Intarsia Basics #6: We are Almost There!!

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Blog entry by KoryK posted 06-25-2012 01:00 AM 11653 reads 12 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Welcome back, Let's Start Adding Spacers and Shaping Our Pieces Part 6 of Intarsia Basics series no next part

Welcome back and again sorry for taking so long to get this post out. After my hand healed I was really backed up on some other projects. I’m almost caught up and will post some of those projects on my page in the next couple of days.

When we left off we had all the sanding done and are ready for staining and finishing. I’m making two of these frogs, one that will need staining and one out of exotic wood so everyone can participate in this project. We will go over staining next.

I’m using poplar for my piece that will need staining and this is what I came up with after sanding and shaping it.

There is plenty of different stains available from different outlets. The greens, blues, bright reds are a little harder to find and you might have to order them online. I have, in the past, used food dye mixed with water as a stain. Just put a little food dye in water and start testing it on your scraps adding more dye to achieve the color you’re looking for. I have also used water based paint in the same way.

I used regular stains for this piece because I had them and they are much easier to use. After drying I checked to make sure that the color was what I wanted.

Ok, for those of you using exotic wood, it’s time to rejoin us. I changed it up on this one and used two types of finish for this one. Usually you would attach your backer board at this point, but because of the two finishes I put those on first. What I was trying to achieve was a regular satin finish on the branch so it would not be real glossy. I used high gloss on the frog because I wanted it to look wet (like a frog). I use a polyurethane finish for both.

I put three coat of each type and lightly sanded with 320 grit between coats.

Like I said before the next two steps are usually done before putting your finish on, but we changed it up on this one.

Next we need to glue our piece together, I use CA glue with an accelerant. It is very convenient because you can place you pieces together after putting you glue on and make sure they are in proper placement before spraying the accelerant to dry the glue. I prefer to use the thick CA glue, but you do have a choice of medium, thin, or gel. Be very careful not to drip any of the glue on the face of you piece because you have already done your finish.

At this point your piece is very fragile so be very careful placing it on your backer board. You can use plywood or anything that is strong and about 1/8 thick. I like to use tempered service board for all of my projects. After placing you piece on you backer board I will trace around it with a pencil.

I will then highlight it with a sharpie so I can see it better while cutting.

I will then cut the backer board out making sure to cut inside the traced line 1/8 inch to make sure it does on show from the front.

Here is your finished backer board.

Again, very carefully put your piece back on you backer board to insure that it fits and does not stick out anywhere. After that you can start gluing them together. I use regular wood glue for this.

If I have already put a finish on at this point I will cover it with cellophane to make sure nothing sticks to the finish if there is any area that might be a little tacky.

I will then cover it with a towel to add padding so your clamps will not gouge your wood. I use spring clamp in varying sizes to clamp the backer board to your piece.

Let it dry overnight and then you are ready to put your hanger on. This is a fairly small piece so I only used one hanger on the back instead of picture frame style. Doing this you will need to make sure to get the hanger in the right place so your piece will not hang lopsided. Take you thumb and forefinger and let the piece hang, then move them until the piece is level. Where you finger is where you place your hanger.

At this point we are FINISHED!!! Here are examples of both projects

Exotic wood

Stained wood

I want to thank all of you for following along and making this project. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of this art form and making these pieces as I do. This is a basic project and the more you do, your imagination will take over and each piece will take on a life of its own. Thanks again and happing cutting.

-- If you not making sawdust, your probably wasting your time. Kory

14 comments so far

View sras's profile


6702 posts in 4591 days

#1 posted 06-25-2012 01:07 AM

This has been an excellent series!

Intarsia is on my future project list and I know I will be referring back to what you have shared with us.


-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4266 days

#2 posted 06-25-2012 02:31 AM

I was freekin out for a minute there while lookin at that poor frog. Looked like he was disected like we did back in high school. Body parts all over. Glad your injury has healed up.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3927 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 01:15 AM

Thank you for the series. I have not ‘built’ along, even though you were kind enough to send the plans :) Too much work on the other side of the country these last few months. But with this posted here on LJ, I know I will be looking them up in the near future!

Thanks again, and glad your had is coming along. I know when I lopped off part of my finger (glass door accident, not table saw or other power tool), I was in the dumps until it healed up, but then I met a great girl at the physical therapy office, good friend now :)

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View hunter71's profile


3563 posts in 4649 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 10:41 AM

I enjoyed your lessons. I have never done Intarsia but might attempt it now.
Thanks, Doug

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4796 days

#5 posted 06-27-2012 09:14 AM

Thanks very much for these lessons Kory. I have learned a lot from your blog. Are the stains you used water or alcohol based?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SteveL's profile


183 posts in 5230 days

#6 posted 07-11-2012 04:21 AM

Thanks Kory,

I just got me a scroll saw and have been wondering what project I might try to build some skill with it, and your frog looks perfect. I even have a piece of poplar handy, so I’ll be printing the pattern tomorrow and sawing tomorrow night!

-- SteveL

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4651 days

#7 posted 08-09-2012 04:52 PM

This is the most excellent series I have ever read!!!! I have learned so much reading and watching this. I’m ready to tackle this project. I have wanted to do this for some time. As others have mentioned I thank-you for taking the time and sharing your ways of making this project!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View JLJones's profile


228 posts in 3715 days

#8 posted 09-20-2012 01:34 PM

Thanks for the series! I’m excited to give intarsia a try!

-- "Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4305 days

#9 posted 10-24-2012 04:41 PM


Just saw an intarsa piece andremembered your frog. Still a long way from doing this but it is on my list of wanna’s but I have to do the needas and gottas first. Looked around for a contemporary cow pattern, only found a steer, but it is a start?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View luv2learn's profile


3158 posts in 3765 days

#10 posted 10-25-2012 05:58 PM


I came late to the series so I read through all the lessons a few times. You have explained the steps beautifully and I am anxious to get stated on my first project.

I just have a few observations based on my limited experience with fretwork. First, I attach my pattern pieces to the wood the same as you do, with spray adhesive. Second, I use 2” wide clear packing tape to cover the pattern, it lubricates the blade. Lastly, when I am ready to remove pattern from the wood I remove the tape, dampen a cloth with mineral spirits and apply it to any left over paper stuck to the piece. Any paper stuck to the wood comes right off as well as any spray adhesive that might still be on the piece. The mineral spirits evaporate in just a few seconds and doesn’t appear to have any staining affect on the wood nor does it appear to affect the finishing.

Thanks for taking the time to do this class, I really appreciate it.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Belg1960's profile


1170 posts in 4527 days

#11 posted 01-17-2013 10:54 PM

I have just found your blog and hope you do another build like this in the future. I would love to see some videos with this type of work as well.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View byrdman61's profile


56 posts in 3354 days

#12 posted 04-20-2013 10:25 PM

Thanks Kory.

-- byrdman61 Slc, Ut

View jim65's profile


1021 posts in 3395 days

#13 posted 02-15-2014 07:55 PM

Thanks, I am going to check to give this a shot, inspiring! Appreciate that you have take the time to teach!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View RooseveltKoepke's profile


21 posts in 2539 days

#14 posted 06-18-2015 10:47 AM

Excellent reality

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