Inlays and part matching techniques

I’ve been playing around with trying to do a basic inlay without any guidance, and hasn’t been going well. Usually my male part is larger than the female…but smaller wouldn’t be good either. I’m looking for nearly perfect matching of male/female parts and inlays.

It looks like a V carve bit is commonly used for wood inlays, which seems to rely on the V shape to mesh the parts together, potentially leaving a part proud or recessed to be corrected with sanding or planing.

I’d like to use inlays with other materials that can’t be finished like wood (ie acrylic), so I’m interested to learn how to perfect an inlay without a V bit. I’d also like to be able to very closely mesh male/female parts in mechanical assemblies, etc.

Any tips or tricks?

Have you seen the drunken woodworkers example for doing inlay work? I suggest checking this out, it helped me.


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@JamesMurray beat me to it.

Yep, I watched that last night. He makes it look easy…I think my main problem is bit sizing. I’m using the 1/8" single flute upcut that was part of my end mill starter kit. When I use 0.125" bit size in Easel, my inside outline cuts are slightly smaller, and my outside outline cuts are slightly larger. So it seems my kerf is smaller than what it should be according to the 1/8" size. It’s very difficult to measure the cutting area of the bit on the actual bit. Should I make a test cut and measure the kerf to use that measurement instead?

So I guess I’m wondering if the bit sizing is a common issue…or if I should just always measure the kerf and use that measurement…will that lead me to perfect insets?

Looks like you would want to do what you said with that bit for the specific type/types of materials… Measure the actual cut width and put those numbers into Easel for the bit size. It is worth a try for little $ spent…

If you got the starter kit, give the straight 2 flute a try at a little slower rate and see if your accuracy increases ( just a thought ).

Did you try doing both “on path”?

Do you have enough scrap material to do small tests?

Okay I was playing with this all morning. :slight_smile: This is the technique I came up with when the cutting diameter does not exactly match the bit size:

  1. Draw a 1.000" x 1.000" square in easel.
  2. Cut out the square shape with Outline: Outside.
  3. Measure the width of your square with calipers.
  4. Calculate the adjusted bit size:

New bit size = ((1.000 - A) / 2) + O
A: actual width of your square
O: the bit size you had entered into Easel when you cut the square

  1. Enter the new bit size into Easel, and cut the same square. Now your 1" square should come out very close to 1.000"

6)Now cut the square with Outline: Inside. The cutout in your stock should also be very close to 1.000". Test fit the square in the hole you just cut.

If you want more play between your parts, decrease entered bit size slightly.

Here’s my result:

No glue!


I’m in process with something much similar. Here I’m creating an oval cameo picture frame and am running test cuts in scrap before I commit to the real materials (oak and plexy).

I’ve been getting small pockets and large inlays using Easel. I’m excavating the the pocket to depth and then am switching to the Outline tool for creating what will be the plexy piece.

I read through the responses here and decided to put a caliper on the bits that I received from Inventables. In my case the nominal 1/8" spiral upcut bit is actually 0.114" in diameter at the cutting tip, not 0.125. It’s not 0.125 until I get very close to the end of the bit up towards the shank.

I’m going to attempt this on some more scrap with the revised bit size (thus a slightly narrower kerf!) to see what kind of results this yields.