Studio D Conference Table, Part 4 – Butterfly Inlays
The joinery is tight and I know I used enough glue and clamping pressure, but… it never hurts to add a little extra insurance. So before I moved on to preparing the top for finish, I added five more bog oak butterfly inlays along the seam where I joined the two planks.
Normally, I do my inlays by hand. I like the detail and precision and the presence required for such work. It is one of the woodworking techniques I love doing the most, whether it is an escutcheon or a butterfly key or a semiprecious cabochon in the lid of a box.
As I mentioned in Part 3 of this series, the bog oak is sourced from a company called Adamson and Low, out of the UK. Hamish and Nicola have been supplying me with bog oak for a while now; it is the best, both in structural integrity and in colour, I’ve ever found. And they will work with you to get the size/cut you need, if you require something specific. If you ever want to use bog oak for a project, I highly recommend them.
These keys are a full ¾” thick. Because of that, I decided to speed up the process of waste removal with my small Bosch palm router, one of the few hand tools with tails I still own, and a ¼” spiral upcut bit. I also used a powered drill for the initial waste removal since I still need to clean up most of my brace bits.
For a slight change of pace, I’m going to let the pictures do much of the talking…
In order to avoid making the table look like a big zipper, I didn’t want to space the butterfly inlays out evenly along the entire length.
Though it might not look like it, there is actual method to how I positioned them. I started at the far end, laying out some thin hardboard templates of the inlays so I could figure out the best placement. I decided to place one 5” from the far end of the inner live edge. To balance that, I put the farthest butterfly 5” from the end of the board. That left a space of 12.5” between them.
I mirrored that layout on the near end – 5” of space, butterfly inlay, 12.5” of space, butterfly inlay. For the middle butterfly, I measured out 5” from the near end of the inner live edge. Since that black bog oak inlay would be highlighted by the sapwood, it was the most important one to do as cleanly as possible.
The end result is, I think, a good layout. While you might not see the composition when you look at it, your brain probably does, and it lets you know it is a pleasing aesthetic feature. And I know I have five additional aids in making sure the seam between those two planks will always stay nice and tight.