Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga #1: Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga

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Blog entry by justoneofme posted 03-08-2013 08:40 AM 2980 reads 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga series Part 2: Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga »

Considering what stipulates a ”Blog Entry” this one hits them all! The Marquetry Wine Box Saga is ”a project in progress”. Through numerous queries,fascinating discussions, encouraging comments and most definitely … awesomely beautiful contributions regarding the Art of Marquetry from fellow Lumberjocks … the ”inspiration” for me to work a Marquetry design felt like a dormant seed taking sprout! After numerous years with interests running along the path of Intarsia, Marquetry had been placed upon the back burner of my life … until now … therefore giving reign to another of “Blog Entry” suggested requirements … “a challenge”!!

There are so many ways to work a Marquetry design … but you already know from my previous tutorial blogged on the subject … I’m into the “Window Method”. That particular blog was only a taste of involvement … this one will be the whole meal deal!

And on that note, whether it’s considered a form of tutorial for some, or hilarious entertainment for others over my somewhat unorthodox methods of ’bas-ackwardness’ as you follow the challenging path I trod … at least enjoy a glass of wine while looking at the pretty pictures!!

It took many hours scouring the Internet, browsing through my own vast filing cabinet of ideas, piece-mealing, blending, chucking out and starting all over again before I finally was satisfied with this ‘art nouveau’ design. It took just as much time to ‘whip up’ a box base for this design to be mounted upon, but you’ve thankfully been spared my big issues over trying to get everything squared up!

I scanned and printed off the completed design, so I could have a total overview of all four sides. Of course I scanned the second page incorrectly and ended up playing front to back, upside down and inside out in order for all four panels to line up properly! In ‘real life’ the Marquetry panels should only need reversing to have those decorative motifs meet properly.

Veneer knives really come in handy for cutting across the grain. I’ve chosen Brazilian Rosewood as the background veneer, which was cut into 4 panels and held together using masking tape.

The scanned design for the front panel was glued and pressed onto cardboard … because I was too lazy to yet again draw this intricate design as I normally would have, transferring with carbon paper to cardboard. My fingers have become as old as my eyes!! I found it much harder to cut through this paper/glue/cardboard template with the pen styled Exacto knife … but on the upside, I found I could cut through this template on the scroll saw and save myself the torment of arthritic joints!! Happily, this was discovered shortly after hand cutting the hole portion of the template.

Before I go farther, I should explain the ‘set-up’. I use a ‘self-healing’ cutting mat as my work surface. You can purchase them in varied sizes at fabric shops if you can’t find them elsewhere. Because it’s necessary to hold things in place while working the design, I cut a strip of masking tape (seen along the bottom edge of the cutting mat) into squares. This is not a moment for perfection! Slice the tape lengthwise then quickly score to end up with fairly small squares. As the template transforms into veneer, these little square help secure your work (on the front) until you’re ready to flip it over and adequately tape the underside of that particular section. The square pieces once removed from the front allows open viewing as you continue cutting.

Another part of my preparation applies to the scroll saw. There will be tiny pieces within this design that would otherwise fall through the open portion where the blade passes through the scroll table. To prevent this from happening I attach a piece of arborite (with band-saw blade kerf line) in place. I like to cover most of the table area to prevent veneers from ‘catching up’ ... and they do on smaller table coverage! Held in place with clear packing tape, this is easily removed later. The kerf is larger than the scroll saw blade width, making it easier for blade movement, removal, etc. Arborite is kitchen countertop material … but you could just as easily use hard-pack cardboard (poster board) for this purpose.

With the template taped onto the padded Rosewood background, I’m ready to proceed. But wait! Is this “Window Method”?! Well … there’s a reason for approaching in this manner to start off with. As the decorative motif appears on all 4 panels, that’s where I want to begin … because this is the only part that is similar to all 4 panels. Don’t worry … we’ll be into windows before you know it!!

This is the scary part Stefang!! That first cut. Holy Cow, but I was nervous!! And I always am when making that very first cut. I can feel tension in my shoulders, running down into my hands. Even my stance before the scroll saw is tight! After all this prep work, I sure don’t want to screw up!! I could have cut the entire motif out as one piece … but cutting it into sections helped me work out the tension and build up confidence. I’m sure we all know what that’s about, eh?!!

You may have noticed that I covered over the black lines of the template with masking tape. Another reason for discomfort was the fact that I couldn’t see clearly where I was cutting because the black line and the black of the blade blended together! Combine the black sawdust from the Rosewood … YIKES!! Simple solution with masking tape dulling the lines :)

While in the process of cutting, don’t be afraid to stop frequently and tape those sharp points to protect them from breaking off!

With the motif section cut away, the main portioned panels are separated. I will work on the front panel first, with the remaining 3 re-padded in preparation for their own particular design.

I wish I had engaged my brain beforehand, instead of ending up applying masking tape to the front panel after the fact! Dark backgrounds are always hard to see pencil and scribe lines. You can clearly see that the tape makes this task much easier … but it wasn’t all that easy trimming tape around the already cut exterior of this panel!

A pilot hole drilled, blade threaded through … the first of many cuts to come for this front panel! I wasn’t too concerned about supporting this single veneer for cutting the hole because there is excess to trim away after it’s been glued to the box. But before I proceed with the rest of the design, I intend to back this Rosewood panel with cardboard to help prevent any tear-out, as can easily happen when one thin veneer meets up with aggressive blade!!

Just in case some of you might be wondering what on earth that hole is for … instead of bottling the red wine when ready … my dear sweet hubby puts it into wine sacks for me. Not that I drink that much!! but rather because I already have a Marquetry wine box (sitting upon our kitchen countertop). I’ve decided it’s time to replace my years-old with a brand-new one. Anyway … I digress!! … the hole is where the wine spigot comes out.

Because I want to work on the decorative motif first, the template pieces are patched back together then lined up with the corresponding top and bottom sections of Rosewood background belonging to the front panel.

Once that’s done, the main section of background Rosewood replaces the template … because in order to cut the motif properly, I’ll be using the Exacto knife to scribe lines where wood meets wood for a nice fit. And of course with my ’square issues’ I check … and double check … yada! yada!! yada!!!

This is where Part 1 comes to an end … but please stay tuned for Part 2 which will deal with fun stuff … like sand shading! It will take a while before the next blog comes out … so until then, all my Lumberjock friends … keep happy making sawdust!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

14 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3366 days

#1 posted 03-08-2013 09:34 AM

Elaine this looks like an amazing design
I’m looking forward to following it.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2517 days

#2 posted 03-08-2013 12:40 PM

I always thougt I wouldn’t have the patience to do scrollwork… And now I”M SURE of it! :-)
Wow, That’s some fine (and very TINY) work there. Looking great so far.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View stefang's profile


16740 posts in 3844 days

#3 posted 03-08-2013 12:54 PM

I’m lovin it Elaine. The wonderful art nouveau motif together with the howto has definitely got my attention.Fancy wooden wine boxes are nothing new, but one with marquetry has never even crossed my mind. What a perfect thing to apply marquetry to! I like the clever design with just one main picture and the matching surrounds with other motifs in the center. Great continuity and variation at the same time. It’s the art genes showing! I am also much appreciative of the small tips, like the cardboard backing and the taping. Those little things add up to successful projects. And many thanks for reawakening your marquetry skills to bring this to us.

I can easily see myself making lots of wine boxes for gifts with my own designs. The motif can then be matched to the recipient. Maybe one for my wife for example with a picture of me painting the house or working in the garden. I know that would make her happy, even if it is only a dream!

I can’t wait to see the continuation, so I suggest you get your husband to take care of the everyday humdrum while you work diligently on this blog, and please don’t tell him I said this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ~Julie~'s profile


617 posts in 3544 days

#4 posted 03-08-2013 01:01 PM

This is great, and so well and interestingly explained!

-- ~Julie~

View stefang's profile


16740 posts in 3844 days

#5 posted 03-08-2013 02:28 PM

I forgot to mention about that shoulder tension you mentioned Elaine. I definitely have that problem, but more like at the beginning of each cut! I am learning to be more aware of it and to relax my shoulders and also my death grip on the workpiece before I begin. I am getting much, much better cuts that way. I’m sure you have for the most part overcome this problem, while for me, it is still something I still have to remind myself of every time.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3528 days

#6 posted 03-08-2013 02:30 PM

Wow, Elaine, you are undertaking an awesome project and I’ll be following along with interest! This type of work isn’t in my area of expertise but maybe one day? I’m always interested in beautiful projects. Thanks for the time you spent writing this blog up, I know it took more than a couple of hours!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View shipwright's profile


8381 posts in 3307 days

#7 posted 03-08-2013 02:46 PM

This is going to be fun to watch Elaine. Good start.
I love the art deco motif. I’ve had one in that style on the list for a long time…. but the list is so long, I haven’t made it down that far yet…......... and new ideas keep getting in the way.
You definitely have the artist’s eye and touch to go with your fine marquetry cutting talent.

If I’m good might I get a glass or two of Bill’s excellent vintage from this masterpiece some day?

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

View justoneofme's profile


798 posts in 2989 days

#8 posted 03-08-2013 05:15 PM

Thanks for the wonder comments my buddies … always encouraging to receive!

Mike ... I’m glad you’re able to ‘pluck the wheat from the chafe’ (or is that the other way around?!) in order to find a few helpful hints along the way! I am very familiar with that ‘death grip’ to which you refer! but feel sure it, as well as other body tensions will gradually ease up the more cutting you do, especially because you’ve noticed and are making a concerted effort to relax. I know … easier said than done!
You crack me up with that design idea for your wife’s wine box!! I think you should follow through with it Mike :). Get someone to take a photo of you slaving away, blow it up in black and white then trace lines to form your design. Super idea!! ... especially because of the well imagined smile that would brighten your wife’s day!
I wish I could twitch my nose and have those mundane tasks magically done … however, I am thankful that hubby (I loving refer to as my Kitchen Bitch!) has taken control of cooking detail since his retirement.d Today is laundry day, and because I has the foresight to have the washer and dryer set up in a closet of my workshop … I should be able to get in some good workshop play-time!

Paul ... I have a Bucket List of ideas floating around too. That pretty much guarantees that our lives will never be dull, eh?! At this slow pace I’m at, you’ll probably have to continue enjoying Bill’s wine poured from my old wine box for some time to come … but its age definitely adds excellence to the vintage :). So … when do you start thinking about Island Life? Your glass of wine awaits!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View shipwright's profile


8381 posts in 3307 days

#9 posted 03-08-2013 06:58 PM

Always thinking about Island life Elaine. We will be back mid-April as usual.
Do you think that long bucket list of projects will increase our longevity?

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

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4339 days

#10 posted 03-09-2013 05:47 AM

Elaine, I thoroughly enjoy your blogging style and I will be waiting anxiously for the next update.

I really like this motif and your sense of design. This is going to be another classic family heirloom. You are off to a good start, and thanks for showing your method so clearly. You do inspiring work that we all benefit from.

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

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3444 days

#11 posted 03-09-2013 06:52 AM

Another great blog Elaine.

you ‘ve got a great writting style; it’s like telling a story. You seem to stop now an the to give us time to digest, only to come back and keep us connected.

As for the first cut, I need a good dose of tranquilizer before my first cut; it doesn’t matter whst tool I am using.

I will be following with great interest.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View justoneofme's profile


798 posts in 2989 days

#12 posted 03-10-2013 04:53 PM

Many thanks for the lovely comments everyone … always appreciated! I promise to set up the next blog before too long :)

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Ken90712's profile


17742 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 03-27-2013 08:41 AM

This will is going to fun to watch.

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

View Bigkahunaranch's profile


137 posts in 2018 days

#14 posted 06-23-2015 06:27 PM

Great blog Elaine.
Thank you for taking the time to share your methods.
As a novice in marquetry I am always on the edge to see how great artists such as yourself go about
constructing a masterpiece.

One question tho, you mentioned backing some of the thin veneer to cardboard before sawing.
How do you go about that ? Do you hide glue it ? or just tape the edges.

Thanks, and I am off to the next part of your blog.

-- Living the american dream in central Texas !

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