More Marquetry Experiments

I got my new 1,500 watt hot plate yesterday and fired it up to try sand shading marquetry again.

By the way, I’m buying all kinds of weird stuff for marquetry.  Usually when I think about woodworking tools I need (want) it’s backsaws, handplanes, chisels and that sort of thing.  Or power tools.  “It would be really handy to have a spindle sander to do this” or “I bet I could fit a router table over there”.

Instead I’ve been getting packages with hot plates, hot water kettles, gummed tape dispensers and tweezers.  Who buys tweezers to do woodworking?  Me, as it turns out.

I used the low-tac shelf paper to pre-assemble the parts for two flowers.  The first one uses Redwood Burl for the flower.  I measured it before assembling the packet.  Most of the veneers were .020″ to .025″ thick, this one was .014″.  That a lot thinner.  The veneer thickness is a major annoyance for me.  I need to get to where the material I’m using is all the same thickness at least.

The reason I mention this is the larger cut pieces of this Redwood Burl curled badly.  This caused problems when I was pre-assembling, and different problems with sand shading.  First the Redwood Burl rose pre-assembled:

Rose in redwood burl pre-assembled on shelf paper

Rose in redwood burl pre-assembled on shelf paper

While I was assembling I did the second image, this one uses Bubinga for the rose.

Both roses assembled.  Redwood Burl on the left, Bubinga on the right.

Both roses assembled. Redwood Burl on the left, Bubinga on the right.

Then I started sand shading the parts of the left image.  The leaves went OK, but the pieces of the rosebud didn’t work well.  The heat from the sand seemed to make the warping of the pieces worse.  A bigger problem was that the newsprint I applied to the back of the veneer would bubble up.

Back of two pieces of the Redwood Burl rosebud showing the bubbled backing paper.

Back of two pieces of the Redwood Burl rosebud showing the bubbled backing paper.

As you can probably imagine, these bubbled wreak havoc with the assembly.  So after sand shading each piece I had to use a knife to scrape away the bubbled area before I could put it back in the picture.

The other side of the same piece of the rosebud showing the extent of scorch on the veneer.

The other side of the same piece of the rosebud showing the extent of scorch on the veneer.

Long story short, I think the Redwood Burl, at .014″ thick, was too thin to really sand shade.  Maybe if it was doubled up to two thicknesses it would work better.  I’m not completely sure why the backing newsprint was bubbling up.  It did it on the leaves too, but not quite as severely.

Doing the final pre-assembly of the Redwood rose was a real pain.  The contact paper had lost some adhesion, the parts were curled from being so thin and the ones I sand shaded had an uneven surface.  Every time I moved a piece two others would pop out.  That was fun, let me tell you.  I didn’t even try to take a picture, I had eight fingers holding pieces in place while I tried to position little pieces of blue tape to lock everything together.  Crazy.

Eventually I got all of the pieces in the first image locked into place with blue tape.

Sand shaded image locked down with blue tape

Sand shaded image locked down with blue tape

I cut the shelf paper loose from the board and flipped it over.  It’s hard to see much beyond the charred bits of newsprint.

This will ultimately be the face side of the sand shaded Redwood Burl rose

This will ultimately be the face side of the sand shaded Redwood Burl rose

For the second image I decided to try something different.  I picked out contrasting colors from my extra parts and swapped out pieces in the image.  Note the half of the leaf pieces and some of the rose pieces are now a different species.  This rose is mainly in Bubinga with some Purpleheart pieces swapped in.

Second image -- no sand shading but different colored pieces swapped in.

Second image — no sand shading but different colored pieces swapped in.

This image is going to present some other problems.  The background veneer is about .040″ thick, and the other pieces are all around .025″.  This is the problem with using mix-n-match veneer from my sample box I guess.  I bought some imported dyed veneer before the holidays that should be (fingers crossed) more consistent.  Not thicker, just all the same.

Once this second image was pre-assembled I locked it together with blue tape, and cut it loose from the board.  Then I carefully peeled the shelf paper off the two images, and bedded them in hot hide glue on the final kraft-paper-covered assembly board.  The newsprint (show face) goes face down in the glue.  I covered these with a plastic film to keep the glue from sticking to the cauls, a couple of layers of cloth to help get clamping pressure to the thinner veneers and a caul.  I’m going to need to make a proper veneer press soon if I keep doing this.

Later today I’ll unclamp my mess and experiment with applying the mastic to fill the saw kerfs.  And then maybe I’ll open up the dyed veneer and do another image.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “More Marquetry Experiments

  1. I like the shaded redwood rose. Also after seeing these, I’m liking the mirror image of the rose.

  2. Wow. This is complicated. I admire you for accepting the challenge.

  3. Paul K. Murphy

    Marquetry: The practice of constructing and applying potato chips as wallpaper without snapping them.

  4. Paul K. Murphy

    Hi Joe, I’m going to ASFM next month. I’ve been doing panels to get the hang of it. I’m in Gilroy, I think you’re close. Paul

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