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Router Marquetry

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 10-23-2010 08:05 PM 5348 reads 17 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I hope this hasn’t been covered before. It is a technique that I designed myself but it can’t be original. If you’ve looked at my projects you’ll know that I like to play with veneers and inlays. The way I do it is a little different. I use a standard cheap ($30 ) router inlay bushing set, but instead of spending a lot of time “grounding out” the field piece I cut both the inlay and the field out of thick (1/8” +or-), shop-cut veneer. This is where the inlay – marquetry line blurs a bit. I am making the assumption that the viewer understands the normal use of these router inlay sets.
The pros of this system are:
1) that you can quickly and easily do large inlays that either would present problems by being larger than your router base or would take forever to ground out.
2) you can use larger field pieces than you could double bevel cut on your scroll saw
3) you run no chance of ruining the field, which in a complex, picture style, layered piece would be a disaster. You can ruin the inlay piece itself but it can be redone with no damage to the already completed work.

The cons are: You will need a vacuum bag. This is not much of a problem however as you can make one like mine from scratch or from a kit for a few hundred dollars.

Here are some examples that would be difficult to do any other way.

The process of building an inlaid base for a ShopSmith 10 ER is explained in this web album:
http://picasaweb.google.com/113532082003635114486/RouterInlayHowTo?feat=directlink

Please feel free to ask questions.

Thanks for viewing

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/



17 comments so far

View mickyd's profile

mickyd

31 posts in 1859 days


#1 posted 10-23-2010 08:14 PM

I have always marveled at seeing this type of work. It is definitely on my ‘got to try it’ list. Outstanding work.

View RonPeters's profile

RonPeters

708 posts in 1602 days


#2 posted 10-23-2010 08:23 PM

How does vacuum bagging it help? It seems one could glue it up and sand it down to level. I would think you’d have to sand it anyway?

Thanks for sharing your process!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View shipwright's profile (online now)

shipwright

5226 posts in 1520 days


#3 posted 10-23-2010 08:31 PM

Without a vacuum bag or a very cumbersome and massive press it would be almost impossible to apply enough pressure equally over this large an area to effectively glue down a 1/8” veneer. You could, I suppose use contact cement, but I’m not a fan of that in furniture.
Yes it does need sanding (or scraping) afterwards. The vacuum bagging is for the final attachment of the whole veneer to the substrate. It isn’t required to insert the inlays.

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Wingstress's profile

Wingstress

329 posts in 2237 days


#4 posted 10-23-2010 10:45 PM

Hey great job. I’ve used the same technique. My biggest problem is doing letters. Finding a font that the inlay kit can do has been problematic. It seems you did a good job with yours. Do you know of any fonts that can be done pretty easily or do you just freehand the letters? Check out my longboard post. I made templates just like yours…
I like the use of the pink foam underneath. How do you stop the veneer from moving when cutting? I “sandwiched” mine with the template and another piece of hardboard with some 5-star knobs. But, the veneer still moved, so I used double sided tape. The only trouble was that the double sided tape was too strong so I broke the veneer when removing it. I ended up sticking blue painters tape on the double sided tape to make a less strong tape, but that took a long time and a lot of tape. Any advice on holding the veneer down would be greatly appreciated. Also, any tips on doing letters would be appreciated. I would really like to write “IN BALANCE LONGBOARDS” on one of my boards, but I can’t imagine doing a template for it…
Below is a link to my post along with some other template pictures I thought you might like…

Great job on your table and thanks for the Blog! I also “invented” the technique, but knew someone else had to be doing it. Glad I found you…

Click for details
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-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View shipwright's profile (online now)

shipwright

5226 posts in 1520 days


#5 posted 10-23-2010 11:57 PM

I just checked out your boards….Nice!

I know what you mean about lettering. The problem is that one of the limitations with the bushing sets is that you have to choose whether you want sharp outside corners or sharp inside corners and with lettering you almost always need both. The only lettering I’ve done is the 10 ER table and it is a (near) copy of the ShopSmith logo. It worked only because it’s large scale and even then the inside corners are bad (bottom of the line intersection in the “T”) I’ve been playing around with patterns in a pin router where you use the same spiral router bit but different size pins for inlay and field. It works and defeats the above problem but as yet I can’t get a perfect match on my home made pin router. Anyway, I think I’ve gone about as far as I can on router inlays and have just bought a DeWalt scroll saw. I think the only way for me to grow here is to move into real marquetry.

On the hold down problem, usually I just clamp the pattern, veneer, foam and a side of my bench or table saw together with a couple of C clamps. I have used double sided tape without problems. I think if you are using actual (ie: much thinner) veneer that may be the difference. Have you tried packing tape or veneer tape on the veneer before cutting?

Glad to know another of the” inventors” of this technique. I’m sure there are hundreds of us.

Paul

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View A10GAC's profile

A10GAC

190 posts in 1800 days


#6 posted 10-24-2010 12:06 AM

That sailboat is amazing….nice work.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View Wingstress's profile

Wingstress

329 posts in 2237 days


#7 posted 10-24-2010 12:43 AM

I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who can’t figure out letters. Yes I was using “true” veneer – very thin. I’ve never done scroll saw marquetry, but its not that hard from what I’ve heard. All the other marquetry I’ve done has been with a razor blade. But, for large projects like yours, a router is the way to go. I wish they sold a 1/16” inlay kit. That would allow for a much smaller corner to be cut.

Keep the posts coming and welcome to Ljs.

Tom

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View RonPeters's profile

RonPeters

708 posts in 1602 days


#8 posted 10-24-2010 03:46 AM

Thanks for the explanation!

Where do you get/or how do you make, a vacuum bag? I suspect my shop vac has all the suction I need?

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View shipwright's profile (online now)

shipwright

5226 posts in 1520 days


#9 posted 10-24-2010 03:53 AM

No, your shop vac isn’t the thing but your compressor will probably do it. I built this one; http://www.joewoodworker.com/veneering/welcome.htm and two vinyl bags, one 4’ x8’ and one about half that size. The press works great and I couldn’t live without it. I use it almost every week.

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Wingstress's profile

Wingstress

329 posts in 2237 days


#10 posted 10-24-2010 04:18 AM

Hey Ron, a real inexpensive way to go is to get a manual vacuum press. Go to http://www.roarockit.com/tap.php?id=13 The site has instructional videos and supplies. You should be able to get set up for about $50. Its a great way to start without spending a bunch of money on a pump. I have used it without any problems. Maybe some day I will upgrade, but until then, this is a perfect vacuum bag solution…

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2280 posts in 1647 days


#11 posted 10-24-2010 04:23 AM

Very nice work Paul!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View lanwater's profile (online now)

lanwater

3096 posts in 1656 days


#12 posted 10-24-2010 06:16 AM

Great job ShipWright.

I also used 1/8 sapele on the Drawers face of the raised panel chest that I blogged about.
I used carpet tape to hold the material to the template. Mine was very simple and nothing complex as your work.

The inlay kit is definetely handy. I have hit a block with that in the sense the bit is 1/8 and angles are problematic. I do see that you have very little space between the the flower petals on the first picture.
Were they done one at the time?

Thanks for posting.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View cathyb's profile

cathyb

757 posts in 1966 days


#13 posted 10-24-2010 06:40 AM

WOW!!!! I must try this….......oh, yeah!

-- cathyb, Hawaii, www.cathyswoodworking.com

View shipwright's profile (online now)

shipwright

5226 posts in 1520 days


#14 posted 10-24-2010 07:19 AM

Yes Abbas, the flowers are five pieces each.

Thanks Cathy

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4422 posts in 1758 days


#15 posted 10-24-2010 12:34 PM

Paul, thanks very much for this. The bag press is something I’ll be following up on.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

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