Butterfly Inlay

Butterfly Inlay 5F00 lead Butterfly Inlay

Butterfly Inlay

Make a perfect fit with a
shop-made template.

By Tom Caspar

Purchase the complete version of this woodworking technique story from AWBookstore.com.

Don’t you just love it when something
that looks extremely difficult
turns out to be oh-so easy?
Making butterfly inlay with a plunge
router is a good example. The technique
is very easy to learn. All it takes
is a set of router accessories and some
1/4-in. plywood or hardboard to
make your own template.

Butterflies appear to bind two
pieces of wood together, but they’re
really just for show and are only
1/8-in. thick. Few pieces of authentic
Mission-style furniture were
dressed up with butterflies, but in
recent years they’ve become a common
decorative theme in reproduction
Mission furniture, adding a
light touch to heavy-looking pieces.


Your router

The easiest way to make inlay is with
a plunge router, but it’s possible to
use a fixed-base router instead. The
only problem with using a fixed-base
router is that you’ll have to tip it into
the cut by hand, which takes some
practice. This technique may also
put a good deal of stress on a fragile
router bit.

Whatever kind of router you use,
its base must accept a Porter-Cablestyle
template guide. This is a stationary
ring that screws onto the router
base. If your router’s base doesn’t
have a hole sized for a Porter-Cablestyle
template guide, you can buy an
adapter base.


The inlay kit

Inlay kits are available from several
manufacturers, but they’re all very
similar. You get
a template guide, a 1/8-in.-thick collar
that snaps onto the guide and a 1/8-
in. solid-carbide bit. The bit is usually
a spiral downcut that cuts exceptionally
clean, chip-free edges.

The inlay set we used also includes
a centering pin for installing the template
guide in your router base. If the
guide isn’t centered, the inlay may not
fit well in the recess.

Click any image to view a larger version.


This kit has everything you
need to make both the inlay
and the recess it fits into:

Butterfly Inlay 5F00 bit Butterfly Inlay

1/8" Bit

Butterfly Inlay 5F00 snap on collar Butterfly Inlay

Snap-on collar

Butterfly Inlay 5F00 template guide Butterfly Inlay

Template guide

Butterfly Inlay 5F00 guide mounting ring Butterfly Inlay

Guide-mounting ring

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker March 2003, issue #99.

AW99 Mar03 Cover Butterfly Inlay

March 2003, issue #99

Purchase this back issue.

Purchase the complete version of this woodworking technique story from AWBookstore.com.

 Butterfly Inlay

No related posts.

Comments are closed.