Buffalo Box #5: More Intarsia tips and tricks

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Blog entry by wdkits1 posted 12-28-2009 10:55 PM 2974 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Beginning the intarsia Part 5 of Buffalo Box series Part 6: Gluing up and finishing »

As most of you know, I finished the first buffalo box so what I am showing now is the intarsia of the second buffalo box. I worked out all of the pattern bugs on the first one so this one went a little faster. This first photo shows how I transfer the shape of the buffalo from the pattern to the sticky back label paper using carbon paper.The buffalo bodies are cut from 3/8” walnut,the heads are 3/8” peruvian walnut and the baby buffalo is 3/8”butternut.

The next photo shows cutting out the body of the big buffalo. I’m using a 2/0 double tooth blade for all of my cuts. I have also added a zero clearance table top (1/4” plywood) to the saw to prevent small pieces from breaking off or falling through the throat of the saw.

To take care of any gap between pieces, I hold the pieces together and run them through the blade.

The next photo shows the cut out pieces of the buffalos arranged on the pattern . Notice that the paper pattern has not been removed yet.

Now is the time when I begin my shaping and carving of all the pieces. This is what will give the 3/D effects. I use different bits and sanders on the Dremal tool.

This next photo shows that I’m using a 5/64” high speed cutter to drill the hole where the eye goes.

I have formed a small dowel out of ebony to use for the eye by using a 1/2” drum sander until it fits snugly into the hole that I drilled.

I use a drop of CA glue on the end of the dowel and insert it into the socket. Hold it until it sets up.

After cutting the excess from the dowel I use a 1/4” drum sander to sand the ebony inlay flush.

I went ahead and cut the rest of the pieces for the buffalos and did most of the sanding and detail carving. To make it easier to assemble I like to glue small sections together to form larger units. To do this I have laid the tracing pattern down and taped a piece of clear plastic wrap over the pattern. I now put a little CA glue on the plastic and set the pieces in place on the plastic.

Here are the buffalo sections glued together. I still have more carving and sanding to do but it will be easier now that the pieces are together as a unit.

Once the glue sets up I can peel the units from the plastic and continue on with the rest of the intarsia.

Probably the trickiest part of this project is the fence. With a total of 30 pieces, most of which are less than 1/16” wide and 1/4” long it does take alot of time and patience to not make a mistake. I start by tracing the fence and mounting it to the holly, which is 1/4” thick. I drill 1/16” pilot holes to insert the blade to cut out the sections for the background.

Take your time and stay on the line.

Fence section complete—that was tough.

After cutting out the fence I think I’ll take a break—- to be continued.

-- Mike --

8 comments so far

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14172 posts in 3978 days

#1 posted 12-28-2009 11:22 PM

very skillful presentation … you have a steady hand

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4156 days

#2 posted 12-29-2009 12:04 AM

excellent demonstration

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3299 days

#3 posted 12-29-2009 12:28 AM

this sure requires patience , i like the detail work….I’m sure that those who receive these gifts know the work involved thank you for such a detailed tutorial..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3246 days

#4 posted 12-29-2009 12:57 AM

Thank you for the demo… very detailed and informative.. looking forward to part 2

-- -erik & christy-

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18268 posts in 3671 days

#5 posted 12-29-2009 01:50 AM

VEry interesting. Guess I’ll add you to the buddy list to keep track of this.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3284 days

#6 posted 12-29-2009 01:56 AM

nice job.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3554 days

#7 posted 12-29-2009 02:03 AM

Another great tutorial. Lokk forward to the next segment.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Dale_Millere's profile


14 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 12-29-2009 04:17 AM

Looking good Mike. Keep up the good work.

-- Dale

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