WoodCentral's video reviews

Metal Inlay Techniques
   for Woodturning & Woodworking
Ted Sokolowski
DVD, 69 min., ©2012
Available from: Sokolowski Studios, $29.99

    This is a very good, nicely produced DVD on the use of powdered metal for inlaying designs into wood and wood turnings. Here's a chapter-by-chapter recap of the video...
    Chapter 1: Introduction
At the outset, Mr. Sokolowski discusses the advantage of his inlay techniques for salvaging lower grade stock by filling or hiding defects. I had to smile when he mentions saving money by salvaging "cheap" wood, because he fails to mention how much you will spend on metal powder, adhesive, spatulas and time. So maybe there is a false economy here; but, when you consider the cost of some of the exotic wood he uses, heís not entirely incorrect.
    Chapter 2: Getting Started (The Basics)
In this chapter, Sokolowski shows a piece of burl being made into a low vessel designed for a style of flower arranging called Ikebana. I love this style and appreciate his work. Methods are show on how to clean the voids, and several cautions are given. Ted does a very nice job throughout the entire DVD on personal safety. He mentions the hazards of the inlay material with the adhesives, dust, and the danger of turning cracked wood. All are well covered and explained. He details methods of filling to reduce the volume of powder metal used, in this chapter as well as later in the video. I would have liked a tighter closeup of the finished project. I wanted to see how tight the line was between the copper powder and the wood in the large coverage areas.
    Chapter 3: Carve and Inlay (Advanced Techniques)
In this chapter, Sokolowski nicely explains the tools and design methods he uses to create a salt and pepper mill, including his preference for power carving. He discusses his cutter choices, the direction of cut and methods of work. His design ideas on stopping the "visual path" with cross lines and arcs are very well explained and executed, as are his methods of adding the inlay materials and fixing mistakes and errors -- a definite high point to the video!
    Chapter 4: Laser Engraving and Inlay (Alternative Ideas)
Here, Ted presents laser engraving as an alternative for those might not have the confidence or skill to start hand-carving on a finished woodturning. Iíve always been impressed with laser engraving, and when you see the fine details that are derived from this technique, so will you. He gives you valuable references and tells you how to work with a local engraving shop if you want to get started. My personal experience is that within the past couple of years, imported laser engravers have made laser engraving much more accessible to hobbyists. There may still be quality issues with some imported models, but there are United States importers that can offer technical support for a small added cost.
    Chapter 5: Understanding your Materials (Troubleshooting)
Sokolowski concludes the DVD with a full explanation of metal powders and adhesives. Itís curious that he's chosen to place this important technical data at the end; personally, I would have preferred it at the beginning. Either way, it is a great explanation of metal particle size and its relationship to adhesive performance and the final results. He also addresses the use of shellac as a barrier to CA (cyanoacrylate) adhesive staining on the bare wood. That was something I was concerned about throughout the video. This is a chapter that may require a second look, or else have a pencil in hand to take notes.
    As the video nears the end, there is nice use of time lapse videography that reviews the the gluing phase of the inlay work, where he uses a specific sequence to "paint" in the CA to keep a wet edge. I appreciated the little bit of time lapse because I usually watch these things with my finger near the fast forward.
    There are also a couple of bloopers at the end of the DVD that show a side of Mr. Sokolowski that was not evident during the presentation. It would have been nice to see this more personal side sooner! He is a true artist with a wide range of experience that he is very willing to share. I personally own this DVD and feel it is definitely worth the investment of others.

... Richard Coers
January 1, 2016