• Advertise with us
Blog entry by stefang posted 05-21-2012 10:09 AM 2245 reads 0 times favorited 45 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Why intarsia?
I wanted to try my hand at intarsia and maybe marquetry later on. I have been seeing some of Kory’s wonderful intarsia projects for awhile and also Shipwrights beautiful marquetry, both of which I find very inspiring. (project Photos at the bottom)

I decided to go the intarsia route first as this type of work is easier done on a scroll saw whereas fine marquetry when done on a scroll saw requires advanced sawing skills which can only be learned through practice, and I haven’t been using my scroll saw very much, so I thought I’d better start with intarsia to hone my skills.

The appeal of intarsia work
That said, I don’t regard intarsia work as a lesser form of craft art. I love that it is 3 dimensional and that sculpting is also required. To me, the result you get with intarsia is closely related to relief carving, even though the work itself is entirely different as are the skills involved.

Getting started
This intarsia work is my 2nd try after doing a little practice bird. It is based on a pencil drawing by my son Mark. It is his take on the comic book version of Thor. I liked that the drawing was somewhat dynamic, and that turning it into an intarsia piece would present a worthwhile challenge and also incorporate other elements such as a little carving.

The reward
It has been a great learning piece so far. I took my son’s drawing and traced the main features on my light table, then I completed the details afterward. My revised drawing then became the cutting plan. Making the plan took about an hour. I’m not very artistic and I don’t know the first thing about anatomy so the muscles didn’t come out as good as hoped for. I did thoroughly enjoy every step of the work done on this project. I hope it will at least give you a laugh.

Steps towards creating this project
I will be posting this as a project when it’s finished. I am leaving for holiday soon, so it may be awhile. The first photo below is my son’s original drawing and then my intarsia version. The 3rd photo is after flat cutting and the 4th is after adjusting the heights of various pieces and sculpting with my Dremel sanding drum and then carving the clothing.

I was originally going to paint this work, but I felt that it was ok in the natural pine so I just left it that way. It is made up of about 150 pieces.

I’m very open to any suggestions you might have for improvements. Thanks for having a look!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

45 comments so far

View Brit's profile


7789 posts in 3324 days

#1 posted 05-21-2012 10:26 AM

That looks like a lot of fun Mike and quite an ambitious project for your second intarsia project. I think it turned out great. I’m glad I don’t have Thor’s chisel bacause he looks like he wants it back badly.

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

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3822 days

#2 posted 05-21-2012 10:30 AM

what a great new skill mike

the only one laughing
wiil be your son
when he sees how you took his drawing
and honor him thru your work

pride for the two if you

keep them coming

and enjoy your holiday

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View degoose's profile


7255 posts in 3836 days

#3 posted 05-21-2012 10:56 AM

Thor was my hero as a kid…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3285 days

#4 posted 05-21-2012 11:12 AM

It is excellent Mike. I like your outlook on the art of intarsia. I never thought of it quite like that, but, it makes sense. Thor does look like he is really pee-oooed at something or someone, and he’s about to step right outta that wood

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

View 489tad's profile


3638 posts in 3492 days

#5 posted 05-21-2012 12:09 PM

I think that looks great. I agree not to paint it. Well done!

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4363 days

#6 posted 05-21-2012 12:13 PM

That is so cool. And well done too.
Go Thor!


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View terryR's profile


7524 posts in 2789 days

#7 posted 05-21-2012 12:45 PM

wow, Mike, that’s an impressive piece for your 2nd attempt at intarsia! I love the muscles in his left forearm! Nice job carving his chest armor, too…

I play with intarsia, too, but haven’t made it past 40 pieces or so…

IMO thor does’t need to be improved…he looks great! you could add woodburned lines to highlight some details arond his belt or armband…anywhere you want…but he looks good to me as is!

Thanks for sharing…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3083 days

#8 posted 05-21-2012 12:45 PM

That looks really great. I think it also looks good just as it is. Excellent work.

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3815 days

#9 posted 05-21-2012 01:26 PM

Thanks everyone so much for your nice comments. Terry Thanks, I did think about doing some wood burning, but I’m pretty bad at that and I find the smoke bothers me too. However, a good alternative to wood burning is scrimshaw work where you incise a line with a knife and then rub a mixture of a dark sawdust and oil over it. This leaves it looking almost exactly like burning, depending on how wide the cut width is. I considered that too, but just didn’t around to it, but I probably will on a future project.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View terryR's profile


7524 posts in 2789 days

#10 posted 05-21-2012 01:42 PM

Mike, thanks for sharing the alternative trick…I’ve read that before…but it was lost in the empty spaces in my brain! Will have to try that…

You are very lucky to have a skilled artist for a son! It sure seems most of these intarsia patterns are sorta feminine…nothing wrong with butterflies and birds…I made a butterfly…but, creating my own patterns is my next step…thanks for the inspiration to try something more difficult!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4267 posts in 3645 days

#11 posted 05-21-2012 01:53 PM

You and your son are a real duo. I can see a box, chest, door, etc with some intarsia on it. Bet you two could design some pretty fancy stuff together.

Hope all is well, I am still plodding around doing work related stuff. I have kinda deadlined myself for June 1, and then I can get back in the shop. But the first thing in a row will be a visit from my daughter and family from Fairbanks on the first week in June. Not much shop time that weekend. However, I might try and get my oldest grandson to try a little scrollwork….........that would be an excuse to get into the shop. If I go that route, I will PM you to ask for tips, since I know your grandkids use your saw.


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View SisQMark's profile


384 posts in 3081 days

#12 posted 05-21-2012 02:19 PM

Awesome job Mike!! I wish i could do that kind of work. Have a great day.

-- Don't waste today, it is yesterdays tomorrow!~SisQMark

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3815 days

#13 posted 05-21-2012 02:25 PM

Yes Jim, I am lucky that both my sons are very artistic. Mark, who drew this picture lives in Sweden. We are driving over there to visit him and his wife in a couple of days.

I got him a great minilathe and some turning tools plus a grinder which have been delivered to him already. I am bringing the rest of the equivalent of a modest workshop to him with us in the car (providing I can get it all in there).

This includes my old, but good Delta scroll saw, a table top drill press, my old Delta bandsaw, a nice miter saw, a jigsaw, a circle saw and some other hand tools. We will be setting up the lathe and putting the bandsaw back together, then if he is up to it, I will teach him how to turn and get him started on the scroll saw.

I hope he will like it, and if he does he should be able to make some really nice stuff considering his artistic talents. He has a formal education in graphics, but has never had a chance to work at it professionally due to his bad health. He also has some other outdoor projects to do on the house, so I hope I can help him with that as well. A perfect holiday for me, as I get very bored just sitting around sipping Pina Coladas, ha, ha.

I plan to take a lot of photos of our woodworking adventure together and I will probably be posting a blog about our experience when I get home. Meanwhile my son has cautioned me several times about all the reindeer crossing the road and the completely insane drivers in the north of Sweden. I guess he forgot that I’m one of them!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sharad's profile


1118 posts in 4285 days

#14 posted 05-21-2012 03:10 PM

Mike, you have again shown your great talents through this work. I really admire your craze for learning new things at this age and you are always successful. Your son looks to be a fantastic artist. I am glad you are setting up workshop for him and teaching him some basic skills. Waiting for your photos on your wood working adventures and if possible of a reindeer on your way to Sweeden.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3348 days

#15 posted 05-21-2012 04:08 PM

Mike, I have absolutely no criticism or advice on how to improve it. It’s wonderfully done and shows a lot of talent and creativity. Congratulations.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

showing 1 through 15 of 45 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