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OK, The French Veneer (at last)

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Blog series by shipwright updated 04-19-2015 05:25 AM 17 parts 43073 reads 478 comments total

Part 1: A tribute to my mentors

09-30-2014 06:11 AM by shipwright | 38 comments »

It seems like only yesterday that I built my first chevalet from a few photos on the internet and began to try to figure out how to use it. Well it wasn’t yesterday and it wasn’t last year either. It was almost four years ago and while I did learn on my own and produced some reasonably good pieces of work, things really started to ramp up for me when I attended The American School of French Marquetry in Feb of 2012 and 2013. The skill training was invaluable but the inspiration...

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Part 2: Beginnings

10-02-2014 01:07 AM by shipwright | 16 comments »

I put a lot of thought into what the first project would be for my fine sawn veneer before I decided on this particular idea. I would have to say there was also a lot of “putting it off” involved but once the project had been chosen the next question was where to start. I wanted the piece to have interest in both decoration and in function (hence the cantilevered drawers) so before anything else I had to make sure the mechanics were sound. Here are a few shots of the hinge comp...

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Part 3: Reality Check

10-07-2014 01:03 AM by shipwright | 24 comments »

This entry is a little on the philosophical side. It is about expectation and reality (one of which is quite easy to achieve). I guess that each of us is entitled to become good at something in our lives if we work hard and I can’t complain as I think I was able to become a pretty good boat builder. The trouble is I want more. I want to be a pretty good marqueteur now …. but I want to be able to start at 60+ and still achieve it. We’re just never satisfied are we. I to...

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Part 4: Sand Shading and Organization

10-10-2014 12:57 AM by shipwright | 14 comments »

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...

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Part 5: Drawer Front Marquetry Assembly

10-17-2014 01:10 AM by shipwright | 33 comments »

With all the cutting and sand shading done and all the pieces properly organized, it’s time to have some fun. If you’ve done everything right up to this point, the assembly really is fun as you get to see the marquetry image materialize before your eyes. Before I get into that however, a couple of notes on things I’ve learned so far on this project. The first is the eyesight / cutting accuracy issue that I had when started using this hard veneer. I did a little resear...

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Part 6: Drawers, Dowels, and Dovetails

10-28-2014 03:32 AM by shipwright | 23 comments »

Well all the colour decisions have been made and the flowers are glued in. The next job is to build a jewellery box to glue them onto. I have decided on Baltic Birch plywood for the carcase because it is very important that the top and bottom do not warp. With no ends on the carcase itself the outer reaches of both are supported only on the back and inner edges.The bottom, back, and top are dovetailed and the dividers are in dados. I veneered both sides of the bottom and dividers but won̵...

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Part 7: Messing With a Master

11-23-2014 11:35 PM by shipwright | 24 comments »

My last entry here was almost a month ago and I was about to leave for Arizona for the winter. Well, I’ve been here (Az.) for almost a month now and I’m just getting around to the jewellery box. When I left off I had just dovetailed the drawers and dry assembled the whole box to assure myself that going on was in fact, a good plan. There’s a little more to the drawers but I’ll deal with that another time. This entry is dedicated to Pierre Gole, one of the truly gift...

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Part 8: Tuning the Cantilevered Drawers

12-01-2014 12:42 AM by shipwright | 21 comments »

Now that I have the plan in place for the end marquetry there is a little housekeeping to be done with the drawers. The pull out ones in the centre column are straightforward and relatively easy so I have already glued the marquetry to them. The tricky ones are the cantilevered drawers in the side columns.When last seen they looked like this. They were glued up but had no bottoms. The bottoms will be 1/4” plywood veneered both sides with walnut and ebonized. Because the plywood c...

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Part 9: Just Some Pretty Pictures

12-04-2014 12:22 AM by shipwright | 31 comments »

Once the drawer mechanics were sorted out to my satisfaction, I was able to apply the marquetry to the last six and get a first coat of shellac on them to protect the surface until finishing time. I was prepared for it but the beauty and colours of the sawn veneers took me by surprise. I’m guessing that the vibrancy of the colours has something to do with the fact that the logs were not abused prior to the veneer being cut as is the case with slicing. Whatever the cause, the result i...

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Part 10: Ten days of cutting .... but the end motifs are done

12-17-2014 01:27 AM by shipwright | 33 comments »

With the design decided and the drawer front marquetry installed the time finally came to tackle the cutting of the end motifs. This is by far the most ambitious motif I have ever attempted and I can say in all honesty, I wasn’t all that sure I could do it. I decided to use the painting in wood technique as the motif lends itself to the style and there were to be only two copies. I made up a packet with two layers of Poplar face to face, two layers of Ebony face to face and three lay...

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Part 11: Mounting the end motifs

12-30-2014 05:44 AM by shipwright | 35 comments »

First off, here’s a photo that shows why I like to use self adhesive shelf paper for initial assembly. It allows me to set the piece up with equal kerfs, (painting in wood and Boulle styles) sub in flower colors as explained in the last segment, and see my shading as it progresses. In the photo you can see one of the pieces has been removed and shaded (lying on the plexiglas, top) and you can see the progress of the shading in the motif. The low tack adhesive makes this removal and repl...

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Part 12: Bump-out Verticals

01-11-2015 04:14 AM by shipwright | 24 comments »

I left off last time with this photo from “Masterpieces of Marquetry” that I chose to adorn the bump-out verticals where the centre drawers stick out past the side ones. After cutting the side motifs these little strips were easy, almost relaxing marquetry therapy. These are the painting in wood packet layers employing Curly Maple, Espenille, Padauk, Pink Ivory, and Poplar on an Ebony ground. Here is the packet, ready to cut with my Inkscape tracing glued on top. ...

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Part 13: 21st Century Painting in Wood

01-21-2015 01:15 AM by shipwright | 12 comments »

Up until now I had been laying out my painting in wood layers by hand using lines that extended beyond the edges of the veneer area and after placing the veneer on the drawing, redrawing them on it to indicate the cut out areas. This is basically the “old way” and it works very well …. most of the time. A drawing that has been used for this sort of layout looks like this. As this one was going to be large and somewhat complex, I decided to try another way. I retrace a...

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Part 14: The promised pretty pictures

01-31-2015 04:47 AM by shipwright | 29 comments »

Last entry I had just started cutting the top marquetry. This is the most complex piece I have attempted and yes that was also the case when I cut the ends. This cutting and assembly took between 55 and 60 hours but it is done at last.I now have all the marquetry cut for the jewellery box and all that remains is sand shading, pressing,and assembly...... it doesn’t sound too bad when you say it quickly. :-) As promised, this entry has pretty pictures ( at least after endless cutting ...

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Part 15: Top Sand Shading and Assembly

02-15-2015 05:40 AM by shipwright | 42 comments »

Warning: Lots of photos! Here’s my setup for sand shading one piece at a time. The marquetry has been preliminarily assembled on sticky shelf paper, a sheet of thin acrylic covers most of it, and the sand is hot. I remove one piece, shade it in a spoon of hot sand, and return it. Then I repeat a thousand times (give or take). I am still developing this way of doing things but it is working very well and I have complete control of how the picture grows as I am shading. H...

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Part 16: Glue-Up and Details

03-23-2015 09:44 PM by shipwright | 36 comments »

With the marquetry all done and mounted the focus turns to getting the carcass finished and glued up and to the finishing details. First up is to get the back piece veneered with 1/16” Walnut inside and out and the R.E. magnets and concave end trim pieces installed. I ran the top through the drum sander to get it all levelled out. Then the carcass parts got ebonized and got a preliminary finish prior to glue-up. A quick check assembly at this point pointed out the n...

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Part 17: Home Stretch- French Polish and Pig Suede

04-19-2015 05:25 AM by shipwright | 43 comments »

Well I’m back home in Canada and after getting a bunch of household maintenance jobs out of the way and spending a very long time getting the surfaces perfectly filled, I have finally started on the finishing. It won’t be long now! Here are a few shots and a couple of videos I made today. At this point there are only two or three bodying sessions in the polish but it is coming up really well. This is the first trial fit of the burgundy pig suede that will...

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