Draft Taps with Walnut Inlay

First time trying to do an inlay, lots of experimentation and definitely a learning experience.

I was inspired to make tap handles for a friend’s microbrewery - overlaid his logo onto six tap handles that would line up to make an overall image.

Main wood is white oak (I think - it was an inexpensive trimming). Inlay is walnut. Parts were cut in gangs:

Along the way, I decided to change from a threaded waste board to T-tracks, happy with the change. I also toyed with “Manufacturing Models” in Fusion 360 to make design changes for cutting that don’t affect the source models.

One big thing I tried (that did work nicely) was ever so slightly angling the walls of the inset wood (approximately 5 degrees - the same as the 1/8 tapered endmill I would use) so as to have the inset nest tightly.

Both the handles and the insets were cut with a 1/8 up cut bit (adaptive clearing, contour with stock-to-leave) followed by the 1/8 tapered endmill (contour) to cut the inlay edges. The final dimensions of the inlays themselves were cut with a very slight negative stock to leave (that is, taking a very very slight amount of extra material off) to allow for fitting.

The glue up was a bit of a pain - the inlays would squirm themselves out of place if they had no features that stuck them - but all in all things came out really nicely with a bit (well, a lot) of sanding. I used my table saw to cut the majority of the excess inlay to reduce the amount of sanding required.

Progress! First test inlay glued, cut, and sanded.

The final set, with a light coat of beeswax. I will likely add another coat or two.

Closeup of the inlay:

Tons learned in this project - it was my first time trying inlays, first time I used beeswax finish, and a bunch of new Fusion techniques, as well as new ideas for how to hold down my work.

I’m really excited to see these when they are installed - I will have to post a follow-up picture!


Nice word Ed! Those inlays look great and you got to help a friend while learning a new trick, win win.

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Looks great.

Can you explain your hold down here? Are you bolting the workpiece down to your threaded interest (then to your t-track) and machining around all the bolts?


Yes, exactly. I realized that since I would need to do post machining cutting with a bandsaw or table saw anyway, I may as well just use holes in the stock and avoid cutting them.

This is where I started really getting to know “Manufacturing Models” in Fusion - it lets me change the model in ways that allow me to add un-machined areas, tabs, etc, without modifying the base models.

In this image, you can see where I added unmachined areas both to reduce machining time as well as give me somewhere to bolt through.

The old threaded wasteboard was less forgiving of this strategy, since the holes were more restricted. With the new t tracks, I just had to keep the holes in a line.

You can see multiple setups in this image - the green part is one of them, with the final cutting pass displayed. To the left of it you can see the six model pieces and the three “posts” (for want of a better word) where I drilled the hold down holes and made sure not to machine.

I’m really happy with this method - if I’m going to be removing stock anyway, I may as well get maximal clamping without too much effort. Add on the fact that I still use nylon fasteners, and even if I hit one of the hold downs there is minimal damage.


@elbarsal Excellent work, Ed. Thank you much for the detailed explanation of your process. :grinning:

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Taps installed!

For KW locals, check out Counterpoint Brewing… great beer (and some fancy tap handles lol)

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