First Try At Inlaying and Bending
I’m planning to inlay a monogram in the top of a humidor. The inlay will be 5/32” wide and 1/8” thick. I hope to use cherry. To make the monogram I have to inlay a circle that has a 7/8” inside diameter. Can I successfully bend the cherry to this small a radius? Would making it thinner, (1/16” as opposed to 1/8”), help? Should I bend tangent to the grain or perpendicular to it, (bend along the “face” of the board or along the edge?) Should I try to steam bend or just boil the cherry. If I boil it will it affect the color? If cherry won’t work is there another wood? What about just filling the inlay with colored epoxy? Will it last 100 years? Any suggestions/experiences will be appreciated. Thanks. Fred
I'm not sure it is possible,
I'm not sure it is possible, but I think you have a better than even chance of pulling it off.
Making it thinner will only make it more difficult, in fact you should probably have it square or thicker than it is wide in cross section so that it won't want to twist as it is bent. Boiling is not as effective as steaming. Use a piece of 1/2" iron pipe as the form (1/2" pipe is about 7/8" O.D.). Wrap the pipe with tape to prevent discoloration. Get a piece of thin brass or stainless steel shim stock and use it as a backing while making the bend. The shim stock will keep the fibers in compress and lessen the possibility or breakage. Wrap the inlay around the pipe at a slight angle, sort of like a screw thread and hold the ends in place with spring clamps. When dry, overlap the ends and cut through both at the same time with a razor blade, and you should get a perfect seam.
I think bending cherry that size to that small a radius will prove frustrating. I'd just saw a ring out of a sheet of solid stock however thick you want. At 5/32 x 1/8, or even 1/16, it will be plenty strong enough to handle gently til you get it inlaid. I use a jeweler's saw and usually 2/0 blades, but even a fine tooth coping saw blade would work on 1/8" thick stuff.
Am I correct in understanding that your thought was to bend a narrow strip into a circle with a 7/8" inside diameter? If so, I think doing so would be problematic. It would be better, I think, to cut the circle from flat stock, as suggested. Careful handling of cut inlay pieces, so they don't break along the grain lines, goes with the territory, I believe. Think "tweezers". ;-)
Thanks everybody for the good comments and ideas. The monogram will be inscribed in a circle with a 2-7/8" diameter. I have decided to steam bend that inlay using a piece of 2-1/2" iron pipe as a form. I'll cut out the monogram itself with a jeweler's saw. I'm going to practice on some scrap until I feel confident enough to hog into the maple lid. When, (not if!), I'm successful, I'll post some pictures. Thanks again to all.
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