Latta Straight Line Cutter Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

Latta Straight Line Cutter



Latta Straight Line Cutter

The Straight Line Cutter is for scribing inlay grooves parallel to an edge to receive a piece of stringing. It cuts grooves of various thickness depending upon the cutter. Maximum cutting distance from edge is 4-1/8" (10.47cm).

Hard Maple body and shaft. Blades are made from Swedish Spring Steel. Other parts are Brass and Steel. Blade Specs: Blades are made of Spring Steel hardened to RC 52. The standard blade is .032" (.762mm) thick. Thicker blades (.041", .055", and .062") are also available. Thicker blades are hardened to RC 45-50.

Click here to view our YouTube video on Sharpening the Straight Line Cutter.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the instructions for this tool.

Our collaboration with Educator/ Cabinetmaker, Steve Latta, began in 2006, when he approached us about designing a selection of inlay tools based on the tools he’d developed over many years of studying and creating 18th century furniture. Our inlay tools are the first commercially available tools designed specifically for stringing inlay. These tools cut precisely and are easily adjusted. Additional blade thickness offer maximum design flexibility.


Mount blade so the side with two cutting teeth faces the fence (body). The single, center tooth should be mounted on the outside, away from the Maple body. Positioning it as such makes it easier to work into a corner.

When disassembling, be careful not to lose the spacer & pressure pad under the thumbscrew that locks the beam.

Cutting a Straight Line:

Set the cutter so that it projects out from the Shaft approximately 3/32". The tool is designed to cut going in either direction but practice will help establish a personal preference. Running the fence against the edge of the work, begin with light scoring cuts to define the edges of the groove. Increase pressure until a depth of approximately a heavy 1/16” has been achieved.

Oddly, cutting cross-grain is easier than cutting with the grain because the freed wood particles are small and do not tend to clog the groove or interfere with the path of the tool. Still, blow away particles as they build on the surface. When going with the grain, be very conscious of shavings building up in the groove or in the cutting teeth. Check for these often and remove them when present. They can clog a groove and deflect the cutting action. They can also inhibit the depth of cut leading to a rough or rounded edge. If tearing seems to be occurring, examine the tips of the teeth. If there are any flat spots, indicated by a reflection at the very tip of a tooth, the point needs to be re-established Keep in mind that soft or spongy woods are more prone to tearing.

For more information on using the Straight Line Cutter and how to use stringing inlay in your work, we recommend Steve Latta’s DVD Fundamentals of Inlay: Stringing, Line & Berry.

Sharpening the Cutter:

The cutter is filed similar to a crosscut saw and the tip of each of the three teeth should come to a point that slices rather than tears the fibers. Grind outside bevels on an edge sander, sanding belt or grinding wheel, using a medium grit belt (120-150). To file the inside edges, use a 4” double extra slim tapered file. Hold the file perpendicular to the blade, and angled at 40º (this will line it up with both bevels in the same gullet). File lightly, touching both teeth at the same time, until you no longer see light reflecting off the points. Move to the next gullet, angle your file 40º in the opposite direction and file both edges of these teeth. Make sure that the tips of all teeth remain even. After filing, smooth the faces of the cutter on a honing stone.


Keep tool clean and occasionally coat with oil. A 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine is what we use.


Materials and workmanship are guaranteed for the life of your tool. Call for repairs or replacement parts. We are available for advice if you ever have a problem using your tool.

Proposition 65 Notice:

Bronze and brass alloys contain lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.