Wood Filler Inlay Step by Step

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Wood filler inlay is a way to cheat a little, but still create a beautiful looking inlay. The process is much simpler than standard inlays, because the inlay and the cavity do not have to be cut to an exact fit. In fact, only the cavity needs to be correct. The wood filler will conform to any shape you create, so you only need to get one thing right.

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Wood Filler Inlay – Making the Cavity

wood filler inlayI demonstrate this process in depth in my article on Making a Wine Ceremony Box. I used it to inlay a family monogram, as well as the date that they were married.

The first step is to use a dremel tool or router with a very fine bit and create a cavity. The easiest way to accomplish this is by making a template, and tracing it onto the wood.

Then, cut a cavity that is about 1/8 inch deep, being careful to trace the lines accurately. The wood filler inlay will take the shape of the cavity exactly. That means you need to spend the time getting the cavity nice and clean before you start adding wood filler.

Filling the Cavity with Wood Filler

wood filler inlayNext, carefully smear wood filler into the cavity that you create. It is best to use a contrasting color of filler. A good contrast will stand out against the background wood.

Make sure to press the wood filler inlay material deeply into the cavity. Press it into the corners and edges well, and over fill the cavity slightly.

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Make sure that the filler you use is a drying type that hardens well. Some fillers are never meant to fully harden. These are great for other applications, but not for wood filler inlay. Read the can or jar, and it will tell you. The two part (epoxy style) fillers are among the best, as they set up very hard.

Sanding Your Wood Filler Inlay

wood filler inlayOnce the filler material dries, sand it down to the surface of the wood. This is best accomplished with a sanding block and 150 grit papers.

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Wrap some sandpaper around your block, and take your time sanding. It is important to leave your block flat during this process.

As you sand, you will begin to see the design reveal itself. Keep going carefully, and keep the block flat. Change papers when they clog, and be patient. Once you get down to the surface level, wipe off the wood filler inlay, and see what it looks like. If there are areas that are not filled, or need more material, simply repeat the process and sand again.

Finishing the Inlay

wood filler inlayAfter the wood filler inlay is flushed to the surface, sand the entire panel with 220 grit to prepare it for finishing.

For my Wine Ceremony Box, I used Danish Oil on the entire project. The oil makes the Pine and the inlay look nice.

As you can see in the picture, the monogram wood filler inlay looks great against the background wood, and it has a well made look. As long as you spend the time on the cavity, your inlay will look great.

If you really mess up, and the inlay looks terrible, you can always use the dremel again and remove the filler material to clean up the walls of the design. This will make it look cleaner, and then you can fill it again.

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If you have any questions on Wood Filler Inlay Step by Step, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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