OK, The French Veneer (at last) #4: Sand Shading and Organization

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 10-10-2014 12:57 AM 3747 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Reality Check Part 4 of OK, The French Veneer (at last) series Part 5: Drawer Front Marquetry Assembly »

With my colors mostly decided I went about cutting the pieces and dividing them into two groups. One group contained all the “universal” pieces. Those are the pieces that occur in all nine panels. The were assembled in one tray while the pieces that differ from flower to flower were organized in another tray. This second group includes the flower parts themselves and the parts of the leaves that directly contact the flowers. As each flower is different so are the contacting pieces.

The universal tray is mostly the green Poplar leaves and I had a little problem there in that my Poplar was not as thick as the other veneer. It is actually quite thick at 1/28” but that’s just not enough. I decided to experiment with laminating two layers. I knew this would work fine as I’ve done it before but I wasn’t sure about the heat of sand shading it.

This is what the laminated pieces look like cut.

Here’s a shot of a scrap piece that I practiced on to see if the Poplar would shade before the glue popped. I was happily surprised. it was just fine.

So on to the shading itself. I have to say that much of the organization and segregation of the pieces really took place during the shading exercise. Here is a look at most of the parts organized (poorly at this point) in a storage tray.

Most of the shading was done in the sand tray as shown below. The temperature varies around the tray, hottest in the center so more delicate parts stay to the outside.

I also shade some of the trickier and more delicate pieces with a spoon. using this method you can bring very hot sand up from the bottom of the tray and do lots of damage very quickly. You have to be careful.

I made this little video to show how I shade some of the very smallest bits. I generally don’t do this at the same time as the other shading. I like to do it during assembly so I can take the piece directly from the sand and while still on the pick, touch it to the glue brush and install it. I was too busy with the video to do that here.

When all the pieces are shaded the tray looks more like this. This is now the universal tray and only has pieces that will be in all panels.

Then it is put away to await assembly.

If you are thinking that the shading looks awfully severe in places, it does but when the surface is sanded much of that will go away and they wont look as “burned”. ......... I hope ….... :-)

Enough for tonight.

Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

14 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2816 days

#1 posted 10-10-2014 02:25 AM

I see patience and a beautiful project developing made of small pieces that make my eyes water just watching .
You have the patience of a saint and a skilled and seasoned craftsman .
I am starting to understand why thick veneer is of benefit in a project with small pieces like this that are just slightly larger than sawdust .
Sand Shading is interesting and is something to keep in mind as it may be useful elsewhere.


-- Kiefer

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3457 days

#2 posted 10-10-2014 03:22 AM

I wouldn’t want to try this but I sure am enjoying watching your progress..

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4073 days

#3 posted 10-10-2014 04:09 AM

Very nice Paul, You sure have improved since the wine box you brought to class..

View tomd's profile


2167 posts in 3919 days

#4 posted 10-10-2014 04:14 AM

When I see all those little parts in that tray my mind goes blank too much for me. Very interesting blog keep them coming I am enjoying every one.

-- Tom D

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2086 days

#5 posted 10-10-2014 05:34 AM

Ah, Pye defined craftsmanship as the workmanship of risk.

In other words, you start to build, and the more time (and money) you have invested, the greater the cost of a mistake.

whether you know it or not, yer into that process.

Have fun and make it work buddy!


-- Real_cowtown_eric

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3256 posts in 3861 days

#6 posted 10-10-2014 06:58 AM


It certainly is coming along nicely. I’m glad I can enlarge these pictures on the computer though, or I probably couldn’t see such tiny pieces!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View stefang's profile


15952 posts in 3483 days

#7 posted 10-10-2014 09:18 AM

Thanks for that lesson on sand shading Paul. It looks like you have completely overcome your earlier cutting problems just as I thought you would.The piece you are working on is absolutely stunning. Your color choices could not be better to show off the design. I have to admit that I find it scary seeing those tiny pieces and sand shading them to boot. I can see that 1/16” thick veneer helps with that, but I am wondering if that will be possible with the thin veneers. I also found your lamination very interesting, especially that the glue held in spite of the heat. I am enjoying your blog immensely both to see this beautiful work emerge and also to learn.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1869 posts in 3610 days

#8 posted 10-10-2014 10:07 AM

I’m enjoying following along and trying to get the gist of this. The patience this requires is incredible.

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

View SPalm's profile


5322 posts in 4031 days

#9 posted 10-10-2014 01:13 PM

Stunning work Paul.
Just stunning.
Thanks for showing us all the steps.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Woodbridge's profile


3574 posts in 2567 days

#10 posted 10-10-2014 08:05 PM

Thanks for this latest instalment. As a real beginner, I appreciate seeing the marquetry process unfold in each post.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View tinnman65's profile


1362 posts in 3563 days

#11 posted 10-10-2014 11:07 PM

Looks like things are coming along very nicely Paul.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2953 days

#12 posted 10-19-2014 08:53 PM

You are the marquetry master Paul

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3978 days

#13 posted 10-20-2014 09:16 PM

Paul, looks like you are making great progress. I thought that you had successfully laminated veneers together in a previous project? Regardless I remember Patrick saying you needed both heat and moisture to reverse HHG, in this case it looks like you are ok because you have the heat but the moisture is not sufficient to cause it to let go. Thanks for the video on your shading technique, I have to get a higher capacity burner because I can’t seem to get the sand hot enough to use the spoon technique, even with the thin veneers I have used so far. I hope you are right that the severity of the shading will be lessened with surface sanding. I’m crossing my fingers and my toes!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1573 days

#14 posted 04-23-2015 04:49 PM

I never knew. I thought it was all done with air brush or something.
I can now see that there is FAR more skill sets used in such work.

Thanks again for sharing. It is beautiful.

-- Brad, Texas,

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