I think I finally finished my inlay journey. See previous attempts here, here and here. I made two different wooden projects with inlay, and aside from leaving out one important step, they turned out well. The projects are my the “Cube Sweet Cube” signs that I have attempted to make over and over again, and a baseball bat trophy thing for my little cousin. He is into tee ball, and has some game winning balls to display.
I milled out a deeper pocket (0.05″) and instead of filling it completely with paint, which didn’t go well, just tried to coat the inside surfaces with paint. Thinning the acrylic with a little water helped it coat evenly.
The results were pretty good, the color was consistent, there wasn’t a voiding issue, and the surface planed clean really quickly and easily. This was due to the very thin layer of paint on top. The only thing that went wrong was a little bleeding into the grain. It is worse on the red than the black. The oak didn’t do this as bad as the pine did. I was lazy and didn’t do any sealing, so I only have myself to blame. No we know that is important!
- Mill text pocket with either flat or round bottom mill to at least 0.05″ deep.
- Spray area with a sealer such as spray lacquer. It is cheap and dries quickly.
- Mix desired acrylic paint color with a small bit of water to make it spread easily.
- Let dry overnight and either sand or plane off excess paint on top.
I used the shapeoko to mill out the somewhat complex area around the handle. I could have cut this with drill bit and band saw, but this was quick and came out really well. I don’t have enough travel to do the whole thing, so I finished the rest of it with my bandsaw. A forstner bit made pockets for holding the balls, and a quick trip around the router made a nice round over.
Inlay is going to turn into a saga If this keeps up! I had previously tried doing my own alternative to inlace’s resin infill material. It was kind of a disaster. The dye I added had a very adverse effect on the two part epoxy and resin. A few weeks later I looked at the casting dye and noticed that it had completely separated. There are no instructions on the bottle to mix before use, so it isn’t 100% my fault. I remember last time that I had to add a lot of the stuff to color the resin, and It still wasn’t very opaque. That could have been my issue all along.
I created another test structure and went to work. I don’t need to revisit inlace, I know it is good. For the acrylic paint, I tried to slop it on really thick so when it shrinks the pockets will still be filled. The two part and polyester resin were done with a minimum amount of dye added. This time they looked proper dark. The results were unfortunately bad. The polyester resin didn’t adhere well, and the two part epoxy had kind of a rubbery feel to it.
Well acrylic it is then! I went a little deep with the sanding and buzzed off part of the R, but other than that It looks good. Without further thought I ran off to make the “Cube Sweet Cube” sings I wanted to make weeks ago. The results were not issue free.
The acrylic paint shrinks considerably when it dries. The shrinkage is difficult to predict and often includes bubbles. I was trying to go thin on the pocket milling so I didn’t have to use as much paint. In trying to plane everything flat I shaved the paint right off in sections. The neat byproduct of that is some really cool looking shavings.
I have one last test up my sleeve. The acrylic paint coats well, but does not build up consistently. I will try taking a rounded bit and make deep pockets. These will get a good but thin coating of paint. I can shave or sand plenty off the top with out worrying about going too deep. Assuming the surface finish of the paint is ok, this should be a good solution. More results to follow!