WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Art of Wood Inlay

The Art of Wood Inlay
by George Stevens

Sterling Publishing: 2005
Paperback, 128 pp., $22.95
ISBN 1-895569-82-6

     With two dozen individual projects, Canadian author George Stevens shows by example how to dress up and decorate bare wood projects using inlay techniques. Some knowledge of woodworking is assumed with these simple projects, but detailed instructions are provided to lead a beginner through the inlay procedures.
     The author shows how to sharpen knives and chisels, how to transfer patterns, and tells how to get directions for building a beam inlay press that rests in dual face vises at the front of a workbench. He first shows basic inlay steps, gives advice on making tight fitting inlays and preparing individual pieces, and shows methods for repairing damaged wood with inlays. He also thoroughly covers finishing techniques, and lists the colors of many woods by their common names.
     The projects range from recipe and trinket boxes to a step stool and bed tray, from jewelry pieces to fruit trays and wall plaques. Stevens' methods include filing a slight undercut bevel on the edges of inlaid pieces, resulting in a tight fit to avoid unsightly gaps in the finished work. He also shows how to build up leaf constucts in patterns of book-matched species, and how to lay out three-dimensional effects with rolled leaf edges and burned edges for shading.
     With practice, any woodworker can learn these techniques. Stevens does a good job of presenting precautions and alerting the beginner to differences in wood densities. There is considerable router work included in the projects, with guidance for making several jigs that would lend themselves to making these items in production runs. For the most part though, the inlays are handtool procedures, with patience required.

. . . Barb Siddiqui