DIY Wine Ceremony Box Project – Part Three

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This is my DIY Wine Ceremony Box Project. In this four part series, I will show you step by step how to make a wine ceremony box. If you have been following along, you already have your wine box, and it’s been bound with an exotic hardwood. In this part of the project, you will inlay a family monogram, and in the next section you will finish the box and make the pegs that will seal it.

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diy wine ceremony box


Laying out the Wine Ceremony Box Inlay Design

diy wine ceremony boxFirst, find the best and flattest face on the side of the wine box. The side needs to look good, and be very close to flat. If you can feel serious dips and peaks on one side, then use the other for the inlay.

This style of inlay is very easy. It’s not an actual inlay by most definitions, but more of a fill.

You can choose any style of lettering or numbering that you desire. All you need to do is experiment with your layout, and create a design. My wife created the monogram on her Silhouette Cameo. The large P is for the last name of the couple getting married. Each S is for their first names, and the date is when they are getting married.

diy wine ceremony boxCut out the design on the Silhouette, and then use the negative to trace it on the face of the wine ceremony box.

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Make sure to keep it nice and square, so that the lettering looks well placed. Center the design, and take your time when tracing.

Another good tip is to choose a size that your Dremel bit selection will allow. I have very small spiral cutters, so I can go down to a line thickness of 1/16″. This narrow cutter lets me make finer lines, and I can execute almost any design that is needed. Experiment with what you have, and use a design that is large enough to execute. Rounded letters work better too, because a round bit can’t cut a square corner.

Preparing the Dremel and the Bits You Will Need

diy wine ceremony boxI have a Dremel tool and a router base, which make cutting the negative for this inlay much easier than doing so by hand. These router bases can be found online, and are nice to have for many different tasks.

When you set up your router, you want to extend the bit past the base about 1/8″. This is enough depth that the fill will not be transparent. It’s also not so much that the bit will drag in the wood. You do not need to go very deep for this kind of fill inlay. In fact, the deeper you go, the harder it will be to control the Dremel tool. The rotating bit will want to pull into the wood, and this will cause uneven lines and bumpy areas.

diy wine ceremony boxHere is a selection of the bits that I use in my Dremel tool. They are all made from carbide, and are made to cut metal. When you use them on wood, they cut incredibly well.

These range in size from 1/8″ down to 1/16″, and are all the right shank size to use in the Dremel tool. You can find these online, or from guitar making suppliers.

These bits are not cheap. However, since they are made for metal you will get a ton of use from them on wood. As long as you take care of them, they will last a long time. Don’t over heat them, and don’t drop them. A couple bits, one small and one a little bigger, will be perfect for most inlay work.

Cutting the Inlay Cavity for the Wine Ceremony Box

diy wine ceremony boxWhen it’s time to cut the inlay cavity, this can be a little stressful the first time. Here are a couple tips to make it easier.

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For any straight sections, use a bar clamp for a fence and let it guide the Dremel to make a perfect line. Also, use your smallest bit to trim out all the edges of the design first.

On any curved sections, try to keep the Dremel moving all the time. The more you stop, the more random bumps that your design will have. They can be taken out later with another pass, but it’s best to avoid as many as possible.

Lastly, when you have to stop, move the bit into a part of the design that is going to be removed. Then, turn off the tool, and wait until the bit fully stops before lifting it off the surface.

diy wine ceremony boxContinue working around the edges of the design until they have all been carved out. This is the hardest part of the job. Once this part is complete, focus your attention on the middles.

Use a larger Dremel bit if there are very big areas to remove. For this design, I kept on using the same small bit.

Carefully move back and forth, taking out middle sections of the design until they have all been removed. At this point, go back and look over your work. If there are areas that are a little bumpy, go over them again. If you take very thin passes, and work carefully, you can blend the bumpy areas smooth.

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Depending on how complex your design is, it can take some time to cut the cavity. Don’t worry about that. Take as long as you need to make a nice looking cavity.

Filling the Inlay Cavity with Wood Filler

diy wine ceremony boxAfter cutting the cavity, use a brush or an air nozzle to clean it out. Make sure to remove any excess dust. Also, if you missed an area with the Dremel, go back and take it out.

For the fill, you want to use a filler material that contrasts the surface color of the wood. I used a Walnut color filler that I found in a hardware store.

When buying fillers, spend an extra dollar or two on a nice product. It will dry better, and stay solid. Also, make sure you are buying a filler that hardens as it dries. Some fillers stay soft. They will not work for an inlay like this.

I have an article on using wood filler if you need help. It’s not the same product, but the sanding and leveling processes are the same.

diy wine ceremony boxUse a flat knife or putty knife to apply the filler to the cavity on the wine ceremony box. Make sure to press it in well, so it completely fills the cavity.

Also, make sure to overfill the cavity because these fillers tend to sink a little after they are finished drying.

Allow the mixture to dry according to the directions, and then you can start sanding it down. Use a flat block and sandpaper for this process, as it will help you level the inlay far better than sanding by hand. The block targets the high spots. Once you get the inlay completely flat to the surface, it’s time to inspect the job.

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diy wine ceremony boxYour design will not have any hazy borders when you are finished sanding. It should look like the picture on the left.

Inspect the fill, and identify any areas that need additional work. A tell tale sign of a low area are darker spots. These were not sanded by the block, so they are lower than the surface.

Use a dry paint brush to dust out any residue from the inlay surface. This will also reveal any areas that need additional filler. Take your time, and make sure to clean out the inlay very well before the second fill. An air hose can be helpful to remove dust form the inlay area too.

diy wine ceremony boxAfter the inlay has been cleaned and inspected, skim the top with another thin layer of wood filler. This will fill in any areas that still need attention.

For my fill, I had a couple low spots that needed filling. I also had some areas where the filler crumbled out, and they were very tiny.

A quick skim coat of filler easily fills these areas, and evens up the surface. Over fill when you skim the filler on the lettering. Again, this is because the filler sinks as it dries. Once it’s fully dry, sand the surface again. Use a block, and carefully level the inlay. Inspect and fill again if necessary. You can do this as many times as you need until you are happy with the fill.

The next article will detail how to finish the box, and how to make a set of pegs that are used to hold the lid in place. If you missed the previous articles, you can learn how to make the box, and bind the box, following the links.

diy wine ceremony box


If you have any questions on my DIY Wine Ceremony Box Project, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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