How to Make an Inlay Jig for your Router Table and Cut/Install Perfect Inlay on your Custom Drum Set!

In Drum Building 101, Drum Building Tutorials, Drums, General Updates by Philip2 Comments

The follow section is taken right from the pages of “How to Make Custom Drums”. Like what you see? You might want to consider buying the full version to learn everything you need to know to be able to build your very own custom drum or drum set!

Making an Inlay Jig for your Router Table

Inlay’s can make your drums look pro and classy. This design is extremely easy to make and to use. Just cut a piece of laminated MDF to the size (width or length) of your existing router table then cut a 2×4 to the same size and screw the 2 together. (see picture) Make sure to counter sink your screws so they don’t get in the way.  All you need now are 2 clamps.

Cutting Inlay Grooves into your custom drum set

Cutting Inlay Grooves

1. Mark a straight line all the way across the router table that lines up exactly with the center of the router2

Centered Inlay

2. You need to take the length of the shell, divide by 2, and measure that distance away from the center line marked on your table. This picture is marked for a 1.5” bass drum hoop. Use clamps the secure the jig in place.

Straight Router Bit for cutting inlay3. Find the straight router bit size that you want for your inlay strip. You can find many different sizes online or at your local home improvement store.

Routing The Inlay Groove

4. Use heavy leather gloves for this part; you don’t want to cut your finger off! First you’ll need to adjust the router so that your first pass doesn’t take away much wood. You’ll need to cut the inlay in very small increments and test fit your inlay after each pass. The idea is to make it as flush as possible. Cut the grooveUsing the jig as a fence, keep the bottom of the fence always hard against the hoop/shell as you CAREFULLY spin it around, always keeping pressure going towards the fence and towards the bit. The slightest movement in any other direction can yield poor results. (also, you don’t need your fence to be as tall as the one in the picture. It only matters that you keep the hoop against the bottom part of the fence.)

Cut Your Inlay Strips

Cut your inlay strip

Measure Your Inlay Strips

1. To actually cut your inlay strip you need to measure the actual cut that you made in your shell, and then mark those measurements on the shell. Use a straight edge to transfer the mark down the wrap so you have you a straight line to cut.Test fit inlay strips for bass drum










Use Scissors to Cut The Inlay

2. Cut the inlay out using a very sharp pair of scissors. This cut has to be very precise, so go slowly and cut exactly on the line. Once it’s cut out, test fit it all the way around the shell. If there are any spots where the strip is too large, mark it and use your scissors to ever so slightly trim it down until it fits.

custom bass drum inlay strip install3. When you’re ready to install the strip, use painters tape to mask off areas of the hoop you don’t want covered in glue. Use contact cement on both the hoop and the stip. Allow it to dry for the manufacturer’s suggested dry time, then firmly stick them together.

Installing Smaller Inlay Strips

I use the “scrapbook adhesives” brand of super high tack photo tape (I usually find it at hobby lobby) for installing smaller inlays. It has a very strong bond and is easy to work with. Apply it to the back of your inlay strip, peel off the strip of dividing wax paper and then install it in your inlay groove.


.Custom Snare drum with scrapbook paper inlay

Scrapbook Paper for Inlay Strips

This drum’s inlay is actually strips of scrap booking paper. There are some really interesting designs that you might find if you’re looking for alternate inlay designs. You might also consider using wallpaper to wrap a drum…


Custom Snare drum inlay strip

Inlay Strips from Woodcraft

This drum’s inlay came from my local woodcraft store. They offer many different designs and sizes of wooden inlay strips that are also installed using the double sided tape method.

This drum’s inlay is aged pearl wrap from Drum Supply House. I installed it using the double sided tape method also.Custom drum pearl inlay strip

Have a question or a comment? Leave a comment to start a conversation! (I try to respond to all comments as quickly as possible!)


  1. Is this how Craviotto does their inlays?

  2. Author

    I don’t know exactly how Craviotto does it, but I do know that when using wooden inlay, you need to install the inlay as flush as you possibly can, and then you need to take a sander and sand the surface flush. You’ll add stain and finish AFTER you have sanded the surface of the shell flush!

    Good question.

    I’ll actually be addressing this and updating the eBook with a new process very soon.

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