicholasville, KY
    ​Excalibur 21"


    • #3
      With Intarsia work, you are not doing "inlay" in the true sense of the word as I understand the term "inlay". In intarsia, you are not "inlaying" the design into another piece of wood. You are cutting each piece out and using sanding, shaping, and if needed, raising shims to add the depth and dimension. To get the closest fitting pieces, you need to use thinner blades that will cut the wood you have. The bigger the blade, the bigger the kerf between pieces. You do not want to cut the pieces on an angle but with the blade straight otherwise, they will not fit together properly. When cutting, decide if you are cutting on the line, middle of the line, just off the line, etc. and make sure you try to do that for each piece as that will help with the fit. It is usually recommended that for beginners, you try to cut the middle of the line. You will have a little bit of gap, but the more you do it, the better you will get. The smaller the blade, the smaller the kerf, and therefore the smaller the gap as well. The sanding and shaping will help with losing the gap as well.

      Both Judy Gale Roberts and Kathy Wise offer beginner books in Intarsia to help learn. They are two of the preeminent intarsia artist and pattern makers out there. I have used books from both and recommend them. They also offer classes you can take. I have taken classes from Judy, and can highly recommend them. I have never taken any from Kathy yet, but maybe one day. They both have their own tips and techniques so you can learn different things from each. You just need to explore their websites and find the information that you want. Judy I know has several tips and helpful information on her website. She also offers "classroom in a Tube" that provides you with detailed pattern, and information on cutting and putting it together. Kathy Wise has started a pattern club that gets you access to videos and facebook posts about doing the pieces.

      Links to JGR site at include: and and as well as her free patterns found here:
      She also has books and DVDs here: - You can find her info. on her beginner classes here: but looks like they are presently all filled. You can get on her waiting list by contacting them. Her classes fill up quickly so you have to be quick to signup when she releases her schedule.

      Kathy Wise's site is found here: - information on her classes or workshops as she calls them can be found here: - Some tips and hints can be found here: and Q/A here: and information on her pattern club here:!/Wi...0&sort=nameAsc

      You can also check out most issues of the Scrollsaw Woodworking and Crafts magazine as they usually have great articles and information on doing Intarsia work. Usually those are by Judy Gale Roberts, Kathy Wise, Bruce Worthington, Jeannette Square and other known Intarsia artists. You can take a quick look at some of the more recent ones here: and you can presently get back orders of the magazine right now for just $2 an issue using the code "SSW2Dollars" - go here for details and find back issues available: - Not sure how much longer that sale will last as it has been going on for a bit and you will need to pay shipping.

      Bruce Worthington also has a downloadable free E-book for learning to do Intarsia work on his website here:
      Melanie from East TN


      • #4
        When you see Intarsia pieces like the tigers and snow leopards there are many pieces that are inset or inlay-ed. Melanie gave you several good links, I would consider sending either Judy or Kathy an e-mail with this question. Please let us know what they suggest.
        RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, Nova 1624 DVR XP
        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association


        • #5
          I think he's asking how Kathy got the leopard his spots. I was up close to that piece about 8 years ago, and I honestly can't remember if the spots are inlay, or she did it with a wood burner. From the photo, they look like inlay.

          However; I have done a bit of inlay in some intarsia projects. Mostly with letters or numbers. I've included a picture of one project. The "50 Years!" lettering in the heart is inlay as is the Ford logo on the hat. Another piece I did has a Texas Star inlayed in a belt buckle. If I knew how much fun that buckle would be when I started, I would have charged them double for it.

          I start by using a thick piece of wood to hold the inlay. For the heart it was 7/8' thick Redheart. I resawed it to get a 1/2' thick piece. I resawed a piece of Aspen to get a 1/2" thick piece and laminated the to cut the inlay. This way I'm only cutting 1" thick instead of 1-1/2".

          If I use a #1 blade to cut the inlay, I cut at 1-1/2°. If I use a #2/0 blade, I cut at 1°. I cut the letters from the bottom, which means I have to make a pattern with the letters backwards. Sounds weird, but it's what works for me. Once the inlays are cut and the letters are glued into their positions. I laminate the two pieces of Redheart back together to make a 3/4" thick piece. Just be careful shaping, so that you don't sand so deep, you sand past the inlay.
          Attached Files

          My Son-in-law said "Darnit, I cut this board twice, now. And it's still too short."


          • #6
            I think the key is practice, practice, practice.... Accurate cutting with Intarsia is critical.

            For me, I have learned to cut on one side of the line or the other and I have made many mistakes. Often we think of JGR or Wise as p pattern designers but they are incredibly skilled at cutting.

            ​​​​​​Many people do Intarsia and just round over the edges of every piece which hides poor cutting. Getting tight joints without rounding is what I look for when I see an Intarsia piece.


            Unconfigured Ad Widget


            Latest Topics


            • RJweb
              Reply to New Band saw Fence
              Thx for the review, what size blade did you use for resawing, also I feel that is a good price considering it is a Kreg product, I like their stuff, I have a few of their products, RJ...
              Today, 12:54 PM
            • Rolf
              Reply to New Band saw Fence
              Quartz you are absolutely right about the need for a good blade and proper tuning of the saw. I thought the price was a lot cheaper than I expected. Only nine ornaments
              Betty I have the mag switches on my scroll saw dust collection they are amazingly strong.
              But for my fence I want to...
              Today, 09:10 AM
            • Sandy Oaks
              Reply to Gizmos
              Sandy Oaks
              Thanks Rolf. Hard to see, but the light wood is curly maple. Beautiful
              Yesterday, 11:07 PM
            • will8989
              Reply to New Band saw Fence
              Bruce bought the Carter bandsaw fence and resaw fence at the Woodworkers show. He hasn’t used it yet but will give his ewview when he does use it. His is magnetic as he is left handed.thats what he said anyway. Will let you know how it is when I use it.
              Yesterday, 09:53 PM
            • Trout
              Reply to My truck is done..
              Did a delivery with the new truck.. ...
              Yesterday, 07:42 PM