Year of the Dragon

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Project by mauibob posted 08-31-2012 02:41 PM 3823 views 17 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s my marquetry interpretation of a Chinese imperial Dragon, inspired by the Zodiac sign for the year 2012. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority, a symbol of intense power. To illustrate his radiating power, my marquetry Dragon includes a fiery tail (simulated with copper gilding) and, of course, a 22kt gilded gold tooth.

The marquetry box on frame measures approximately 5×7 1/8×5 1/8 inches.

I have always loved oriental designs, as you can tell from my past submissions to LJ. I decided on a Chinese Imperial Dragon for this project because of its Zodiac significance for 2012, but also because of my love of incorporating multimedia concepts in marquetry designs. Inlays (Chinese character for “Dragon” and the Dragon’s fiery eyes) and 22kt gold and copper gilding make this a somewhat unique marquetry box.

Materials used: Hawaiian koa, Macassar ebony, American holly, Sapele, Padauk, Maple, Chechen rosewood, Copper gilding, 24kt gold gilding, epoxy.

The marquetry sides were attached first to a mitered box made from maple. Before assembly, the sides were rabbeted at the top to allow a plywood panel to eventually drop in for the marquetry top. This gave me some elbow room to apply appropriate clamping for the marquetry side veneers before the top was added. The top was then added in two steps: the underside of a plywood panel was veneered with burl walnut (not illustrated) and then glued into the rabbet; and finally the marquetry piece for the top was applied to the newly established box top.

The scary part was then slicing the top off to form the lid. Finally, koa bandings were used to finish off the box.

An interesting side note: I picked up a very nicely constructed veneer press from David Coleman (Veneer Press) which I used in this project. I had been using all sorts of wooden cauls in the past for small projects like this (although I usually resort to a vacuum press for larger ones). This press was built like a battleship and, with its compact size, has been a great addition to my shop.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

30 comments so far

View handyrandyrc's profile


33 posts in 3644 days

#1 posted 08-31-2012 02:54 PM

You amaze me. Great detail and intricate design.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3825 days

#2 posted 08-31-2012 03:04 PM

Holy moly. I can’t imagine how many hours went into that. Just amazing.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Julian's profile


1676 posts in 4030 days

#3 posted 08-31-2012 03:16 PM

Beautifully done. Hope you have more photos you can post while making this box. Another supberb marquetry project.

-- Julian

View Ivan's profile


17143 posts in 4207 days

#4 posted 08-31-2012 03:35 PM

Awsome marquetry!So much work arround it,beautifull

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4442 days

#5 posted 08-31-2012 03:39 PM

The outside looks great. I would like to see the inside and hinges….............

-- mike...............

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4138 days

#6 posted 08-31-2012 04:02 PM

Just another beauty Bob.
I always love to see your marquetry. You are one of my inspirations.
I never thought I’d use my press as much as I do but now when I’m doing marquetry it always has something in it. You will find it handy for lots more than just gluing up. Have you looked into heated metal cauls?

But I digress….......... a beautiful dragon on a fine box accomplished with your customary excellent skill, creativity and craftsmanship. A masterpiece.

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

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4418 days

#7 posted 08-31-2012 04:08 PM

I highly agree with Paul, the Shipwright and all other comments! By the way, have you looked up Paul’s Chevallet(sp?)?

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View BulldogDave's profile


1 post in 3434 days

#8 posted 08-31-2012 04:20 PM

What an incredible project. Like the projects that you shared with me in Dayton, OH recently another beautiful piece of work.I would love to see the walnut burl on the inside. Thank you for commenting on the press and including Bob Langs post about it at PopWood.

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4407 days

#9 posted 08-31-2012 04:20 PM

Paul(s), I would love to go the chevalet route, but have to make some room in the shop first. Woodworking was originally a very part time hobby, but now that I’m retired I realize I made the shop area WAY too small! We’ve been clearing out a larger area in the basement, and I already have my greedy eyeballs on a spot for the chevalet!

Have not looked into heated cauls as of yet, Paul. I saw your notes on that, and it looks like a great trick to add.

Mike, I’ll put a photo up of the inside in a moment. I used Brusso hinges for the box—I like the solid stop feeling of those solid brass units. Pricey, but worth it.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4407 days

#10 posted 08-31-2012 04:35 PM

I’ve uploaded a photo of the box inside. Nothing particularly special, but the walnut burl seems to add a bit of pizazz to an otherwise plain interior. The box will eventually be lined with a Chinese pattern paper, which I am still debating.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3720 days

#11 posted 08-31-2012 06:10 PM

Beautiful work, truly impressive.

-- Rick M,

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3528 days

#12 posted 08-31-2012 06:17 PM

A work of art ! That burl on the inside top is gorgeous too !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4274 days

#13 posted 08-31-2012 09:03 PM

That’s a beautifull box.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8458 posts in 4693 days

#14 posted 08-31-2012 09:42 PM

Excellent work! You defiantly have a talent for this!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Sodabowski's profile


2402 posts in 4173 days

#15 posted 08-31-2012 10:39 PM

Wow! ‘nuff said with that!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

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