Facets, the Next Logical Step #3: Veneering and Marquetry, (What was I thinking?)

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 12-27-2010 10:35 PM 3497 reads 2 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Planning the Base Part 3 of Facets, the Next Logical Step series Part 4: Dying, Part 1: I don't believe what just happened! »

OK, so we have a box and we have a base. The easy bit is over. On to the scary as hell bit. As I started to contemplate the possible pitfalls in these next steps I really started to wonder if I could carry it off at all without glaring errors that I would be unable to live with. As of this writing that feeling has abated only a little. Oh well if it wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be worth the time, would it.

Before Starting on the outside the inside veveering has to be done so, matching grain as well as the material allowed, I glued up the spalted maple interior. This is the back panel and as you can see the veneer here covers a good part of the hinge, adding considerably to it’s strength.

Gluing up the twelve pentagons uses up almost half of my larger bag.

Here, the top half veneers are laid out in their final arrangement. The background will be bubinga veneer with a little dye to bring out it’s full glory. The center pentagon will need very little bubinga so it has had the appropriate pieces added to a “sacrificial” piece.

I made a check here to be sure things were still laying out well and then cut the pieces of the photo into their respective sections for cutting of the individual pieces.

This is the leaf marquetry, all glued up. Any miscuts on this piece from here on in will be quite a problem to fix.

This photo shows the central concept of double bevel marquetry. The inlay piece, here the bubinga, is double sided taped on top of the field piece, here the maple, and the cut is made at an angle that will allow the top cutout to fit perfectly into the space cut in the bottom layer.

Now, with the center pentagon cut close to final size, the radial components are given a final check against the actual box parts to make sure that, when aligned with the now immovable center parts, they still fit on the backgrounds. This is where it starts to get scary.

The bubinga veneers are still oversize and the maple leaf is an amorphous thing so I’m thinking that I still have room for error. Not so much when you think about it. Once the inlay pieces are cut to index with the center piece You are pretty much tied into a zero tolerance for error situation through final assembly. This will include location of the veneers on the box pieces exactly, with no slip in glue-up. This is about where the “What was I thinking?” thing came up. It’s a lot tricker than a box.

I decided that I was asking too much here so I thought that I would to try to install a small escape route. If something were to go off a little in glue up (and it probably will) I could save it if the leaf edges all crossed the pentagon margins at close to 90 degree angles. Then I could shrink all the pieces the same amount but take a little more off one side than the other to re-align them…..maybe. Not much room for error but it may be enough. Here I’m indexing a side panel to the center before tracing the outline (with the above alterations).

One hurdle behind me now. The pieces are all cut and they align nicely (now). I’m really thanking my lucky stars for having dropped the idea of running the tip of one or two leaves over a side or the bottom of it’s panel and onto the next.

All sanded up and ready for dying. The fits are acceptable but I have the hugest respect for the great scrollers on this site. Make no mistake, this only looks good because the maple leaf is not a rigid shape that must be accurately replicated. I find sharp turns to be particularly challenging.

Next up will be a segment on the dying of the leaf. I’m trying to expand on what I did in “Cabinetree” and develop some solutions (no pun intended) to some of the “dye as watercolor” challenges. The leaf will be all one color, green this time, but I am trying to use subtle shadings to make it more realistic than the “fall leaves” on the other box.

Thanks for checking in.

I’m still having fun and I hope it’s still interesting some of you and I still hope that it’s encouraging some of you to help develop this dying technique. I’ve only scratched the surface here.

Thanks again, please comment, question, suggest or whatever.


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

19 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7237 posts in 3411 days

#1 posted 12-27-2010 11:22 PM

That is great … can’t wait to see the finished item although I am enjoying the journey as well..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View mickyd's profile


31 posts in 3194 days

#2 posted 12-27-2010 11:25 PM

Looks fantastic. The real fun is about to begin…..the dying of the leave.

View SPalm's profile


5321 posts in 3939 days

#3 posted 12-27-2010 11:29 PM

Wow Paul, that is really cool. I love the contrast and grain directions of the leaf. You have a very good eye for design.

I see what you mean by continuing a leaf section onto a third side; too many things to go wrong. Yikes. So far you seem to be pulling it off. I am humbled.

Question: When covering the inside of the box, you are veneering an already edged board. How are you going to trim back the veneer to the angled edge? Just a sharp knife? I guess the same problem occurs when you cover the outside.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4149 days

#4 posted 12-27-2010 11:37 PM

This project is really coming along terrific and your craftsmanship (and nerves of steel) are amazing Paul. I would have wasted a whole day just contemplating all the ways I was going to screw this part up. This truly is inspirational. Looking forward to the next installment… keep up the great work!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View shipwright's profile


8006 posts in 2855 days

#5 posted 12-27-2010 11:44 PM

Thanks Steve and yeah …. so far.

In the first segment of this blog I added a solid edge to the sides that will be exposed when the box opens. It may or may not ultimately show as I’m toying with a black edging added after veneering to match the base and accent the separating line.
You’ve really nailed the big one with that question. It puzzled me for a long time but I think I will set up my ShopSmith 10ER (1950) so that the table matches mt 31 3/4 degree angle and then final dimension the edges with the disc sander. For those who aren’t SS people, you can advance the spinning sanding disc toward the piece, clamped in a jig in the table, with great precision by advancing the quill, which is like lowering the chuck in a drill press only horizontal. It will be the most critical operation I have to do and it will be my oldest tool that I use.

Chip, My nerves are becoming quite malleable steel at this point and I spent A WHOLE NIGHT awake thinking about how many ways there are to screw up this part! ... and I’m not anywhere near through the bad part yet. Ya gotta love it.

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

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3365 days

#6 posted 12-28-2010 12:40 AM


View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3127 days

#7 posted 12-28-2010 01:10 AM

Nice job Paul can I ask when you bevel cut the veneer design (this is the window method I assume) do you glue the insert design into the field at this point & if so what glue do you use? superglue ,PVA or tape

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View shipwright's profile


8006 posts in 2855 days

#8 posted 12-28-2010 02:08 AM

Thanks Trevor
I can’t glue the inlays in yet because I have to dye the pieces first. If it were conventional marquetry or the router inlays that I’ve done before (see projects) I would glue the inlays in first, then apply the whole to the substrate but here the tricky thing is that the whole can’t be sanded level after the veneers are assembled because of the dye so either I’ll have to edge glue the veneer set and vac bag it flat or assemble the veneer set with veneer tape and vac bag it to the substrate in order to keep everything absolutely flat. As for glue, I assemble sub-assemblies like the individual leaf marquetry with CA for the speed. In the past I have used PVA to assemble veneer pieces. I have found however that a couple of weeks after the piece is finished I start seeing all the veneer joints on the surface, in the right lighting, as slightly depressed. I understand that this is the PVA glue shrinking. That’s why I now do these vac bag glue-ups with urea formaldehyde glue.
Hope I answered your question.

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

View SPalm's profile


5321 posts in 3939 days

#9 posted 12-28-2010 02:14 AM

Paul, what about a beveled router plate with a flush trim bit? I am trying to do something like that right now, but I only have to tilt it at 10 degrees, so it seems more doable. I guess your corners are pretty sharp too.

Just a thought,
Back at ya’

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3075 days

#10 posted 12-28-2010 02:30 AM

This is going to be a wonderful project and I am looking forward to your progress.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View shipwright's profile


8006 posts in 2855 days

#11 posted 12-28-2010 02:36 AM

I’ve given a lot of thought to the implement of destruction I want to use and because the edge will be so fragile and have so many grain orientations, I really like the sandpaper idea and the old ShopSmith has the mechanics for the task nailed. It’s perfect.

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

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3133 days

#12 posted 12-28-2010 04:32 AM

You know Paul… My bride has mentioned she is scared of all the thoughts and ideas that float around in my head from time to time….. I got to say I think you got me beat…. I’m impressed bud. You are one sick wood working fool! You rock and I tip my hat to you my friend….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View shipwright's profile


8006 posts in 2855 days

#13 posted 12-28-2010 05:46 AM

Thanks Dan,
I’ll take that as a compliment. My wife just shakes her head.

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

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3133 days

#14 posted 12-28-2010 05:58 AM

lol…. Paul mine does too….lol

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Schwieb's profile


1860 posts in 3518 days

#15 posted 12-28-2010 02:58 PM

Mine does three…..............

This is neat Paul. a deliberately complex project. I’m enjoying the marquetry technique lesson. I’ve only ever seen the double bevel done on a slanted table and a type of fret saw with a deep bow. (I made my own)

You continue to raise the bar.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

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