Prince of Wales Feather Inlay


I wanted to build a Federal-period tripod, tilt-top candle stand that was originally built by the Seymour shop in Massachusetts circa 1780 -1800. It featured a Prince of Wales feather at its center. The size of the image in the book I had was too small to accurately reproduce, and I needed a plan to work with. A search online popped up many examples, but most were watered-down version that lacked the vibrancy I was after.

(Fig. 1) Finding a design I liked was just the beginning. Next I had to draw it with the correct orientation.

Persistence pays off because I eventually found, in another reference book I often use, an example that was almost perfect. Colors were great. Details were great. But the inlay was oriented different from what I needed. OK, I could at least use the image to get the design, even if I had to change the background. It was from that image that I drew the paper pattern of what I’ll use to reproduce the feathers for this patera. (Fig. 1)

Building a Stack

The first step to reproducing the inlay is to assemble a stack of three different veneers – each represents a piece in the final inlay – sandwiched between two 1/8”-thick pieces of luan plywood for support. Cut the pieces for the stack about a 1/2” over-size in each direction.

(Fig. 2) Keep the holly and green-dyed veneers together to produce a better fit in the finished inlay.

Holly veneer is used for the feathers and crown, and a piece of green-dyed veneer comprises the background of the entire inlay. The third piece of veneer is black. It could be left out of the pack if you choose because it’s used in only one area of the inlay – as a division on the crown – and that division could easily be drawn in with a marker which can do a surprisingly good job mimicking the black veneer.

As you assemble the pack, there is no particular order to the arrangement of the veneers. I do, however, like to keep the piece that becomes the feather and the piece that is the background together. I find that if I don’t keep those together, any variations in the saw blade show up as a poor fit. The piece of black veneer is held at the bottom of the stack. (Fig. 2)

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5 thoughts on “Prince of Wales Feather Inlay

  1. Beautiful. Great article.

  2. Hi guys, I have a couple of questions:

    1. How do you remove the kraft paper when the time comes?
    2. It seem the shading work is evaluated on the face that will eventually be covered with the veneer backing. It will be the other side which will become the show surface. Are special efforts needed to deal with the show side while sand shading?

    Thanks for a great article….Mark

    1. Mark,

      Paper used in this process is removed with a scraper or sander as you level the surfaces. Also, when Rob glues the piece to the paper, he flips them face side down to the paper. When the patera is installed with the paper-side up, the show face (with the correct shading) is also facing up. Rob also mentions in the DVD (coming later this week, we hope) that you should expect that your shading will lighten a bit as you sand, scrap or otherwise level your inlay.

  3. I am a huge fan of Mr. Millard and this was a great and educational video. I am currently building a piece using his techniques for Oval Fan Inlay from the videos of his that I purchased.
    Well done and thanks for the education and techniques.
    This site is quickly becoming an invaluable asset to my woodworking and education.


    1. Nick,
      Rob does some incredible work. And thanks for you support. We’re happy 360 Woodworking is making its way up your list of woodworking assets.

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