Inlay & Crack Filler?

IMG_0604Shown in the photo is a crack in the floor of the arena in which the Woodworking Shows held its St. Paul edition. Big deal, right? What’s this have to do with 360 Woodworking? What’s the tie with woodworking at all?

OK. It is a stretch, but if you stay with me I think you’ll find this interesting. During one of our presentation at the three-day long woodworking show, we talk about inlay basics. I begin with an explanation about stringing; we discuss router bits, string size and how the setup changes to work with curves. Next, I show the easiest technique I’ve found to make the stringing out of scrap laying about my shop, how I cut string from a wider piece that’s been sized for the groove and how to miter corners using a chisel.

From there Chuck picks up the session to discuss “Poor Man’s Inlay.” if you’re not familiar with this inlay technique found around Lancaster, Pa starting about 1765, you need to attend one of the four remaining Woodworking Shows – its a wicked, cool inlay idea.

To be brief, and so I can tie this back to the crack in the photo, Chuck uses sulfur as the inlay. That’s what was used during the period, too. Sulfur melts at a low enough temperature to allow it to liquefy, be poured into recessed channels then turn back to solid so you can level the element with chisels and scrapers. It is neat.

After one of the sessions at an earlier show, a guy talked to Chuck about how he and the company for which he works use sulfur for installing and stabilizing handrails on older schools; its a retrofit. They drill holes in the concrete that are larger in diameter than the post, set the post then melt and pour in sulfur. The sulfur runs into the cavity, expands as it cools and is leveled off flush with the step. Once completely hard, the sulfur holds the post solid.

Now, about that crack in the photo. While we’re not exactly sure if the material deposited in the cracks in the floor around the arena was sulfur, it sure appears to be. It is yellowish in color, and while it’s much more shiny than Chuck’s inlay, you have to remember that those floors probably have gallons of wax and other sealers applied.

Aren’t you glad that you stayed with this post. Where else can you find a way to both create great inlay for your furniture and fill cracks in your basement floor? That’s just the tip of the amount of great information you can find at 360 Woodworking and at The Woodworking Shows.

Upcoming shows left on the schedule are in Milwaukee, Tampa, Atlanta and Kansas City. Stop by and say hello. For more information, check out our “Upcoming Events” page.

— Glen D. Huey

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