I know how I can create one kind of fake inlay. I would like to know what is involved, at least at a basic level, how one creates inlays using traditional techniques and tools.

What tools could I use to create a traditional inlay? I envision a router plane and a coping saw for the actual inlay but it would be nice to know about anyone that has actually done it. More about custom shapes like leaves then just inlay strips that run the perimeter of a box.

  • I would think chisels (and gouges used as curved chisels) to define the outline of the shape, followed by chisel and/or router plane as you suggest -- or one of the stacked-veneer approaches to cut negative and positive shapes with fretsaw/coping saw and plan on veneering the entire tip even if it's with the same wood as the structure behind it. There are probably other approaches.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 18:10
  • @keshlam I had assumed as much. I am running a little out of wind on my questions lately. Just trying to drum up content and ideas. If I didn't put any more though into it I would have tried something like that. The little tidbits and surprises I have learned here are still amazing me so I ask!
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 18:12
  • 1
    CNC machines! :D (New traditions!)
    – Ashlar
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


I know that this is an old question, but for anyone else looking...

You can use a brace with a Forstner bit to get you started with removing material, and then chisels & even carving gouges for the finer detail.

On the inserts, a fretsaw has already been mentioned but then also chisels, rasps and sandpaper for the finer stages for a close fit.

  • 1
    Old Question or not an Answer is always welcome, +1.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 6:18

Chisels, various sharp knives, fretsaw, veneer hammer and dozer or dozer-plane come to mind.
The art of (furniture) inlay with veneers, ivory, bone and mother of pearl is called Marquetry. Look up the word for more info.

There are some enthousiast sites that offer a lot of information, like: http://www.redbridgemarquetrygroup.org/tutorials.html

Silas Kopf demonstrates his work and tools here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jScr9gAvULU&t=23s

Good luck!

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