See How Easily You Can Inlay Bow-Ties

See How Easily You Can Inlay Bow-Ties


Bowties, Butterflies, Dutchmen, Keyed Splines — call them what you will. They look amazing, don’t take too long, and are relatively easy to do.

The whole point of these small inlays is to stabilise your work piece when it has a crack in it. You can buy router templates that will allow you to do these perfectly and symmetrically. But most will probably agree that the organic, freeform shape is more interesting and satisfying.

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  1. Choose your stock and mark out your bowtie. It doesn’t matter what the shape is. It just needs to be long grain crossing short grain to shore up that crack. Bowties can be anything from less than half an inch to a few inches thick. Depends on the work piece you’re trying to fix.
  2. Cut your bowtie. Cut close to the line and then quickly clean it up with a chisel. To cut, use a bandsaw or hand saw, or whatever you’re comfortable with.
  3. Lay your bowtie across the crack on your piece. Sticking it down with some double sided tape helps.
  4. Mark around your bowtie with a sharp knife — not a pencil. This breaks the grain and is more accurate.
  5. You can hog out the majority of the material with a router, and then chisel back to your knife line for accuracy. Nothing wrong with doing the whole thing with a chisel, it’ll just take longer. Make your depth slightly shallower than the depth of your bowtie.
  6. Carefully test fit, but don’t push it in — you won’t get it back out. Just offer it up and see if there are any spots you need to adjust.
  7. Apply glue and gently tap it in. Leave to set.
  8. Clean up with a plane or sander. That’s it!

Take a look at a few of these videos below, if you need some more explanation.

Credit: Matt Cremona / YouTube

Credit: Samurai Carpenter / YouTube

Credit: John Malecki / YouTube

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