Combining my Passions: Friendship Marquetry. #2: Tiny Pieces, Cutting and Management

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 04-24-2013 03:31 AM 3372 reads 4 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Upgrading my Desk Doors Part 2 of Combining my Passions: Friendship Marquetry. series Part 3: More Pieces,... Hull and Sails »

Whenever I post one of these blogs people ask how I cut, handle and keep track of the tiny pieces. It’s an acquired talent I guess. In my case I use things I’ve been taught , things I’ve read and some that I just made up.
Taking them one at a time the first would be …..........

”How are they cut”?

I’m sure that there are some out there who can cut this part on a scroll saw, but I’m certainly not one of them. On the chevalet however, it is quite easy and can be done reasonably quickly with a little practice. It is a little harder though when there’s a camera between your face and the cut. This is the setup I used to get a close up view of the cut. You’ll have to imagine the camera mounted on the tripod, I had to remove it to take the picture.

Here’s the video of the cut.

<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0” height=”315” width=”420”></iframe>

That’s it. The chevalet does the work. All I do is sit there and saw. Next up would be ….....

”How are the tiny pieces handled?”

Very carefully comes to mind but in reality tweezers are invaluable. I also make use of very sharp dental style picks. The next little video shows the part cut in the last one getting placed in the mockup picture on clear peel and stick paper.
This is the part after placement. The teeny tiny bit I’m playing with at the end of the video is the edge of the cap brim to the right of the rigging wire that will come in later. Now that one is small.

Here’s the video of the placement.

<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0” height=”315” width=”420”></iframe>

That leaves management.
In the photo below three copies of each part are placed in a marquetry tray in a more or less “exploded” view.This is essential when you have a lot of parts, particularly when there are similar ones like the port hole parts.

Working from this tray you can assemble the pictures on a suitable mounting board. For complex assemblies I like the traditional French method taught at ASFM of sticking the pieces, good side down, on stretched french kraft paper with hot hide glue. For simpler ones, I like the clear sticky film.

In this case, because I’m cutting piece by piece and all pieces are cut independently, I have the opportunity to “preview” the picture and make veneer changes if I wish as I go along. As an example the pin rail around the mast doesn’t stand out enough from the cabin front here so I’ll likely change it out to a lighter color.
To accomplish this preview I’m using the clear sticky film over the pattern. I can place the pieces good side down (the good sides have paper reinforcing on them) and see the colors. When using this material it’s a good idea to keep it covered as it seems to lose it’s tack if exposed. In this case I don’t want the pieces very well adhered but if I did, pressing it will ramp up the holding power.

This is my progress as of today. I’ve only been getting a couple of hours a day in the shop ….....yard work, you know.

Tomorrow I hope to cut the hull parts. I’ve chosen a walnut burl in the hope that it will simulate the mottled reflections in the hull paint.
Wish me luck.

Thanks for looking in.


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

21 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5023 days

#1 posted 04-24-2013 03:41 AM


You make it look SO EASY!

Is the blade supporting the workpiece while you’re twisting, etc. & cutting the little pieces?

I see the blade moving all around in the VEE of the Chevy… Is there a word of Caution in there somewhere… or do you just Go For It… like you did?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5023 days

#2 posted 04-24-2013 03:43 AM

I noticed that you went and put that lil “LITTLE microscopic) dot and inserted it where it wanted to go…

Did you have to make sure it was right side up too?

Awesome… My eyes would be going bonkers about now…

All of those lil pieces would be sticking to my thumbs & fingers… Just raising cane.. and getting me FRUSTRATED…

Do you ever get frustrated? Way back when, did you ever get FRUSTRATED?

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View rustynails's profile


926 posts in 3499 days

#3 posted 04-24-2013 03:43 AM

Paul when is the chevalet DVD coming out ?

View shipwright's profile


8638 posts in 3768 days

#4 posted 04-24-2013 03:47 AM

Oops!!! ..... Fixed.

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

View rance's profile


4274 posts in 4131 days

#5 posted 04-24-2013 03:55 AM

You’re a crazy man Paul. Those are some really tiny pieces. Thanks for bringing us into your shop for a closer look though.

I notice you have your blade facing down for your cuts. Do you ever change that? My inclination would be to have it facing up to better see where I’m going. The video was also enlightening as to where you have your blade lying in the ‘V’ groove. I was guessing it would be closer to the bottom, but if it was there, then the issue of seeing where you’re cutting would be worse. Again, thanks for sharing.

This all makes me want to build the benchtop model I drew up and get going.

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

View shipwright's profile


8638 posts in 3768 days

#6 posted 04-24-2013 06:17 AM

Joe, You always ask questions . I guess that means you’re paying attention.

The workpiece is caught between the grip of the jaws, my hand and the blade and I guess is supported in some degree by all of them, but mostly the jaws.
The packet is free to move around with respect to the vee. As long as you follow the line and keep the packet clamped tightly enough that it doesn’t vibrate, you’re fine.
Yes, that tiny spec has shape and must go in right side up. It will be easier to place when there’s background around it.
Do I get frustrated? .... I could have let the second video play another 90 seconds or so while I tried to place that silly spec perfectly … so yes, a little.

Richard, I guess you’ll have to ask Patrick that one. :-)

Rance, Insanity is a real asset in marquetry.
You would never use the chevalet with the blade facing up. The weight of the saw frame is what does the cutting. If you were lifting it into the cut it just wouldn’t work on a number of levels.
You can cut anywhere in the vee or even above it as long as you have the packet supported enough to prevent vibration.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4305 days

#7 posted 04-24-2013 11:10 AM

Very smart filming set-up. Much fun to see you in action Paul. I was watching you cut those small parts thinking that with enough practice I might eventually be able to cut them with my scrollsaw, until seeing that last microscopic piece that is. Your marquetry picture is going to be a sensational when finished. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to share this with us.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5337 posts in 4853 days

#8 posted 04-24-2013 01:27 PM

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Insanity, huh. Well I guess I got soma dat.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Julian's profile


1617 posts in 3661 days

#9 posted 04-24-2013 02:36 PM

Great work. The chevalet appears to allow quite a bit of flexibility for the blade to move around but yet cuts very precisely. Looking forward to see more of your work on this project.

-- Julian

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3509 days

#10 posted 04-24-2013 05:43 PM

Just amazing Paul.

-- I never finish anyth

View ScaleShipWright's profile


253 posts in 2856 days

#11 posted 04-24-2013 07:28 PM

Paul, very interesting video, it really helps understanding the technique and how the chevalet works.

-- God exists... But relax, He's not you!

View justoneofme's profile


844 posts in 3450 days

#12 posted 04-25-2013 03:05 AM

Hi Paul … Great videos! I know I don’t have the patience for that tiny cutting and piecing together anymore!! This is going to be an awesome work of art!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3596 posts in 4683 days

#13 posted 04-25-2013 04:14 AM


I feel so left out! Videos just aren’t an option with dial-up. I wish I could get all the LJs to harass Frontier Telephone for me until they install DSL in my neighborhood. There is so much to learn from people like you.

Thanks for including the still shots for people like me (even though we’re probably the only place on earth without high-speed).


-- “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 mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4060 days

#14 posted 04-26-2013 06:40 PM

It is so amazing to see you in action.
You would laugh big time if you saw me fighting the scrollsaw.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5023 days

#15 posted 04-26-2013 06:47 PM

Paul & All… I hope you don’t mind answering questions…

... to me… that’s a good way of learning something, etc.
... the main objective of the forum… I think…

Your skills continue to just blow me away…

Like that little Dot… Just cutting it out was a real feat requiring a super skill…
(I would have it getting shot out into the room from the tweezers or dropped on the floor where I could NOT find it & have to cut another one, two, or three! I would get FRUSTRATED real FAST)
... let alone messing with tweezers, magnifying glasses, good lighting, glue control, etc. etc. which takes the cake.

Thank you for your help answering questions…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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