Sgabello di Fossacesia #5: Creating the marquetry panel – version 1

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Blog entry by Woodbridge posted 08-24-2014 10:23 PM 2023 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: A Seat with Some Curves Part 5 of Sgabello di Fossacesia series Part 6: Marquetry Panel - Take Two »

I’ve taken a few marquetry seminars at Lee Valley and found it quite interesting. I want to incorporate marquetry into more of my future projects.
This would be my first solo marquetry attempt.

I searched the internet for a picture of a trabocchi that I liked.

Then I elongated it to match the shape of the oar and used the pastel feature on photoshop to create the elongated version.

Next I copied a simplified version of the picture onto some tracing paper and used carbon paper to draw the pattern onto my veneers. I also made a few changes to the picture. I worked from the back of the image to the front, cutting out the farthest pieces first.

I feel I cheated a little bit by using blue dyed veneer for the sky and white dyed veneer for the clouds. That was not my original intention, but when I saw the veneer at my local Lee Valley I decided to go that route. I’m having second thoughts about that decision,

I cut the pattern using a fret saw and 4/0 blade using what I believe (from the books I was consulting) the double bevel method. I cut in a counter clockwise direction with the blade tilted in slightly, with the field on top and the insert on the bottom. I was amazed by the ability to cut very tiny pieces with good accuracy using this small blade. I only broke about eight blades for the whole picture.

The final picture was bordered in walnut and laminated to two other pieces of veneer with the grain crossed. It is a little more cartoonish looking than I would have preferred. I would have liked to have the rope look a little finer and need to search out a proper method to do this.

The chair itself is looking very good and in all honesty I am not happy with the marquetry result. I’m resisting applying the panel to the chair back. I think I will take a step back and try another version.

Any advice and suggestions are very much appreciated. Looking at the picture what type of woods would you recommend for the sky? As well what is the best way to do fine stringing to recreate rope? What would you recommend to get a more realistic (less cartoon like) look?

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

4 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8872 posts in 3376 days

#1 posted 08-24-2014 11:54 PM


I think the clouds are not consistent with your original picture. That may be more like what your think a cloud should be? I might suggest Betty Edwards suggestions of looking in a mirror and another is making the artwork upside down to give more reliance to positive and negative spaces.

On the other hand…Really nice for doing it totally by eye and hand! I’m pretty sure your worst will be my best. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View shipwright's profile


8397 posts in 3331 days

#2 posted 08-25-2014 12:52 AM

The marquetry isn’t bad Peter but I know what you mean. When you don’t feel good about it you can’t really get by that.
To get finer ropes, just use a saw cut. It’s called an engraving line because fine lines like veins in leaves were often engraved in brass or pewter elements. In wood the same effect can be achieved with a fine saw cut filled with a dark mastic.
I really like your subject photo and you’ve done a nice job of isolating the elements you want to use. The shading looks OK too but if you don’t like it, you should re-do it. You don’t want to regret it every time you look at this lovely chair.

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

View Jeff_in_LSMO's profile


353 posts in 2874 days

#3 posted 08-25-2014 02:26 PM

if you don’t like it you could always put it in a nice nautical frame and sell it on etsy. It looks good, honestly, and I’m sure someone would snatch it up.

View stefang's profile


16803 posts in 3868 days

#4 posted 08-25-2014 06:39 PM

Your marquetry looks very nice to me Peter, and you did a great job with the fret saw. I also chose dyed blue for the sky on my current marquetry and I also somewhat regretted it, but at least it gives a very nice contrast with the other parts of the picture. I’m sure that like you I won’t be entirely satisfied with my marquetry either, but others will not be so critical and I think you have done a lot of good work on yours.

I agree with Paul that if there are parts that you are especially unhappy with, then you should change those parts out to satisfy yourself.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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