Intarsia JMU Duke

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Project by jfk4032 posted 03-18-2014 06:01 PM 2756 views 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My latest intarsia piece is for my oldest son who graduated from JMU both undergrad and grad. I tried a few new techniques on this one that opened my eyes going forward on how I’ll attack all of my intarsia pieces. The most enlightening was the double bevel cutting technique.

It allowed for almost perfect fits between contrasting pieces and by varying the angles I could adjust how high the top pieces would stand proud so I had some dimension sticking above the base piece to give the top pieces shape, depth and contours, yet fit perfectly to the piece below.

I also turned over 40 pieces on my lathe for the cape spikes, whiskers, eyes and crown jewels. I used holly, ebony, purpleheart, yellowheart, blue pine, pink ivory and wenge. 144 piece overall and the dimensions are 13×16 which was way too small in hindsight. I had to work with some extremely small pieces as you can see the scale of it in pictures 4 & 5.

I finished the blue pine (grey pieces) with water based urethane and after several coats of sanding and finish I steel wooled the pieces for a nice soft look with 0000.

Another new technique was that I enhanced the purpleheart prior to finishing by carefully going across the surface with a minitorch. This really brought the purple color to life. It took some practice on some scrap pieces to get the hang of it and not burn the wood, but a great technique to keep in the arsenal. I used satin lacquer spray cans for the purpleheart pieces to retain the most vivid purple color after testing several other finishes. The balance of the pieces were finished with several coats of wipe on satin poly then steel wooled with 0000.

The other new technique I used was to attach the smaller pieces with hot melt to dowels to make them easier to hold and apply the finishes along with a “holie grid” base piece of scrap to hold all of the pieces. For the other extremely small pieces, I held them in place with double sided tape onto other scrap boards. For the spikes I drilled holes into another piece of scrap so only the top part of the spikes would get the finish. This made it easy to apply the finish and keep the level of where the finish went onto the piece precise and consistent. They were such tight fits that any excess finish where it fit into the hole could prevent it from seating into the hole come assembly time.

Hope you guys like it! I know my son and his school buddies sure do.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

16 comments so far

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4591 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 06:47 PM

As a JMU grad I say well done!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30560 posts in 3142 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 06:54 PM

Awesome job. More patience than I have.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View willi3ja's profile


3 posts in 2409 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 08:01 PM

Another JMU grad chiming in to say that looks awesome.

If you end up making any more to sell, lemme know.

View Lance's profile


428 posts in 3330 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 08:12 PM

Really cool piece! I’m interested in making an LSU tiger piece like this, where did you get the template? is there a website you use? or software you use?

-- Lance, Hook'em HORNS! ""V""

View jfk4032's profile


381 posts in 3331 days

#5 posted 03-18-2014 08:13 PM

The amount of time it takes me to produce these, I could never sell them at a reasonable rate! They’re made with lots of love. Sorry no more Dukes in my future…however if you’re interested in the pattern, we can talk. I draw the entire patten in Adobe Illustrator so I can modify and adjust it as necessary. My youngest son is at Maryland so a Terrapin is in the plans for the next year or two. Why can’t my kids go to a college that has an easy mascot to reproduce? JMU and UM probably have the toughest two mascot logos out there!

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View jfk4032's profile


381 posts in 3331 days

#6 posted 03-18-2014 08:17 PM

Hey Lance,

I actually bought a large car magnet from the university bookstore, scanned that and then redrew the entire piece in Adobe Illustrator on top of the the scan so I could modify it as necessary to have pieces that worked better with scroll sawing. It also enables me to print out as many copies as I need and to go back and correctly expand inidividual pieces when I change the angles for double bevel cutting.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View Edwin's profile


157 posts in 3802 days

#7 posted 03-18-2014 09:22 PM

Alot of detail went into this piece… Not to mention Patience… Beautiful… ED

-- Ed Port Republic

View Woodenwizard's profile


1366 posts in 3847 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 10:53 PM

Great Job! a great use for the double bevel method. I use it for my marquetry. Not sure what would take more patience, the marquetry or your intarsia.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View triviasteve's profile


225 posts in 2505 days

#9 posted 03-18-2014 11:30 PM

that is an amazing piece of work. I hope to start doing some intarsia soon. yours is an inspiration!

-- You know I'm on the level 'cause my bubble's in the middle.

View jfk4032's profile


381 posts in 3331 days

#10 posted 03-18-2014 11:36 PM

Once you start with intarsia, it’s tough to stop, you always want to keep pushing your own personal envelope. I’d try KoryK’s tutorial here on LJ’s classes. I really helped me and got me hooked.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View jmartel's profile


8986 posts in 2954 days

#11 posted 03-19-2014 02:15 AM

I went to Virginia Tech just down the road. Passed through JMU quite a bit. Well done.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Ken90712's profile


17888 posts in 3993 days

#12 posted 03-19-2014 08:46 AM

Well done, I just took a class this past weekend on double bevel cutting. Works well. What degree is your table set 6? I forgot to cut counter clock wise once and that changed everthing LOL Great work!

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

View jfk4032's profile


381 posts in 3331 days

#13 posted 03-19-2014 09:39 AM

Hey Ken,

The angle changed depending on how much I wanted the top piece to be raised and how thick the top piece was. It typically ranged between 2.5 degrees and 4.5 degrees. Before each cut with different wood thicknesses I would test the angles to get the desired height or depth depending on which way I cut (counter clockwise or clock wise) As the project went on I noticed that when cutting sharper angles to get more height I also had to offset the actual pattern larger so the actual cutout on the bottom piece matched the original pattern.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View anile8tor's profile


15 posts in 2554 days

#14 posted 03-19-2014 10:26 AM

That is AWESOME! My son is getting ready to attend JMU come August. You did a fantastic job with htis piece.

-- anile8tor

View luv2learn's profile


3069 posts in 3107 days

#15 posted 03-19-2014 04:32 PM

Joel, your attention to detail really manifest itself in this piece. Very nice work.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

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