I am currently accepting commissions for swinging day beds, live edge tables, and floating shelves. Free local delivery for furniture within 160 miles from Arley, Alabama.
Inlays in woodworking go by many names including bow tie, bowtie, butterfly, sticher, dutchman, and many others. Having been disappointed with bowties I purchased for my live edge tables, I bought the equipment to make my own.
I tried various angles, lengths and shapes resulting in a well proportioned and aesthetically pleasing design that is easy to inlay. As to the shape, inlays with acute angles in the corners are very difficult to chisel. Concerning a 3/4" vs. 1/2" thick bow tie inlay, I found the 3/4" required more passes with the router than the 1/2" and there is no functional difference in stabilizing the slab. Anything thinner than 1/2", I was concerned about it splitting during insertion if the fit was tight. However with some exotic woods that are very hard, 3/8" is thick enough. 1/2" is ideal in my opinion when possible.
I've tried all the techniques to inlay my bowties. What works best for me is to simply hold the bowtie down, outline it with a 0.5 mm pencil at a 45 degree angle. I then score the wood with a utility knife just inside of the line. First a light pass to maintain control, then several deeper passes. Start from the corners so you don't pass point. With a plunger router and an upward spiral bit, I hog out the slab. On the first pass, I stay 1/8 inch away from the score mark and rout from the center out. The less material you remove the better you can control the router. After finishing the center on the second pass, I then go back and make several passes coming as close as possible to the edge without touching it. The less material you remove, the greater control you have. Finish the edges and corners with a sharp chisel. Never leverage your chisel against the edge, that will make the hole bigger. To ease insertion, I recommend beveling the bottom edge. If spanning a gap remember not to bevel in the gap area. If your edges are not as tight as you would like, steam with an iron before the glue sets.