Making a Fan Inlay

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

I’m currently working on a Federal-style card table. A common theme of the designs of this period is the beautiful inlay work. The table includes sand-shaded oval fan inlays at the top of each leg. The sand shading gives the element a three-dimensional look to what is otherwise a flat surface. I thought it might be interesting to document the process, tools, and techniques used in making these inlays and share this with other woodworkers.



While you can buy oval inlays of all varieties, including fans, they are expensive, and where is the fun in buying something you can make! Also, I don’t like having to tell someone, “Yes, I made it except for the …”. With the right tools, a process to follow, and some practice they are not so difficult to make.