The use of inlays as a way of decorating and creating visual interest has been popular in furniture for a long time. The process involves creating a groove in the surface of the panel – usually less than 1mm deep – and glueing in a line of inlay. Inlays can be a simple line of contrasting timber, a manufactured inlay banding made from combinations of various timbers or metals such as brass or aluminium.
Accuracy in creating the groove and dimensioning the inlay are critical to achieving the optimum fit which needs just enough tightness that will keep the inlay in place, but not so much that the edge of the groove will be damaged when inlay is being inserted.
There is no getting around it, the process of inlaying and cleaning back is something that has to be done by hand.