I have been doing a little scroll sawing here and there for quite a few years along with my regular woodworking. This has been mostly fretwork to date and a couple of experiments with marquetry type work, so my skills are still under development. I am not sure that the project picture below can be called marquetry, but it isn’t inlay or intarsia, so it’s that’s what I’m calling it for now.
I can only get veneers by mail order. I feel that this is somewhat like buying a cat in a sack, plus I’m a little shaky on the planning side so I’m not sure how to go about choosing and ordering the appropriate veneers beforehand. I can easily cut veneers in my bandsaw from solid wood, but the selection of interesting woods available to me is extremely limited here in Norway. Another issue is that I like the idea of using thicker wood for my work for reasons even I don’t fully understand.
MY SOLUTIONS TO WORKING WITH THICKER STOCK
My answer to these ‘perceived’ problems is to cut the pattern cut-outs and the inserts separately with a heavier blade, #5 for example, instead of the usual double bevel or stacked 90deg. cutting like with packets. This has an added advantage that I can use a relatively thick blade even with very detailed patterns because I am not forced to made continuous cuts and turn sharp corners.
Cutting pattern cut-outs and the corresponding inserts separately creates a new problem, namely accuracy. First I tried doing the pattern cut-outs and then tracing them from the top using semi-transparent paper to make a pattern for the insert piece. That didn’t work out so well. Next i tried using two copies of the pattern, one for the cut-out and another for the insert piece. Using this method, I cut the hole on the pattern line and the insert on the outside of the pattern line. This produced better results, but it didn’t account for inaccuracies in the original pattern cut-outs.
My final and successful method was to double tape a 1/16” piece of veneer the same size as the workpiece on the bottom with carpet tape. That left me with a perfect and detachable pattern of the pattern cut-outs, similar to a stencil. I used separate veneer pieces for each set of non-adjacent cut-outs. The cut-outs were then easily traced around the inside edges of those cut-out veneers onto to the insert work pieces and cut outside the line. This method worked extremely well with the following pro’s and con’s:
1. The veneer patterns were easy to mark with such a thin stencil and accurately reflected the cut-outs to be filled.
2. An insert piece could be easily retraced and re-cut when a better match was necessary.
3. No blade insert holes to drill or patch.
4. There are no gaps left between the cut-outs and the inserts.
5. Blades are thicker and stiffer and therefore last longer and cut better.
6. Saves wood, as inserts can be cut from small and random pieces.
7. Grain orientation is easy to determine as the stencil-like outline pattern is actually a window.
1. This method requires twice a many cuts as the double bevel method, so not as productive.
2. Some re-cutting of insert pieces is still necessary, how much depending on skill level and concentration.
EXAMPLE OF FIRST TRY WITH MY ‘NEW’ METHOD
This first piece is not as well done as I would like, but I know I will get better at it with practice. The worst part is the tail with the thin white line. I had to piece that in due to it’s winding complexity which prevented me from cutting it out as a single insert piece. I will probably have to avoid patterns with problems like this in the future.
I doubt that my method is original, but I did arrive at it on my own.
I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on what I’ve done here and any suggestions for improvements. . At the same time I hope you will find some merit with my approach.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.