I’ve taught many classes and built quite a number of projects that have string inlay. And even though the stringing in the furniture that I’m reproducing is most likely holly (even some of the string inlay that is black was holly that was dyed black), I’ve developed a passion for using tiger maple as my stringing. I know that takes the project out of the race for being a true reproduction, but I like the characteristics of tiger maple. Plus, I like the extra smack you get when using it.
Take a look at the opening photo (click it to see an enlarged image). It’s the corner of a sugar chest I built many years ago. The stringing is tiger maple. Notice the extra play you see in the string. Not only does the lighter wood stand out off the walnut background, the stripes in the string add to the overall look.
I’ve been working on a piece of inlay for a Pennsylvania desk on frame that I’m building for a project in 360Woodworking. It, too, is a walnut piece from the early 1800s. In the lid of the desk is a bold piece of inlay, so I’ve been trying to reproduce the look for my piece. The original has maple inlaid into walnut, and there is evidence that the maple may have been sand shaded. When I shaded my inlay pieces, I was unhappy with the results.
What to do?
I decided to play around with the stripes in the tiger maple and did away with the attempts at proper shading. If you select the right piece of stock from which to make your inlay, you can manipulate the pieces to have the stripes dance. The piece of inlay shown here is a hurried attempt to get the look I was after. So far, so good. My hope is that when it’s combined with the other pieces, the inlay will look great set into the walnut. But will the design be too stripy (is that a word)?
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