In 2019 we decided to convert the dining room floor to hardwood.
I asked my wife "Do you want inlays to match the kitchen floor?" "Of course!" was the reply.
I asked my flooring guy if he wanted to do them or if I should. He said "You do it, my knees don't want to"
Here are the steps:
Make a template. Here are some dimensions:
1. Space between the stripes: 1" 2. Stripe width: 1/2" 3. Gap between stripe and box: 1/2"
The template is sized to be used with a guide collar on the router. You might be able to see a small block on the left end of the lower slot. The template layout is for a square corner. These 45 degree corners need a shorter slot on the lower opening.
I do a test run on a chunk of plywood or anything big enough to allow the full template to be used.
Next lay out the design. The pencil marks are hard to see here.
Then locate the template. Two nails are used. The left nail is placed so the hole will be in the next set of slots. The right nail hole will be covered with filler later.
Here is a closer view.
Cut the pattern and move the template. I make the cut in 2 or 3 shallow passes. The grooves are deep enough to reach the top of the tongue and groove joint in the flooring. Note the cardboard set to limit the travel of sawdust. The piece of old carpet pad is for my knees.
Flip the template to cut the other half of the pattern. Again, I place a nail so the hole lands under the inlay.
Then cut second half of the pattern.
Use the short slot in the template to cut connecting groove. Get ready to cut sharp corners.
Here you can see the nail holes that will be under the inlay strips.
Now the corners are sharp.
The next task is to cut a bunch of walnut sticks that are a tight fit in width. Use the practice piece to test the size of your inlay stock. Ideally you want a snug fit. If it's a little loose that's not a big deal. The floor installer used filler to take care of tiny gaps and nail holes. Make the strips a little thicker (1/32" is plenty) than the depth of the router cut. The floor sander will level them out easily.
Trim each strip to exact length, add glue and tap into place. The most important place for a tight fit is between the inlay pieces. The wood filler is contrasting in color and will show up in any gaps between the inlay pieces.
Repeat until finished.
This project took about 20-25 hours.
Here is what the square corner pattern looks like. They were made with the same template back in 2001.