Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 1
   September 2012
 
   String Inlay Made Easy
 

Table without inlay   Table with inlay
An envelope table without string inlay   The same table with string inlay
"The simplest of all inlay banding is stringing, the narrow strips of veneer used to outline drawers, panels or legs." — Jeffrey Greene, American Furniture of the 18th Century

"Think of it as pin striping for woodworkers." — Ralph Bagnall

String inlay adds elegance to furniture projects and draws the eye toward fine details. Many woodworkers think that stringing is an advanced technique, but actually great results can be achieved with just a few hand tools and a bit of practice. The traditional material used for stringing is holly; it is uniformly white and has very fine, tight grain, which makes it a good choice for detail work. Other woods can be used as needed. Look for solid, consistent color, tight grain and good contrast to the substrate. The string I use is 1/32" thick and inlaid a bit less than that, so the surface must be very even and smooth prior to grooving. If it's not, scraping or sanding will remove too much of the stringing.

Cutting the Strings
String inlay is typically less than 1/8" wide. It would be nice if you could buy it pre-cut, but I haven't been able to find a source. Many craftspeople cut the groove first and match the string to it, but I actually find it easier to cut the string first and match my cutter width to it.

  String inlay cutting jig
  The simple and effective jig for cutting even pieces of string
The veneer sheet you buy is likely to come with raw edges. The first step is to simply saw it in half along its length to obtain two usable straight edges. To do so, clamp the veneer under a straightedge (I use the outer edge of my stripping jig). For cutting the pieces of string, my jig is both simple and foolproof. Using two pieces of the 1/8" hardboard the holly flitch was shipped in, I cut a small step into the edge of one piece and mounted it on top of the other. This step sets the width of the string and acts as the straightedge for sawing. The jig should be longer than your veneer sheet.
 
 
             
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