Marquetry Walnut Bowl

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Project by smokey56 posted 11-03-2016 09:43 PM 1579 views 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The bowl measures about 10 inches diameter by 9 inches tall. It was turned by my father-in-law, Ron Campbell from walnut that he acquired. in the 1070s. He had traded some Missouri rough walnut wood for a Doberman pup. After 5 years of drying he used the wood for kitchen cabinetry for his home. The remaining was used for him to make bowls. Ron’s trade is machinery and is very accomplished which helped him in making the bowls. He has made some 20-30 of them out of various exotic woods—no two are alike. After turning the walnut bowl, he sent it to me to insert the marquetry design.

I found the marquetry design at the American School of French Marquetry here in San Diego some years ago. It was just a strip of marquetry in a drawer glued to kraft paper and measured about 4×16 inches. I photographed and copied the veneered piece, selected similar veneers and made separate packets for “piece by piece” cutting method to make four copies. A better method would have been “painting in wood”. Using the chevalet de marqueterie, I made four copies at one cutting. This was assembled and glued face down on kraft paper. When Ron finished and sent me the walnut bowl, I attached the base to my lathe and supported it at its open end with a supporting block he provided. After measuring the width needed to support the marquetry and small amaranth fillets, the very shallow but wide groove was cut with the standard lathe tools. Now two copies will fit perfectly and joined end to end exactly. The amaranth fillet gave a pleasing separation between the ebony background of the marquetry and the walnut bowl.

Securing the marquetry to the bowl was accomplished using Old Brown Glue (hide glue). To clamp the slightly hydrated veneer around the bowl supported in the lathe, I used wide strips of a bicycle tire inner tube. This allowed me to adjust it in place to fit as I wanted. The next day the second strip of veneer applied using the same method. A couple of days later the remaining narrow groove on top and bottom of the marquetry was cleaned out and a continuous strip of amaranth fillet was glued and inserted. The bowl and marquetry was sanded to 220 and then pumice used with a pad for additional preparation of the surfaces. The bowl was then finished using the classic french polish method. We are now trying to decide if we want to leave it gloss or tone it down to satin. Thoughts?

Ken Stover ([email protected])
Ron Campbell

11 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8593 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 11-03-2016 09:56 PM

Excellent marquetry Ken. The whole piece has a real presence but the marquetry sets it apart.
Very nice work.

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

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4026 days

#2 posted 11-03-2016 10:51 PM

That marquetry is just beautiful—really makes the bowl special and unique!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View ralbuck's profile


6595 posts in 3145 days

#3 posted 11-03-2016 10:55 PM

A huge congratulations on excellent work to the BOTH of YOU!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View BobWemm's profile


2889 posts in 2805 days

#4 posted 11-03-2016 11:02 PM


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View BurlyBob's profile


7938 posts in 3145 days

#5 posted 11-03-2016 11:50 PM

That is amazing! Your bowl is beautiful as a stand alone piece, but your marquetry send it to an entirely new level!

View Chuck Walker's profile

Chuck Walker

9 posts in 2733 days

#6 posted 11-04-2016 01:46 AM

A beautifully executed piece! I think I remember seeing the marquetry strip you used for pattern at the American School of French Marquetry when I was there for a couple of weeks in 2002. The difficulty in gluing the long panels aver a curved surface is overcome by using Old Brown Glue which has simplified a number of projects for me in different areas.

I would vote for a gloss finish because it allows all the beautiful features and details of the walnut and the marquetry to show through. A gloss finish provides a clear window into what is behind it. Satin finish scatters a small amount of light from the surface and will dull small micro-features to the eye slightly. Of course both finishes are very acceptable and it just depends on personal preference.

A treat to see a project like this!


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

View Eli Adamit's profile

Eli Adamit

744 posts in 4169 days

#7 posted 11-04-2016 11:48 AM

Nice project.

-- Eli Adamit, Israel

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3746 days

#8 posted 11-04-2016 02:29 PM

This is a wonderful piece and the marquetry is beautiful.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View JimInNM's profile


333 posts in 2096 days

#9 posted 11-04-2016 04:32 PM

Totally unbelievable that a person could craft the inlay and fit into a bowl… What a piece of art

-- JimInNM........Space Case

View Ivan's profile


16303 posts in 3747 days

#10 posted 11-04-2016 04:43 PM

Amaizing marquetry job, nice vase.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3702 days

#11 posted 11-04-2016 06:44 PM

Very nice, the planning certainly shows in the end result, tricky work :)

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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