Cutting the line

I want to try doing some string inlay but know you have to have a way to cut the recess. After looking at a lot of options decided that the Lie-Nielsen Straight Line Cutter is a good choice due to its’ adjustability.

But since I have more time on my hands than money in my wallet, thought I would try my hand at making one. And to keep from having to make a blade I ordered one from Lie-Nielsen.

The first challenge was that I had no idea of the size of the head. It looks to be about 1-1/2″ thick so I went with that, and just happened to have a nice piece of hard maple that was that thickness. The length of the arm appears to be about 6″long, so used that.

I looked on the internet for any other pictures I could find of this, but any website that also sells this has the same picture. But I did find a video on Lie-Nielsen’s YouTube channel done by Steve Latta, the original maker of this cutter plus the other inlay tools, showing how to sharpen the blade. And watching him use it at the end thought that it looked to be about 6″ to 6-1/2″ long, so went with that. And the rabbet looks to be 1/2″ deep by 1″ in height.

Having decided those dimensions I laid out an ellipse that looked to be about the right size and made a copy of that. I use SketchUp a lot so I imported that into the program and made a model based on MY dimensions.

Having that done, the next thing was to find some brass flat stock and fittings but could not find that anywhere in my area. But I did have some aluminum flat stock and a steel knurled nut, so I used that.

Watching that sharpening video it seemed that the piece in front of the the blade (that the screw goes in) is shaped on the backside the prevent the blade from rotating when you are cutting the wood (which makes sense). So for that I used a finish washer and filed off opposing edges an amount equal to just a bit less than the blade thickness.

Here is my finished cutter:

I think I came pretty close, although I think Lie-Nielsen’s is a bit taller. I have not used it yet so cannot say how it performs,  but it should do alright (I hope).

Hugh Terry

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