Onlay accents made easy
Care to learn a straightforward way to lend eye-grabbing appeal to your next project? Decorative onlays, like the wheat motif on the bookshelf (link below), are just the ticket. Here, you'll learn how to apply that motif, but the basic process is the same for any design. You'll find clip art provides a good source for inspiration and other motifs. And, to make your onlays pop, choose contrasting woods, such as cherry and maple.
1. Plane or resaw a 3⁄4 x 3 x 12" piece of cherry to 1⁄8 " thick.
2. Make four copies of the bookshelf's end pattern on the WOOD PATTERNS® using the links at the end of the article. Cut out the wheat onlay pattern from two of the copies. Attach the patterns to the 1⁄8 "-thick cherry with spray adhesive. Trim the two remaining paper patterns to the end-piece outline. Place them printed side up on your workbench for now.
3. Using a no. 5 blade in your scrollsaw, cut the onlay pieces to shape. Remove the paper from them, and clean off any residual adhesive. (A cloth moistened with a solvent works well.) Sand the edges of the pieces to 220 grit.
4. Adhere the onlay pieces to the end patterns, as shown in Photo A. Lightly sand the pieces' exposed faces, and remove the dust.
5. From scrap 3⁄4 " plywood, cut two 8"-square pieces for platens. Using a toothpick, apply a thin, even coat of yellow woodworker's glue to the onlay faces. Avoid putting on too much glue as squeeze-out will be nearly impossible to remove. Apply the onlays to the bookshelf's ends, as shown in Photo B. Secure the onlays by clamping the platens on top of them for even pressure.
6. To further enhance the look of the onlays, add details with a small file or carving tool. Contour them by sanding with 220-grit sandpaper. For the wheat onlays, use the corner of a small square file to extend the scrollsawn "V" notches in the wheat onto the surface of the heads, as shown in Photo C. Also, lightly chamfer the edges of the onlays with the file. Finally, slightly round the onlay pieces toward their edges by sanding.