Marquetry Cutting Styles #3: Classic Style

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 06-12-2011 04:39 PM 6830 reads 10 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Boulle Style Part 3 of Marquetry Cutting Styles series Part 4: "Painting in Wood" »

The Classic Style is the most difficult of the saw cut styles to master. It involves cutting each piece separately, from packets of veneer, each composed of only one color or species. It’s considerable advantage is that it can produce as many identical motifs as the number of layers in your packets. This can reduce the labor and increase the speed of production of pieces with repetitive motifs or enable the production of several identical pieces.

The first step as in other styles is to produce a drawing segmented into the pieces you want to cut. I did this one from a photo. The various segments are numbered to indicate the veneer used for that piece.

In Classic Style the next step is to assemble packets, in my case here, of six layers of one veneer. This is a packet of shop cut Holly. It has been fastened with marquetry pins and it’s edges have been taped to further compact it. A segment of the drawing which includes several holly parts has been attached to it with spray glue.

When one of the elements is cut, again with the saw blade at exactly 90 degrees, six identical elements are produced.

The other packets are cut one by one until all the elements are cut and ready to assemble.

This photo shows the difference between the results of the Boulle cut motif in the last blog entry and this one cut in Classic Style. The pros for Classic Style are obvious. The big con is simply that as each piece is separately cut, the perfect fits guaranteed by the other styles are no longer a given. In theory anyway, in Classic Style, you cut the outside half of the line on the internal part and the inside half of the line when cutting the field. IF you can do this, you get another pro in that unlike the Boulle Style there will be no saw kerf. This was my first try and I can tell you that it is not easy. I have lots of gaps…..but I learned something and I will improve.

I have used one other method of cutting marquetry using a router and an inlay bushing set. It is detailed here: It too has it’s advantages, particularly for very large projects and in places where the pattern facilitates repetitive cuts.

All these methods and the knife methods (See Dennis Zongker’s blog: ) have their advantages and disadvantages. They can be used alone or in conjunction with each other. It all works.

Edit: I’ve added another segment,”Painting in Wood” style following in the another segment of the blog.

I hope that this has cleared up some of the terminology confusion around marquetry styles .

Thanks for looking in.


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

16 comments so far

View Brit's profile


8377 posts in 4054 days

#1 posted 06-12-2011 04:46 PM

Thank you for taking the time to do this Paul, it has helped my understanding no end.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 4133 days

#2 posted 06-12-2011 04:53 PM

Amazing Chevalet in the hands of a master like you. The cuts are so precise! Unbelievable. I was thinking it was painted and not marquetry. Keep it going. I am learning so fast but not doing it. I tried with knife one time but the veneer easily splits into its grain. Maybe the veneer I am using it not as good quality you are using.
Thanks for the very imformative and easy to understand blogs.

-- Bert

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 4185 days

#3 posted 06-12-2011 05:04 PM

Holy smokes that takes talent and attention to detail; you are incredibly skilled!
My OCD is best left at work

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 5411 days

#4 posted 06-12-2011 05:45 PM

Paul your blog is great, I have read alot of books on Marquetry and your blog is as complete as any thing I have read. Thank you for taking the time to share your skills with us. i want to build myself a chevelet as soon as I get a chance to work on something for me instead of the rest of the family. thanks again.

-- Billp

View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 4041 days

#5 posted 06-12-2011 05:48 PM

Big thanks for these blog entries. They gave a good overview of the techniques out there and their results.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4545 days

#6 posted 06-12-2011 06:09 PM

Thanks Paul, very interesting and informative and a great job on the ship marquetry too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4247 days

#7 posted 06-12-2011 07:57 PM

So not one but a whole fleet in one go. Thanks for the tutorial, Paul.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View shipwright's profile


8747 posts in 4009 days

#8 posted 06-12-2011 09:03 PM

Yes Martyn, If the Spanish had known about this before the battle of Trafalgar, you might be speaking a different language. :D

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

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 4007 days

#9 posted 06-12-2011 10:52 PM

Looks like you are also making good use of your Chevalet. Thanks for the explanation.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4015 days

#10 posted 06-13-2011 01:21 AM

my gosh! yer like a marquetry god

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3659 posts in 4924 days

#11 posted 06-13-2011 05:21 AM


Now that we know all these methods, we need to practice, practice, practice if we are ever to come close to your expertise.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4810 days

#12 posted 06-13-2011 02:26 PM

What time this took….. Thanks for the explanation, Great Job!!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Schwieb's profile


1919 posts in 4673 days

#13 posted 06-13-2011 07:55 PM

Wonderful job on this Paul….. I admire your patience in writing this up

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

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3873 days

#14 posted 06-14-2011 04:08 AM

wonderful job , and explanation Paul . I have to say again,(and ” autumn” will probably vouch for this.), the cutting process is similar to cutting pearl , sans the packet cutting and chevalet.Cutting half the line on the pattern or drawing is difficult, especially when you have to try and keep the jewelers saw at 90 degrees, but as you said, it eliminates the saw kerf.The beauty of your chevalet,is that it keeps your cut at 90 degrees to the surface. Thanks for posting

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View rance's profile


4279 posts in 4372 days

#15 posted 06-23-2011 08:28 AM

Thanks for posting this Paul. Very fascinating. Your blog is concise, clear, and to the point. Thanks for sharing part of your vast knowledge. My brain just grew a bit.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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