8 Fun Uses for Decorative Wood Onlays

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This is 8 Fun Uses for Decorative Wood Onlays. In this post, I’ll show you how to use these beautiful decorative wooden pieces to make any project look so much better. They are super easy to use too, which is another bonus.

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Decorative Wood Onlays

8-Fun-Uses-for-Decorative-Wood-OnlaysIf you’ve never used them before, or you don’t know what they are, decorative wood onlays are little pieces of flat wood that are carved on a machine to look like fancy patterns and accent pieces.

They come in a lot of different styles, and you can find them both in hardware stores and online. Obviously you’ll find a lot more of them online, and in most cases you get a better choice and a better price as well.

These are flat, and they can vary in size from a few inches to over a foot. They adhere directly to a piece of woodworking, and give the look of being carved or being part of the piece itself.

If you’re looking for a really fun way to add a classy look to some of your woodworking, then decorative wood onlays are the way to go, and I’ll show you everything you need to know coming up.

See Also: 5 Easy Tips for Using a Wood Rasp

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Add Accents to Existing Projects

One of the easiest things that you can do with these onlay pieces is simply use them to add accents to your existing projects. You don’t really have to do anything special at this point, other than pick out some onlays that enhance your look.

Depending on what type of project you’ve made, there can be a lot of opportunity for using these little decorative wood pieces to take your project to the next level. You can add hand carved accents with just a little wood glue, which is super easy, and fast.

Take a look online, and find several of these accent pieces that look good for your project. Then, when you get them in the shop, all you’ll need to do is glue them in place, and use some masking tape all the glue dries.

Once you’re done, just remove the tape and your piece will have a much more interesting look then if you did not use them.

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Design Them Into Future Projects

Another thing that you can do if you browse through the different selections that are available and find something you like is to design these pieces into your future projects.

It may seem weird to design an entire project around an accent item, but when you fall in love with a certain look, you may end up designing an entire project around it. That’s totally fine, and if it looks good, you’re doing the right thing.

Since there are so many different options for onlays, you can definitely find a lot of different ways to work them into the design of your future projects. Just familiarize yourself with what’s available, and you’ll insert them at the right times.

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See Also: 18 Great Tips for Finishing Wood Furniture

Don’t Use Too Many On One Project

A word of caution about this particular type of accent is not to go nuts with them, or overuse them on one particular project. Instead, they are best used in a more subtle application, and not over done.

Just like other good things, wooden onlay pieces can be overused, and you can end up having too much of a good thing. At that point it’s not a good thing at all, and it can actually look a little bit weird or out of place.

Think of an accent like a garnish on a really nice plate of food. If the waiter were to bring you out a steak, but you couldn’t see it under a huge pile of parsley, the garnish really wouldn’t be doing its job, since there would be too much of it.

Instead, when there’s just the right amount, it enhances the look and the overall presentation without being distracting or overwhelming. That’s what you’re looking for with these wood onlays.

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There are Thousands to Choose From

Another great thing about adding accents to your woodworking projects like this is that there are literally thousands of different options to choose from. They come in nearly every size you could possibly need, and they also cross through many styles.

All you need to do is hop on Amazon and type in wood onlays and take a look at the search results. You can literally spend half a day scrolling through all of the different options that are available, and I really recommend looking at as many as you can.

Get familiar with the different sizes and styles, and make a mental note of the ones that you really like, and that fit your particular woodworking style.

There are so many different options available that you are sure to find something that you like. When you do, you can use it to take your projects farther than without.

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Add Corners to Boxes and Square Items

A fun way to start with onlays is to add corner accents to boxes and different square or rectangle shape products that you’ve already made. Since these projects are already done, adding the only is pretty simple and quick.

Find some designs that makes sense with the look and style of the projects that you already have. Then, buy them on Amazon and take a look at them when you get them into the shop.

In most cases you’ll need to stain and finish them, and after that you can glue them to your existing project. Make sure not to stain and finish the back side, and also prepare the surface on your project so the glue has a great chance of adhering well.

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See Also: 15 Amazing Tips on How to Become a More Productive Woodworker

Add Details to Furniture Pieces

Another fun thing that you can do is add details and accents to furniture pieces. These don’t even have to be pieces that you’ve made yourself. It’s amazing what a couple of onlays can do to factory produced furniture to make it look more custom.

Hand carving work is expensive. It’s also something that gets deleted right away in an effort to produce the largest amount of furniture for the least amount of money. People buy based on price more than anything, so these handmade accents get removed really quickly.

A way that you can restore them is simply to buy matching onlay pieces for all of your furniture, and creatively place them with glue. Now, your furniture will have an elevated look that the manufacturer was not willing to build into the design themselves.

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Put Them on Cabinets and Case Work

When it comes to the furniture that you make in your own shop, adding these wooden accent pieces is an easy way to elevate the project. You could also add them to cabinets and case work that you create, making it look more custom.

Again, with all the different looks and styles that are available, you can easily add these detail pieces and make your projects look significantly better. Even just popping a few of them on your kitchen cabinets can make the cabinets look more amazing.

Don’t go crazy and put them every 6 inches, but a few well-placed onlay pieces can make a big difference in the woodworking projects that you create from your shop.

See Also: 13 Great Tips for Using a Wood Scraper

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know this quick little trick with wood onlays to take your woodworking projects farther, and make them look more custom, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action.

I recommend that you first find some onlays for a project that you’ve already made, and simply incorporate them into the design when they arrive.

This is the simplest way to get started, and it’s also the fastest. The project is already made, so the hard part is done. At this point, all you need to do is stain and finish the pieces, and then glue them to your project.

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After that, you can start working on making your own projects that have the decorative onlay pieces designed into the final look right from the start. There are so many different choices, you’ll definitely find something you like.

If you have any questions about using wooden onlay to make your woodworking projects look more interesting, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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