I’ve made some progress on the marquetry picture I’m working on. Sunday I sawed out the remainder of the picture and began assembling it.
My shop motivation has been really low lately — but my family and work commitments have been at an all time high, so that probably shouldn’t surprise me. But it does. Go figure.
If you have forced yourself to parse some of my earlier gibble you may recall that I had a hard time learning to saw with the “coarse” 32tpi blade in the marquetry chevalet. A friend equated it to a high powered sport bike with a fast throttle. That’s pretty much it, and the consequences of a fast wrist twist are about the same. You’ll blow right through whatever is in front of you in the blink of an eye. It takes a very gentle touch, especially on tight turns.
My sawing is far from perfect, but I’m able to erase the layout line with the kerf most of the time. With the “piece-by-piece” method – which I both dread and eagerly anticipate to in equal parts. Piece-by-piece involves cutting out the background, then cutting each piece separately — as opposed to the Boulle or stack cutting method I’m using. The advantage is less waste and you can make multiple finished parts at once. The challenge is that the sawing needs to be dead accurate or the parts won’t fit.
But that is a digression.
One problem I’ve had in the past is the as parts are removed from the stack of veneers it gets loose and hard to manage. I use tape to reinforce it as I go, but I tried something new this time. I got a tin of veneer nails from Patrick Edwards and pinned the stack of veneers. This was a great help.
About three hours of sawing gave me a giant stack of veneer parts. I started assembling them using shelf paper as an intermediate step. I figured I would need to sand shade this to make it look right, and the first assembly bore that out. It looks bland and loses a lot of the details in the leaves without shading.
After an hour or so of carefully burning my little bits of veneer, and wetting them to “re-hydrate” and flatten them, I re-assembled the same parts. I think this makes a giant improvement.
It’s hard to judge the right amount of scorching while I’m doing it. The sand leaves a white dust on the veneer, and it isn’t until you see it assembled that it’s clear that you’ve done it right (or not). It’s just practice and experience though, I know I’ll get a better sense for it before long. It’s also surprising how quickly different veneers react to the heat. The white petals (Holly maybe?) go really fast, the green dyed veneer for the leaves takes much longer. And I’ve realized that faster is better. The first hot plate I used didn’t get hot enough, it would take 20 or 30 second per piece. That also caused a huge amount of warping, bubbling of the paper reinforcement and charing of the glue. I’m at 5 to 10 seconds to get most pieces done, that’s much better. I think I should actually be a bit hotter still.
So I’ve probably got two more hours of work to get this assembled on the shelf paper. I lost a few parts, and will need to make patches. Then I’ll get this glued to the assembly board and think about adding a border and making this into a finished panel I can use in a small cabinet. Or I’ll have a veneer fire in the driveway, you never know.