Another marqueted lid box

  • Advertise with us
Project by Sodabowski posted 05-31-2013 02:19 PM 2616 views 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Another marqueted lid box
Another marqueted lid box No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
Zoom Pictures

Hi folks,

Yet another marqueted poplar box. This one took me quite some time to make, mainly because my thin blades were at the parents’ house. This was done in three steps. Alas I can’t seem to find the pictures of making the marquetry before adding in the diamond shape. Anyway.

I first applied the banding to the sides, then measured to add the BeM ground, and the box stayed like that for some time.

After some thinking, the idea of a diamond-shaped insert was validated. So I added the Vavona burl diamond:

and there it sat until late April, when I finally got to the parents’ and completely emptied the workshop. Having at great last access to my scrollsaw, I cutout the letters in Chlorociboria-stained beech – which, by the way, had interesting lines but was really munched-up, it’s amazing what CA glue can do to this wood, not only did it save and stabilize it but it also deepened the color!

Now, how do you inset letters into an already veneered top? With patience and a soft touch. First I laid out the template for the letters and roughly marked their positions with a sharpie, making sure to only draw far from the edges. This was to have visual clues as to where I needed to put the letters:

Then I glued the still thick letters to said template (which was printed reversed) with CA glue and proceeded to slowly take them down to thickness, with a sanding disk attached to my drill press. 120 grit was actually pretty fast but not too aggressive, and the thinning down process came out fast and smooth. Mind you, the letters were completely impregnated with thin CA glue and left to harden for several hours.

Sorry, I couldn’t shoot the sanding down process… I kept them kinda thick, all I needed here was to give them a nice, flat back (they started at 5.4 mm with quite a bow). So now that they were 2mm and flat, I laid the letters onto the box, adjusted the positions, and temporarily glued them with a tiny amount of CA glue:

Then it was a matter of contouring them with my thin scalpels, then remove the glued letters with a razor blade (fast and easy as there was very little glue), and dig into the top following the carved lines. Here my diamond tools for gemstone work really helped, particularly the curved one with flat sides that I use here:

Using that tool allowed me to have vertical sides and once the letters were inserted into the top there were no gaps at all. Tedious, because the top veneer was glued with contact cement (I really need to get me some hot hide glue) but it came out quite okay.

Once the letters were installed, I came back to the drill press and again carefully sanded down the letters flush, and eventually scraped it slightly with a scary-sharp chisel.

The main problem that I’ve had with this box has been related to the finishing: the Vavona burl didn’t evenly suck in the CA glue, so I had to flood it and hope that it would get deep enough – alas it didn’t. So I tried a coat of shellac, which obviously didn’t work, so I came back to CA, flooded the whole surface of the diamond, and hoped for the best, not having a vacuum system yet. Some sanding took care of the biggest imperfections but a few pits still remained here and there. Oh well. When I gave the box to Irina, she was both very surprised and pleased – she was still wondering why on earth I had asked her among three designs with her initials which one she prefered. Now she had the answer, and a brand new jewelry box with red velvet lining (which I didn’t shoot, dang).

Bottomline: best practice is to design the veneer before starting it, but when working with the very delicate Chlorociboria-stained spalted stuff, you have to do things differently. You can also expect a neat darkening effect of the CA glue when working with that stuff – partly because the solvent in the CA will migrate some of the xylindein in the wood.

Hope you guys will find this little experiment on marquetry with punky wood useful, or at least relevant to your interests ;)

Cheers from rainy France.

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

21 comments so far

View Dominik Matus's profile

Dominik Matus

104 posts in 2989 days

#1 posted 05-31-2013 02:23 PM

Well done. You could inlayed letters more deeper, or is board too thick?

-- Cabinetmaker, restorer

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3946 days

#2 posted 05-31-2013 02:25 PM

Thomas, you did a fine job on this. Your design also shows a lot of imagination and I love the wood and colors that you play against each other for a nice effect. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View shipwright's profile


8712 posts in 3878 days

#3 posted 05-31-2013 03:48 PM

Great experiment and superb result.
Doing things the hard way teaches you so much more than doing it the easy way. ;-)

Nice work.

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

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3913 days

#4 posted 05-31-2013 04:44 PM

Thanks for the support guys.
Paul, I will definitely follow your steps when time permits, I really want to take my marquetry to the next level :)

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

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3913 days

#5 posted 05-31-2013 04:46 PM

@Dominik: I could have inlaid the letters further, sure, but the problem would have been routing into the wood without losing the sharp points. I didn’t want to spend five hours manually routing with a 0.2mm drill bit and possibly ruin the piece when I could do it by cutting out the top veneer in ten minutes ;)

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

View Ken90712's profile


17996 posts in 4268 days

#6 posted 05-31-2013 04:49 PM

Great work, looks perfect.

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

View Ottacat's profile


556 posts in 2931 days

#7 posted 05-31-2013 05:50 PM

Really nice work. Where did you get the banding for the top edges? Would also be nice to see a pic of the whole box from a little further back.

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3913 days

#8 posted 05-31-2013 06:32 PM

@ Ottacat: I got the inlay banding from a french ebay seller (and I bought all that he had), alas the wood is not naturally stained, but well, the girls like it. He didn’t have much though. I’ll try to remember to shoot another picture of the box when visiting my friend Irina next time :)

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4414 days

#9 posted 05-31-2013 07:40 PM

Very nicely done and a great result.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3328 days

#10 posted 05-31-2013 07:59 PM

That came out awesome. I really like it


View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3913 days

#11 posted 05-31-2013 08:01 PM

Thanks guys. BTW Joe, did you think about inlaying stuff into your cutting boards?

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

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3592 days

#12 posted 05-31-2013 09:43 PM

Thumbs up

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3903 days

#13 posted 05-31-2013 09:54 PM

Very nice work Thomas, you obviously have a keen eye & steady hand guiding your knife, great result :)

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

View horologist's profile


106 posts in 4819 days

#14 posted 06-01-2013 01:51 AM

Quite okay indeed. That had to be tough to strike a balance between holding the letters firmly enough to cut the outline without attaching them so solidly that they would break when you separated them from the lid. My one experience with punky wood was not so successful.

I am interested in seeing more about these diamond tools for gemstone work. Are they chisels, burnishers?

-- Troy in Melrose, Florida

View Schwieb's profile


1916 posts in 4541 days

#15 posted 06-01-2013 10:47 AM

Nice work Thomas. I’m sure Irina loved it. When you say you flooded the surface with CA, are you doing that literally? Like a finish?

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics