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Maybe some of you can help me with this...

I've got an unfinished elder wood occasional table that I'm finishing with an inlaid leather top. I've routed out a recessed area 1/8" deep over most of the top in which to place a piece of tooled/finished leather. When finished, there will be a little bit of wood showing around the edge of the top. The diameter of the top is 24".

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I want the inlay to fit perfectly into the recessed area of the top, with no edges showing and no gaps anywhere. I have already made one attempt to cut a piece of leather to fit into this recessed area, but anyone who has done any work at all with tooled veg-tan (especially a piece this size), it tends to shrink and get out of shape. So as you might guess, despite cutting it slightly larger than the actual size, and my best efforts to prevent shrinkage, it shrunk anyway, and was no longer the perfect circle that it was when I first cut it. It's now sitting in my boo-boo bin.

This is my first attempt to do an inlay, so before I sink too much more time or money into this, I wonder if any of you out in leather land have any tips or stories from the trenches that might help me make the best of my second attempt?

Kate

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Kate,

The only idea I can come up with right now is to make it a good bit oversized (meaning when it's dried, it will still be oversized). Wet it again and "form" it into place. You should have a lip that rises above the leather and wood. sort of like a gusset for a bag. Then once it's dried in place, you should be able to trim the lip off following the contour of the wood.

That's all i've got right now. Sorry I couldn't help more.

Marlon

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I see Rawhide is going to impart some words of wisdom here... so maybe this won't be any use, but this is what I would do: I would not cut the leather. I would tool it and allow it to dry and *then* I would cut it.

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Kate,

A few experiences. You need to use your favorite method to limit stretch obviously. For things that really need to fit tight. I cut them oversize and mark out my tooling area. Tool it, let it dry thoroughly and then cut it out. For something like that, I would make my first cut 1/8-3/16" oversized for the inlay area. See if it will work in and compress. If not, trim a skoche (sp?) off and try again. As you have already found, it will compress more than it will stretch. Especially for inlays, this works the best for me.

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On the point you all mention about cutting it down to size after the tooling, I think you're right. One thing I'm probably going to have to give up on is to have tooling going all the way to the edge, or the trimming that takes place afterwards may cut into it.

One possibility I thought of was to permanently mount the leather on a backing before tooling on it. This is what I do on my game boards, and the leather does not change size, so sizing it for a frame is very predictable. For this, it would have to be a pretty thin backing, in order to fit into the recessed area with the surface of the leather flush with the table top, and then, a piece that thin probably wouldn't keep the leather in shape.

Kate

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If you're wanting to tool up to the edge, you may have to cement it to a posterborad of some sort or maybe shelf paper. I would pick something with high adhesive since it would be permanent.

As far as wisdom goes, never play hide and seek with your kid and a downstairs window open high enough for him to climb out. :scared:

Marlon

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This may be way off but could you make your recees a bit deeper then glue the leather to a piece of veneer then fit it to the table top.I'm thinking this would firm the leather as though you were applying wood to wood.

I have in mind too possibly leaving enough border, that after incerting into the table recess you can still work the damp edge leather to mate with the wood edge using a rub stick to fill any gaps. Kind of blending leather to wood? GHackett

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I would do one of two things. First

I would cut a piece of posterboard EXACTLY the shape of the insert, tool your patterrn, flip it over, cover with the posterboard and simply mark the leather and cut it out. You would have a perfect fit.

I thought about your question last night and figured that it would look really nice also to cut it and don't worry about a 1/32 or 1/16 gap on the rim. Take a nice piece of quarter round wood or a 4 plait 2 color braided leather "rope" and glue it around the table.

Either would look really nice.

pete

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This may not be possible with your particular table,but I have taken the top off a table, glued the leather on and tooled it right on the top itself. Kevin

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Thanks so much for all the great ideas, guys - I knew you would come through! :spoton: I will take another crack at it and let you know how it comes out.

Kevin, I will mention that your solution is the ideal one. Unfortunately, the store owner glued the top onto the pedestal, making it impossible to remove from it, so that is out of the question on this particular one. But I did let him know this, so he promised not to glue them down any more.

Kate

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That is nice! But how can I do that without spending $13k?

Kate

I inlay my leather into wood by using my laser.

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You can purchase an inlay router bushing set for wood.You would route out table top and piece of thin good grade plywood to fit it.This is done by adding or removing bushing that allows for bit thickness and they will fit perfectley together.Take plywood disk and use it to cut leather or glue leather to disk.These router inlay sets are sold in better woodworking stores. crossvillepappy

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Any updates on how this came out? I've just finished making an end table and I plan to inlay a belt of leather into the top. I haven't yet routed an inset for the leather yet, so I will probably tool the leather first and then route the inset to match the finished width of the leather belt.

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Oh yeah, forgot all about this thread. I may have posted these in some other thread - a quick search didn't turn anything up, so here they are:

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I have to agree. Very inspiring. Now to try something similar here!

Tom

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