This page describes the process I went through to build a wood inlay on a jewelry box using the FishFry decorative inlay kit. Hopefully it will give you some insight to help you build your own stunning inlay on your heirloom quality woodworking project regardless of if you use one of our kits or not!
The first thing you need to do when building a decorative inlay is to envision how the design will look when finished. Consider how the various woods work together, what is the best grain orientation for each inlay piece, check to see if a specific grain pattern should be used in a special place, etc… To do this look at a picture of the design and then consider how different species of woods will look in the design. The rest of this post is dedicated to the process I went through while choosing how to build FishFry on this project.
For this jewelry box I decided to use Goncalo Alves (GA) as my main material and Walnut for trimming. GA is one of my favorite woods because it is not too hard, yet not too soft, which makes it easy to work with. GA tends to have wide spans of an orange hue with some dramatic black grain patterns which can lead to some breathtaking designs. I like GA because I have always lived in the West and GA can be used to give your project a rustic type of look. Because this box has somewhat of an “outdoorsey” feel to it I decided to use the FishFry inlay kit on the lid.
For Rev 1 of Fishfry I used Zebra wood for the fins and some other type of wood for the tail and face. I don’t really like the striped look for the fins, face, and tail because it takes away from the realistic look of the fish. The top, stripe, mouth, and bottom of the fish I really liked though.
On this piece I chose the section of GA because I wanted it to look like the fish was getting ready to eat something and that little knot in the GA worked well for this purpose. Once again the bottom of the fish is Maple, the stripe Purple Heart, and the mouth and eye Bloodwood. As for the rest of the woods YUCK!!! All the striping in the fins and top half of the fish take away from the realism. At the time I thought it would look pretty cool to include the knots into the fish somehow but it just didn’t work. Lesson learned for the next FishFry build.
For this build of FishFry I am going to make the fins, tail, and face out of the same species of wood that has a very subtle grain pattern. These are the woods I will use to build FishFry on this Jewelry box:
- Bottom → Maple
- Stripes → Purple Heart
- Top → Walnut
- Eyes & Mouth → Bloodwood
- Face, Tail, & Fins → Lacewood
An inlay should add some pizzazz to your finished product, the inlay is not the product!!! You should consider where the inlay will go when selecting the material for the project. I prefer to select my showpiece first and then figure out where to cut my supporting pieces from. When you are selecting your showpiece envision the inlay in the center of it so it looks natural and not forced. The next page describes the placement of the inlay in more detail.
Consider grain patterns and direction of the wood grains. If you are using an EZInlays kit remember our templates are designed to orient the grain pattern in the direction WE think the grain direction should follow. But just because that is what we think doesn’t mean you can’t change it. For instance it wouldn’t make sense for the grain pattern of the fish to flow from the bottom to the top, it is a much more natural pattern for the grain to flow from the head to the tail. The fins, face, and tail are all designed to follow natural flows but I am now thinking the less grain pattern the better for these pieces.
Consider the colors of wood you will be using in your design. You don’t want the outer edges of the inlay to be similar to the background piece or else the pattern sort of washes away. You want well defined edges and you get that with a good color contrast. By the same token you want the various shapes in the design to be seen too, so using a dark colored wood for the stripe and the top half of the fish will make the stripe fade away. Contrast is your friend!!!
Bottom line is if you take a few minutes to plan out your design you will be able to create a stunning inlay that will take your project to a whole new level.