Tried Something New Today

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Blog entry by stefang posted 01-18-2013 06:26 PM 2140 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been trying to figure out how I was going to do the belly of the dragon. I wanted it to look pretty much like the pattern, but didn’t know how to do the outlining of each belly segment.

Shipwright suggested I could use a black mastic. That sounded pretty good, but then remembering that I plan to resaw the completed marquetry into two pieces, I realized that the mastic would probably get hot and make a mess while it was being bandsawed. So it seemed to me that the thin surrounding lines would just have to be wood.

I woke up early this morning and a solution came to me before I got up. I would cut out the belly pieces in a sub-assembly and then use that to trace an outline onto my main workpiece, saw it out and insert it.

I decided to use some nice walnut for the outline wood. I thought it would look better than the black with a little less contrast, but still dark enough to stand out clearly. I used what I think is Silk wood for the yellow parts. My sub-assembly solution worked well since the outline is very thin. Here’s what I did.

I am tired of cutting veneer pattern attachments. It wastes wood and takes more time, so I picked up some strong, thin poster type paper to see if that would work. If you remember, I attach it to the back of the workpiece before cutting out and then take it off to use it to trace the pattern of the infill pieces onto the infill wood. I decided to see if it would work, and it did as you can see below.

The next step was to prepare a small Walnut blank with the post paper attached.

Then I attached the pattern on the other side, clipped off an extra pattern copy.

I sawed out belly segments from the pattern leaving a piece of walnut as pictured with a lot of holes and thin separating pieces.

As often happens, the theory was great, but it didn’t work in real life. The paper pattern shredded on the thin part, suddenly I didn’t have a pattern to trace my infill pieces with!

So now I knew that very thin lines didn’t work with the poster paper. I could recut the whole thing again using a thin veneer, but the same thing was likely to happen with that too.

Being too lazy to recut the whole thing, I decided to use the workpiece itself as my pattern. This would present a challenge though as getting a pencil in to outline some of those small hole was impossible. I tried and failed with sharp things. I finally figured out a tool that would work. I used a very small diamond point engraving tool mounted in my Dremel that was small enough to get into all the tiny corners on the tiny cut-outs and my pencil for the others. You can see the Dremel in the last photo above.

The segments were then glued into the sub-assembly cut-outs as shown below.

After gluing in the individual segments and letting it dry a little while, I marked and cut around the sub-assembly piece, leaving a thin outline of Walnut all the way around.

Next I placed the completed sub-assembly directly onto the corresponding spot on the workpiece and make a pencil outline around it. This was then cut out and the sub-assembly was glued into place as shown in the photos below.

Keep in mind that when finished the Ash dragon body and the Walnut outlines on the belly will darken considerably, which should give a nice contrast.

You might notice that part of the flame pattern is missing where it crosses the belly. I will be replacing that and I will be cutting out that portion of the belly where the flame should be.

I didn’t get a lot done today due to once again exploring new territory, but I am satisfied with the result and I am relieved to know that the rest of it will come out ok. I did break one of the fine lines on the cut-outs for the upper belly section so I have to recut that whole string of segments again before finishing it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

11 comments so far

View cosmicturner's profile


403 posts in 3875 days

#1 posted 01-18-2013 06:36 PM

Really nice…you do amazing work Mike…and it is funny how problems sometimes go away after a good nights sleep…

-- Cosmicturner

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3814 days

#2 posted 01-18-2013 06:42 PM

Thanks CT. Yes sleeping does help solve problems. If I were supreme leader I would have to sleep an awful lot to solve the worlds problems (don’t worry, I haven’t applied for the job).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4362 days

#3 posted 01-18-2013 06:50 PM

“I woke up early this morning and a solution came to me before I got up.” So I am not the only one….

This has been fascinating, Mike. I have never tried something like this before and it has me thinking.

Good job Sir,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3783 days

#4 posted 01-18-2013 06:55 PM

well your doing really good, as with all new phases of wood work, its trail and error, and your learning, and doing a splendid job, your doing a whole lot better then i would do, i might have had a fire in the wood stove by now…keep at it happy to see you doing so well..congrats buddy…grizz…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View shipwright's profile


8357 posts in 3278 days

#5 posted 01-18-2013 07:31 PM

You are doing really well Mike.
I have always had what I refer to as the little guy who lives in the back of my head. He thinks while I sleep and is much smarter than I am. My best ideas invariably appear mysteriously in my conscious mind when I wake up.

If I might make a suggestion, your cutting looks very accurate to me. I think you could save yourself a lot of grief by just cutting in “classic” classic style, as in with identical paper patterns for background and infill pieces. I know you want to see how your idea works and it obviously works well but the only thing you are gaining is a small compensation for missing the line on the first cut. The second cuts still have to be accurate and it seems to me that you are cutting accurately enough that you don’t need the crutch. This is not a criticism of your idea. It is a compliment to your cutting. The idea is brilliant. I just don’t think you need to do all the extra work.

The mastic I referred to was what I use for filler which is very fine sanding dust and hot hide glue. It would not become thermoplastic when re-sawing but may present a penetration problem with such a thick veneer. Also it is only to fill the kerf, not to create a dark area, that’s where the sand shading comes in.

Just a couple of ideas, you really don’t need help.
I’m completely impressed with your progress this far… It’s going to be a smashing piece when you finish.

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

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3019 days

#6 posted 01-18-2013 07:35 PM

Looking great Mike, and from your choice of pattern I see you are jumping right in the deep end like Paul mentioned.

-- I never finish anyth

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3814 days

#7 posted 01-18-2013 08:05 PM

Thanks Steve, Grizz, Paul and Phillip.

Paul You have a lot more confidence in me than I have! One good reason for doing it the way I am is because I am not cutting the exact pattern. I am in fact making some changes where necessary as I cut to make the design work for scroll sawing better and also due to whimsy. I have some changing on my first marquetry and also on my Thor intarsia. I did make an outline pattern of Thor, but then changed it underway anyway. I am plagued by a lack of discipline (just ask my wife). This might change eventually if I don’t die of old age first, then I might try to do it the right way! I don’t plan sand shading for this project. I will instead be cutting out and inserting some white into the belly segments like in the original design. I’ll test first to see if it looks ok. I will try shading perhaps for my next project, but I don’t want to get too many new things going all at once. I also haven’t tried my hide glue yet for the same reason.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Brit's profile


7789 posts in 3323 days

#8 posted 01-18-2013 10:33 PM

Very inspiring Mike. I love the way you think outside the box and find the solution. Don’t rush it now because it is looking too good to mess up. :o)

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

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3576 days

#9 posted 01-18-2013 11:03 PM

Wow, Mike!!! That looks amazing. Glad to see you are keeping yourself entertained.

-- John from Hampstead

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3284 days

#10 posted 01-18-2013 11:37 PM

You are one heck of an intarsian… ( i think that’s a word)... amazing Mike.

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

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3814 days

#11 posted 01-19-2013 11:51 AM

Thanks Andy, John and Roger. intarsia is the 3 dimensional and marquetry is flat. I love intarsia work, but I’ve taken up marquetry because I like the flat surface design for box lids and such. it is also perhaps best on furniture, especially table tops, but also cabinet sides which make it easier to keep clean and undamaged.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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