Year of the Dragon

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Project by mauibob posted 719 days ago 2110 views 16 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s my marquetry interpretation of a Chinese imperial Dragon, inspired by the Zodiac sign for the year 2012. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority, a symbol of intense power. To illustrate his radiating power, my marquetry Dragon includes a fiery tail (simulated with copper gilding) and, of course, a 22kt gilded gold tooth.

The marquetry box on frame measures approximately 5×7 1/8×5 1/8 inches.

I have always loved oriental designs, as you can tell from my past submissions to LJ. I decided on a Chinese Imperial Dragon for this project because of its Zodiac significance for 2012, but also because of my love of incorporating multimedia concepts in marquetry designs. Inlays (Chinese character for “Dragon” and the Dragon’s fiery eyes) and 22kt gold and copper gilding make this a somewhat unique marquetry box.

Materials used: Hawaiian koa, Macassar ebony, American holly, Sapele, Padauk, Maple, Chechen rosewood, Copper gilding, 24kt gold gilding, epoxy.

The marquetry sides were attached first to a mitered box made from maple. Before assembly, the sides were rabbeted at the top to allow a plywood panel to eventually drop in for the marquetry top. This gave me some elbow room to apply appropriate clamping for the marquetry side veneers before the top was added. The top was then added in two steps: the underside of a plywood panel was veneered with burl walnut (not illustrated) and then glued into the rabbet; and finally the marquetry piece for the top was applied to the newly established box top.

The scary part was then slicing the top off to form the lid. Finally, koa bandings were used to finish off the box.

An interesting side note: I picked up a very nicely constructed veneer press from David Coleman (Veneer Press) which I used in this project. I had been using all sorts of wooden cauls in the past for small projects like this (although I usually resort to a vacuum press for larger ones). This press was built like a battleship and, with its compact size, has been a great addition to my shop.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

30 comments so far

View handyrandyrc's profile


33 posts in 929 days

#1 posted 719 days ago

You amaze me. Great detail and intricate design.

View BTimmons's profile


2104 posts in 1110 days

#2 posted 719 days ago

Holy moly. I can’t imagine how many hours went into that. Just amazing.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Julian's profile


503 posts in 1315 days

#3 posted 719 days ago

Beautifully done. Hope you have more photos you can post while making this box. Another supberb marquetry project.

-- Julian

View majuvla's profile


3305 posts in 1492 days

#4 posted 719 days ago

Awsome marquetry!So much work arround it,beautifull

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View redryder's profile


2134 posts in 1727 days

#5 posted 719 days ago

The outside looks great. I would like to see the inside and hinges….............

-- mike...............

View shipwright's profile


4899 posts in 1423 days

#6 posted 719 days ago

Just another beauty Bob.
I always love to see your marquetry. You are one of my inspirations.
I never thought I’d use my press as much as I do but now when I’m doing marquetry it always has something in it. You will find it handy for lots more than just gluing up. Have you looked into heated metal cauls?

But I digress….......... a beautiful dragon on a fine box accomplished with your customary excellent skill, creativity and craftsmanship. A masterpiece.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 1703 days

#7 posted 719 days ago

I highly agree with Paul, the Shipwright and all other comments! By the way, have you looked up Paul’s Chevallet(sp?)?

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View BulldogDave's profile


1 post in 719 days

#8 posted 719 days ago

What an incredible project. Like the projects that you shared with me in Dayton, OH recently another beautiful piece of work.I would love to see the walnut burl on the inside. Thank you for commenting on the press and including Bob Langs post about it at PopWood.

View mauibob's profile


180 posts in 1692 days

#9 posted 719 days ago

Paul(s), I would love to go the chevalet route, but have to make some room in the shop first. Woodworking was originally a very part time hobby, but now that I’m retired I realize I made the shop area WAY too small! We’ve been clearing out a larger area in the basement, and I already have my greedy eyeballs on a spot for the chevalet!

Have not looked into heated cauls as of yet, Paul. I saw your notes on that, and it looks like a great trick to add.

Mike, I’ll put a photo up of the inside in a moment. I used Brusso hinges for the box—I like the solid stop feeling of those solid brass units. Pricey, but worth it.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View mauibob's profile


180 posts in 1692 days

#10 posted 719 days ago

I’ve uploaded a photo of the box inside. Nothing particularly special, but the walnut burl seems to add a bit of pizazz to an otherwise plain interior. The box will eventually be lined with a Chinese pattern paper, which I am still debating.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3861 posts in 1005 days

#11 posted 719 days ago

Beautiful work, truly impressive.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View MonteCristo's profile


2094 posts in 813 days

#12 posted 719 days ago

A work of art ! That burl on the inside top is gorgeous too !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View lanwater's profile


3076 posts in 1559 days

#13 posted 719 days ago

That’s a beautifull box.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View woodshaver's profile


2746 posts in 1978 days

#14 posted 719 days ago

Excellent work! You defiantly have a talent for this!

-- Tony C , My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

View Sodabowski's profile


2002 posts in 1458 days

#15 posted 719 days ago

Wow! ‘nuff said with that!

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

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