Steve Latta’s Inlay Bench

Latta Inlay Bench 003

In one of Steve Latta’s many inlay DVDs, he discusses the design and construction of his inlay bench.  I built mine to do federal inlay work, but I have found it to be a very useful bench for other tasks.

I picked up an 8/4 maple slab at my local hardwood dealer.  The end of the board had a split in it.  I elected to go for the extra bench length and leave it in and fill the crack with epoxy.  I figured the end of the bench won’t see a lot of hard action and the crack is mostly cosmetic.  I drilled a single row of dog holes down the centerline of the bench.  I can use the dog holes with the metal dog on the Pony vise, with holdfasts, or with a Veritas Bench Pup.

Latta Inlay Bench 004

Each pair of legs is constructed like an I-beam or an engineered joist.  I had some 2×10 lumber kicking around and I ripped some 2x6s out of the clear sections of the board.  I cut a dado down the center of each 2×6 to accept a 1″ thick OSB stair tread for the web of the beam.  I glued the leg assemblies together.  Once dry, I  attached them to the slab with 3/8″ diameter dowels.  I used six dowels per leg assembly, three in each 2×6.  I notched the bottom of each leg to allow the inlay bench to be clamped to my main bench.

Latta Inlay Bench 002


Like I said, I find this bench to be very useful for things besides inlay work.  I can clamp my Moxon vise to the bench for sawing dovetails.  It is higher than it should be, but I like that height for sawing dovetails.  Then I take the vise off and clamp boards flat for chopping and paring dovetails.

I am active in the local woodworking club and I have taken the inlay bench to club meetings to demonstrate techniques.  It is heavy, but it fits nicely in the back seat of the car.  I can then clamp the bench to one of those white plastic tables.  It isn’t ideal, but it is much easier than hauling a full sized bench around.

This is a fantastic little bench!  Even if you don’t do inlay work, it is a very handy bench to have around.


Designer firewood

Firewood 003

I was collecting firewood from a construction site today.   It was a pile of spruce logs with easy access.  Pretty happy about the find.  Then I found a birch tree in the pile, the best firewood in Alaska.  Really happy at this point.

Then I noticed the log had a large crotch in it.  The end grain of the log was competent and had a warm, rich color to it.  I didn’t look close to see if it has any spalting or not.  I cut the log to maximize the yield of crotch wood.  Fingers crossed, I should be able to get several nice boards of flame/crotch birch.  If not, then it can always go in the fireplace.

The log is big by Alaska birch standards.  It is close to 18″ in diameter and I should be able to get a two-foot long board.  It was HEAVY!  I had to get creative loading it into the trailer.

Looks like I need to set up a trip to see Don F. to see what his lumber mill can do.

Firewood 004

As an extra added bonus, after I bucked up the log, I rolled this piece away and it has a nice burl on it!  It has some interesting character.  The bark split while it was growing and exposed the wood underneath, which oxidized and turned black.  I see a bowl in its future.

The only thing better than free firewood is discovering a couple woodworking projects in the pile.  Good times.