Treasure Box - Series #2 - Post #13: Top incrustation

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Blog entry by Patricelejeune posted 09-20-2014 12:46 AM 3075 reads 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Sides Marquetry incrustation Part 13 of Treasure Box - Series #2 - Post series Part 14: Cutting bone »

As promised some news on the marquetry top for the treasure box series #2

The challenge here is to insert the oval white bone inlay first then cut the rest of the background repositioning the pack perfectly as some of the marquetry looks like it moves in front and in the back of those bones.

I first build the pack with 4 layers of paperbacked ebony sawn veneer

I used a idea of mine and an idea from Patrick to locate perfectly the veneer with the 2 drawings that had to be used to cut this background twice.

I used lines and a v cut to clamp the pack with the first drawing and he second drawing

and drill 4 holes with a bit the right size to use veneer nails to rebuild the back after cutting the oval.

The drawing for the oval has bridges to keep everything at the right spot

Cutting the cavities on the marquetry chevalet

I prepared a light paper assembly board as I had to glue it twice on an assembly board and did not want to add to much paper and glue to the front.

I had to cut some ebony string inlays to go in sandwich between 2 bones purflings.

And soaked the bone to make them more bendable.

Here is the background with the oval cut done, the ebony string inlay and the bone. The assembly board is ready, the glue is hot and I have podcast on my Ipad, ready to go.

The background is slapped down on the assembly board with hot hide glue

I cut the middle bridges as I go and insert the 3 string inlays in the cavity, here is a particularly horrible picture to illustrate this step

You can see now the locator hole Patrick thought about to rebuild the pack precisely

and the rebuilding in action

Ready to cut some more.

The pack was fairly heavy and the ebony is really hard to cut.

It took me roughly 5 days with 5 hours of cutting a day to finish it. This is after 3 days.

But the locators did work great. As you can see the pieces I had to keep as they were to small for bridges are exactly the same, better than expected.

When I open a pack I always keep all my trash you never know what you are going to miss

Like this broken bridge

I got myself ready for incrustation

A series of picture to illustrate the incrustation session, almost 2 weeks for 4 panels

And as usual I love details shot. Please pardon this excess of pictures, but this has been my biggest marquetry challenge so far and I did sweat a lot on that part, and not only because I was working at 85-92 degrees because of successive heat waves…

Thank you for following !


-- Patrice lejeune

17 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8717 posts in 3885 days

#1 posted 09-20-2014 01:00 AM

No Patrice, THANK YOU.
This is just so sweet. The cutting and assembly are, of course, great but what impresses me the most is your shading.
It is so “right” looking.

You mention that you soaked the bone to bend it. Did you also soak the ebony. As you know I have some of the same material and to look at it, it doesn’t seem very bendable. Perhaps I’ll have to give it a try.

The string inlays really set this piece off so it was definitely worth the effort. I think these boxes will be even nicer than the first set ….. no mean feat.

Thanks again.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Longcase's profile


102 posts in 2534 days

#2 posted 09-20-2014 01:33 AM


Very, very impressive, as Paul wrote, thank you for posting.


View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3007 days

#3 posted 09-20-2014 01:46 AM

Thank you.

I did not soak the ebony, I figured that the bone will clamp the ebony in place in the cavity, and I can se some small deferring but nothing really to worry about as it is black. I think it only works because it is in a grove just the right size for the three inlays and therefore they can not really snap, except for the bone if it is not soaked.
This box is definitely way more involved than the first set. I would have simplified the drawing if we did not have presold 2 boxes first, but in fact it is good to as we will produce a more complicated project.

-- Patrice lejeune

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1984 posts in 3056 days

#4 posted 09-20-2014 02:23 AM

WOW! WOW! WOW! That is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that process

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

520 posts in 4217 days

#5 posted 09-20-2014 03:01 AM

Once again absolutely amazing and beautiful.

-- Dale, Ohio

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4917 days

#6 posted 09-20-2014 03:35 AM

Wow Patrice, I bet you sweat doing all that cutting and assembly work. Thanks so much for sharing these techniques with us amateurs…we can only dream about producing this kind of work. As Paul says, the shading is masterfully done and brings such realism to the design. Here again, the color palette selection is shown to be outstanding. I couldn’t read the units on the scale where you were showing the weight of the pack, can you clarify please…was that 4.78 lbs?

By the way, did you ever figure out how to dye the bone green or are you using wood veneers for the leaves?

Congratulations on already pre-selling two of the boxes in this series! I’m sure these will be worth a fortune when they are done and will only appreciate from there. Great to see there are patrons still willing to support the level of craftsmanship and the time investment it takes to produce such quality work.

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3647 posts in 4799 days

#7 posted 09-20-2014 05:48 AM


This absolutely takes my breath away! We love your series of photos of the incrustation to show us just how it progresses. The details are so precise; the shading so perfect; the design so lovely! What an heirloom piece!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4040 days

#8 posted 09-20-2014 11:40 AM

Magnificent! It’s easy to make the case that some of the best work in the country is coming out of 3815 Utah. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice. It’s hard to imagine that Riesner or Oeben would have done as well. Spectacular work. My compliments.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3007 days

#9 posted 09-20-2014 06:43 PM

Thank you.

It was 47.8 oz, 3 lbs. Quite enough to wear muscles down.

We are still investigating the dying. We will start 2 new batches of recipes next week. I still believe in copper sulfate, the vinegar though seem to turn the surface of the bone mushy and it never comes back to shape ending up with half a millimeter bone veneer instead of 1.5mm
We pre-sold the third one a month ago. They are not that expensive even if I could not afford one as most of our pieces… I chose to have a car instead, how stupid is that!

Thank you all for your nice comments.

Next step, work on the box’s body, finally die bone green, so we can start veneering the damn thing.

-- Patrice lejeune

View sras's profile


6130 posts in 4216 days

#10 posted 09-20-2014 09:05 PM

Every time you share your work is a treat – and you don’t need to worry about too many pictures! Thanks for sharing.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View tinnman65's profile


1414 posts in 4501 days

#11 posted 09-20-2014 11:52 PM

Great post Patrice, thanks for sharing. As for me I feel the more pictures the better, I never get tired of looking at the process.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View mmh's profile


3684 posts in 4809 days

#12 posted 09-21-2014 02:29 AM

This is such an incredible project and to have you show us your progress is such a wonderful treat! I would not even fathom trying to conquer such an intricate piece. Your documentation is to be commended, as I know how tedious it can be to stop and take photos of a project and this one is quite extraordinary! Thank you for all of your work and showing us how a master creates!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3007 days

#13 posted 09-22-2014 04:43 PM

Thank you again. It is a good thing to me to document my time doing jobs, as I do not really pay attention otherwise and it is good to keep memories to come back to it later and remember, this help to progress.

-- Patrice lejeune

View Chuck Walker's profile

Chuck Walker

9 posts in 2941 days

#14 posted 09-23-2014 01:26 AM


I very much appreciate the extra work you do to document your projects with photos. They make following this complex process much simpler. This particular work far outstrips anything I have seen before.

Bone is a porous material composed of several different things, collagen phosphate, sulfate, carbonate and more. The carbonate level for mammal bones is around 8% according to one source. Using an acid based dye may react with the carbonate with unpredictable results but probably not what you want. Have you tried water based dyes? Organic dyes in a solvent might also cause problems and with either, the color may be fugitive and fade in due time.

Chuck Walker
ASFM 2002

-- Chuck - Nothing tried, nothing botched, nothing learned!

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3007 days

#15 posted 09-23-2014 01:48 AM

Thank you for the advice. Yes the acid base, vinegar in my case, which is in a lot of 1700’s recipes, seems to attack the surface. I am still convinced that the copper sulfate is a good solution as the molecule is small. Also as it is a chemical dye it should not fade. The 1700’s green bone in marquetry are still so bright. They used copper arsenite or Paris green, but as I would like to live a little longer I am investigating other avenue to be on the emerald side of the green.
I will let you know when I figure it out!

-- Patrice lejeune

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