Add an Inlaid Signature to Your Work
A few days ago I decided to put some of my smaller scraps to use by building a simple cutting board. Since this wasn’t a piece destined for anyone in particular, I thought it might be appropriate to use it as a test subject for a simple inlay technique I’ve always wanted to experiment with. Truth-be-told, this isn’t technically an inlay but rather, a way of faking one-sort of.
I typically sign all of my work using my middle name, Gabriel, and I’ve often wondered if I could use a Dremel tool with a router base attachment to trace around a signature and then fill the void with tinted epoxy for a sleek, permanent branding of my pieces. Turns out I can. While I’m not completely satisfied with the final product (my routing was slightly shaky at points, leading to curves that aren’t as smooth as I’d like), I’d say I’m pretty close.
Watch the process, step-by-step, in the gallery photos above. This only took me about an hour-not including the drying time for the epoxy. A better attachment for the Dremel would certainly help in controlling the cut, but that will have to wait until the arrival of my next paycheck. Enjoy, and if you’ve experimented with a similar technique, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section at the bottom of this post.
1) I began the process by signing my name to the edge of my cutting board. Notice the two pieces of scrap walnut on either side of the maple-edged board? Those are there to increase the real estate available for my Dremel's base plate.
6) A card scraper makes quick work of getting rid of the excess epoxy. After scraping, I made a couple of quick swipes with my handplane for a perfect, flush inlay.
2) Routing the signature was pretty straightforward, although I would caution folks to slow down when intersecting a previously-routed line, such as would happen when routing a cursive letter "L." The bit wants to wander when it intersects another cut line.
4) For my filler, I mixed up a small batch of two-part five minute epoxy. Next, I tinted it black using a water-based powdered dye.
3) I took a few quick swipes with a handplane to remove some of the "fuzz" left behind by the router bit.
This inlaid epoxy signature took only about an hour to pull off. Although my router work was a wee-bit shaky on some of the curves, I'd say this is a solid start to a new technique for me.
5) A small 1/8-in. dowel made quick work of filling in the signature with epoxy. After filling, I allowed the inlay to dry for several hours.