Problem-Solving Products: Custom inlays, by the slice

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This article is from Issue 53 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Noden Inlay Razor

Previously, if you wanted to accent a project with inlay banding, you had two options: buying commercial banding, or making your own. Purchasing premade banding is the most popular solution, even though selection is limited and users tend to end up with pricey, unused excess. Some hard-core types make their own bandings, but the traditional approach–laminating and sawing veneers–is time-consuming and far from intuitive. Although learning to use it requires some patience, the Noden Inlay Razor offers a simple way to create custom inlay banding from shop scraps.

The tool’s simplicity hinges on wood’s willingness to split easily on end grain. Rather than being sawn, the inlay material is sliced from 1⁄16ʺ-thick “wafers” cut on a tablesaw. It’s a great way to use exotic offcuts too small for anything else.

The cutters are double-edged razor blades sandwiched between a pair of matching wooden blocks. You can design your own cutters by scrollsawing a block to shape and sandwiching a blade between the halves. (Sharp corners are trickier than curves, but if the blade can bend without breaking, the shape will work.) To provide a wider range of effects using the same cutter, the baseplate pivots to the right and left.

Using the inlay razor requires a bit of setup. First, cut a 1⁄16ʺ-deep dado to match your inlay width (up to 11⁄4ʺ) in a piece of scrap softwood, and clamp this “softwood groove” to the tool’s baseplate. Next, install a cutter in the arm at the desired position, lay the wafer material into the groove, and start slicing. (An audible “click” indicates a completed cut.) To make pieces of consistent length, simply clamp stops into your groove.

Once you have enough pieces to complete your design, glue them into the project’s groove using slow-set epoxy. (Water-based glues would cause the pieces to expand, complicating assembly.) After the epoxy has cured, sand the inlay flush.

Chopping inlay piece by piece requires patience–a relatively simple design for a box lid might take almost an hour–but the process is as easy as it gets. Note also that razor blades dull eventually but, depending on the species of wood, one cutter can create enough banding to do the edges of a large tabletop.

If you’re interested in building period furniture projects, you may opt to purchase pre-made bandings. But if you’re interested in designing your own bandings, including curved and circular inlays for instruments or turned work, this tool is for you. To see it in action and get a taste of what it will do, check out

The kit comes with four cutters, tweezers, a starter pack of wafers, a softwood groove, and an instructional DVD.

Noden Inlay Razor
#158265  $149.99

Tester: Craig Bentzley


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