- Painted Game Table - Interior design knowledge for the creative lifestyle.

Simulated Inlay Game Table

For centuries games have held a dominant place within the traditions of families and the home. This painted game table incorporates a simulated inlay effect that fits well within this period style. The final result is unassuming with little ornamentation, but maintains a style and character of its own due to the darker inlayed wood contrasting with the lighter background. Tone on tone, this technique is one of my favorites, offering an opportunity to be creative while remaining uncomplicated in its final presentation.

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Color Palette

Colonial Maple


Dark Walnut



Step 1:

1. Beginning with an unfinished piece of furniture, I stain all the surfaces except for the top with Colonial Maple wood stain. 220 grit sandpaper insures that I start with a smooth finish in which to begin my pattern transfer. 


Step 2:

To get the proper proportions, I trace the top outside dimensions on tracing paper and cut the form out to use as my template. I then find the center point and mark it as a guide. Following the pattern provided in this book on page XX, I scale the image to my required size, lay my tracing paper template over the drawing and outline the pattern. I can now place my pattern onto the table top and secure it with tape. 

Using tracing paper allows me to see the table form beneath my drawing and guarantees my image is centered. Though I’ve use a circular table for this demonstration, the pattern provided works equally well on a square table top.

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Step 3:

Transferring the image

Sliding a sheet of transfer paper (page xx) under my pattern I begin to trace the forms out to leave an impression on the table top.


Step 4:

Preparing the ‘inlay’

This next procedure is the key to this treatment. Using a sharp razor blade/knife I incise into the wooden top, working over the outline image. A metal ruler is necessary to maintain straight lines. The incised pattern insures that the subsequent application of stain does not bleed past the pattern lines, creating the sharp, crisp lines necessary for the inlayed wood appearance.

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Step 5:

Apply the secondary stain, Dark Walnut, with a No. 1 brush. Stay just inside the incised lines and watch the unfinished wood pull the stain toward the edges, stopping just at the incise line.


Step 6:

. Continue this process, first incising the line with the sharp razor, then filling in with the Dark Walnut stain. Cutting along the curves details takes a bit more patience, and don’t worry if you go outside the lines of the drawing. You can expect a small amount of bleeding past the lines when you are working over cross grain areas.


Step 7:

Accent the table by adding lines as boarders. Choose unique details on your table (if present) to highlight. This introduces the secondary stain onto the lower portion of the table, creating a visually balanced and unified object.


Step 8:

When dry, I cover the top with my first wood stain, Colonial Maple. Apply loosely and generously with a brush.


Step 9:

Wipe excess stain with a clean rag.

Step 10:

A clear coat, satin sealer is my final application. 2 coats may be necessary, lightly sanding with 330 grit sandpaper in between application, always sanding in the direction of the wood grain.

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