Easy, Peasy Diamond Inlay

The almost completed inlays. One is wiped with mineral spirits and one is left unsanded while the others are smooth and ready for installation.

The woodworking world in which I participate is slowing moving toward minute measurements – everything needs to be precise. Users of handplanes brag about shavings in the thousandths of an inch, and calipers in some woodworking shops carry measurements three decimal places or more. We are trying to work in exacting dimensions using a medium that does not support infinitesimal details. Wood moves. The idea in woodworking today – as it was in the previous centuries – should be to make it fit. Relax. It’s suppose to be fun.

In the series of photos below, I inlay diamonds of ebony into sapele blocks for a residential library. There are no .001″ measurements with which to contend. (In fact, I’d bet the pencil lead is wider.) I simply made the inlay fit.

Find the center of the board – draw a line from corner to corner.

Draw the four lines from the center point.


Position the diamond inlay and carefully draw around its perimeter.


Chisel just inside the lines.


Remove the bulk of the waste using a router and straight router bit.


Break away the remaining waste as you chisel around the perimeter a second time, then pare the surface smooth.


To tweak the fit, create a small bevel on the edge of your inlay using sandpaper or an old sanding disc.


Spread glue into the recess, install the inlay and tap it home with a mallet.

It doesn’t get any easier.

— Glen D. Huey

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2 thoughts on “Easy, Peasy Diamond Inlay

  1. Chuck showed that process to my son on a sanding block at a woodworking show. Brings back memories

  2. And THAT is the way woodworking goes.
    Easy AND fun.
    Thanks Glen.

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