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 In Techniques

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Make this traditional design with a router and plug cutters.

Line and berry inlay is an old American tradition. There are many variations of the design, but all consist of a series of circular arcs made with thin wood, called stringing, which often terminate in round discs, or berries. Back in 18th century Pennsylvania, where the patterns originated among Welsh settlers, the curved grooves for the stringing were made by hand with a modified compass. A router, pivoting on a nail, can do the same job.

I’ll show you how to make a basic line and berry design which Al used to decorate the front of a spice cabinet. This design is a good starting point to learn the technique, but I hope that you’ll go on to try other traditional patterns (see below) or create your own. Old designs are generally symmetrical, but a free-form pattern would work, too.

What you’ll need

You can make your own 1/16″ stringing, but it’s much easier to buy it.


 

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