We have long had a debate with one of our friends (that does finishing and restoration finishes for a living) on ‘How to do an inlay and then stain the wood without staining the inlay’. He told me it would be nearly impossible unless I found a way to mask off only the inlay areas really well so there would be no bleed from the stain. It would be very difficult at best because with inlay there is a lot of sanding involved and you don’t want to sand the finish off the board…

I took this on as a challenge – I love challenges! For me, it’s finding out what works or doesn’t – learning a new skill or quit wasting my time!

This was my experiment:
Top left is quarter-sawn Oak with a rose inlay, top right I hand painted a water based liquid mask over the unfinished inlay. Bottom left we stained the Oak with a walnut stain (which was too dark for my liking, but great for my sample). Now I had to get the masking stuff off my bare wood which was a task all on it’s own. I used a damp scrubby sided sponge to get it all off. Once it dried, I lightly sanded and sprayed the sample with a clear enamel. Finished sample is the bottom right. It worked, though I do not think I would try this on a large project – but great for a small one.