Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 4
   March 2011
   Create a Conch Shell Inlay

Conch shell inlay
This conch shell inlay can be adapted to a variety of sizes and designs.

Much has been written about creating inlay strips for furniture, but when I wanted to add a conch shell medallion inlay to a project, I was unable to find either existing medallions or instructions on how to make one. So, what follows is my medallion-making method.

  The two veneer layers (holly and mahogany) and the printout
  Glued stack
  The layers stacked and glued
If you're more artistic than I, you can draw your own design, but I settled for a photograph of an antique-conch medallion that I liked. I printed the photo at the scale I wanted, a 3" x 6" ellipse.

Very little material is needed. I used a 4" x 7" piece of holly veneer and a similarly sized piece of mahogany veneer. It's important to have the two materials alike in thickness in order to obtain a smooth finish. The original photo showed a holly-string border, but that's best added after the medallion is set in place.

The trick to getting a close fit between the parts is to cut both materials at the same time. Bond the veneers and the pattern together using spray adhesive. If you spray only one surface of each pair, separating the parts later will not be a problem. The stack can then be cut around the outer oval.

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