I took a few photos to show you what I was up to with my latest experiment. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well, but adventures wouldn’t be adventures if everything went without a hitch, so I though you might enjoy the failures just as much as the successes.
MY FIRST TRY
My first job was to select and prepare some blanks for my project, a dragon marquetry. I’ve gotten 5 different woods ready including Linde, Ash, African Black, Cocobolo and the yellow one. I forgot to include the black wood in the photo. If anyone has an idea about what the yellow one is, please let me know. They didn’t know at the store where I bought it a couple of years ago either.
Here is the Linde background blank which is about 1” thick and with the cutting pattern mounted. The thin piece on the bottom will become a transfer pattern.
this is the insert pattern blank being prepared for attachment to the bottom of the workpiece with carpet tape.
The body of the dragon has been cut out.
After cutting out the body parts, the thin pattern piece attached to the bottom of the workpiece is removed. It can now be used as a tracing pattern (kind of like a stencil) to trace an exact copy of the cut out parts onto the wood to be inserted.
The Ash pictured here under the pattern will be traced in this case. The advantage is that the pattern on the insert piece will be an exact copy of the actual cut-out and the thinness of the tracing pattern will make it possible to easily trace the pattern with a pencil.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
After cutting out the first Ash insert piece, I found that it didn’t fit. I found that the cut-outs at the top of the main workpiece were narrower at the top than at the bottom.That meant that the pattern piece on the bottom of the main workpiece was also wider and therefor useless.
I checked my blade alignment (again) and found it to be at a perfect 90deg. I could only surmise that the blade had ‘dragged’ owing to the 1” thickness of the workpiece creating an angle from top to bottom.
Using a heavier blade, a #7 for example might have been better, but not suitable for the details in the pattern. It seems I will have to try a thinner workpiece, say around 1/2” thick.
WHY DID I USE SUCH THICK MATERIAL?
The idea was to make a very thick marquetry and then slice it into four finished pieces a little over 1/8” thick each afterward. Great in theory, but not in practice. Now I expect that instead of four for the price of one, I will only get two or maybe three if I dare go that thin.
WHATS NEXT THEN?
I have already tried to slice the workpiece in my bandsaw to the 1/2” thickness with the hope that the cut-out angle would diminish enough that it was still useable, but that didn’t work out. The angle was still enough to make a perfect fitting insert impossible. I have no choice, but to make a new main workpiece the right thickness and recut all the insert pieces a corresponding thickness as well.
I am a little disappointed that I couldn’t multiply my efforts fourfold, but I am confident the I will win the next round and at least get two pieces for the work of one. It is worth the modest waste of a piece of my Linde wood for a valuable learning experience.
WHY SUCH THICK WOOD FOR MARQUETRY?
Cutting marquetry veneers with a scroll saw is very difficult to control even at the slowest speeds, although there are successful scroll saw techniques used by some of the best marquetry artists around, but I don’t have those skills and I don’t want a Chevalet because I haven’t room for it, plus I paid so much for my good quality scroll saw that i feel I must get some use out of it. I also don’t feel ready to fiddle with veneer yet as it requires special handling and is pretty expensive as well. I may try it out later to expand the color palette if I find a like marquetry work a lot.
Thin veneer cuts could be easier controlled however by taping them to a thicker waste piece for cutting. I haven’t tried that yet.
I finding cutting thinner pieces from around 1/4” is easy to control. I can still slice this thinner work on the bandsaw as mentioned above to get at least one additional copy with 1/4” thickness and perhaps three from 1/2”thicknesses. This form of marquetry should work well on my smaller projects like boxes, or framed pictures.
So now it’s back into the shop for a 2nd try!
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.