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How to Inlay Wood Letters

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Inlaying lettering into a project can be an excellent way to add a personal touch to your work of art. With the wide availability of wooden letters designed for inlaying it’s become much easier to master the craft of being an inlay artist.

Things You'll Need:

  • Router Base For Rotary Tool
  • Pen Scribe
  • Pre-Cut Wooden Letters
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Epoxy
  • Sanding Block
  • Inlay Rotary Tool Bits
  • Rotary Tool
  • Filler
  • Blue Painter'S Tape

Apply double sided tape onto the back of the wooden letters. Be careful not to allow any of the tape to protrude beyond the edge of the lettering.

Arrange the wooden letters on the surface of the receiving material you want to inlay them into. They should be arranged in the manner you want them to look like when finished. Pay attention to spacing and check your spelling.

Use the pencil scribe and trace each letter, leaving an outline impression in the receiving surface. This will be used as your guide for removing material from the receiving surface. Once this is done you can remove the letters and all double sided tape.

Remove material from the inside of your tracing using a rotary tool and a rotary tool router bit. Focus on getting as close as you can to the inside of your line. It’s suggested that you use a router base to ensure a steady cut and smoother lines. Using the rotary tool on slower speeds will prevent burning of the receiving material and allow for better control of the the rotary tool.

Complete a dry fit test to ensure the wooden letters will fit snugly into the cavity you just routed. If they do not fit, remove the letters and remove more material from the receiving base where needed. Repeat this process until each letter fits.

Apply a small amount of epoxy or wood glue onto the base of the cavity you routed for one letter. Press fit the letter into the cavity and use blue painter’s tape to hold the letter in place while the glue dries. Each letter should be done one at a time.

Apply filler to any gaps or crevices left from the cutting process. Using saw dust from the receiving surface or inlay filler will yield good results. If you use saw dust you should mix it with glue so it will be solid when dry.

Sand the receiving surface and the inlay surface flat once all glue has dried. Use a sanding block to ensure the surface is sanded smooth.


Testing on a scrap piece of wood will allow you to be sure you set the depth of your cut to allow a small amount of the inlay to stick above the surface of the receiving material. This will give you the ability to sand everything flat.

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