FANTASY MARQUETRY #4: Evolution of the Wizard Design

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Blog entry by stefang posted 08-24-2014 06:35 PM 2258 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Preparing a packet For Cutting Part 4 of FANTASY MARQUETRY series Part 5: Assembling the Packet (at last) »

WARNING An important part of this marquetry, but no woodworking involved.

Since I am attempting to take you on my complete novice journey with this project I have to bring up the subject of the design again, but in more detail this time.

The design for a marquetry is everything. No matter how beautiful the veneers are or how well cut and joined they are, the final project will be judged on the basis of how good the finished picture looks.

You can start out with a very nice photo or drawing, but you will soon discover that converting it into an outline drawing that looks good and is possible to cut might present quite a challenge. That is what I was faced with in working with this wizard painting shown below done by my son Mark.

For this project I used my light table to trace the different renditions of the design and with varying degrees of success. Here are the results and my thoughts as I worked through the process.

The original painting. It looked somewhat challenging, but doable to me. Here is the first tracing I made. Way too much detail! I tried to envision how in the world I would be able to produce veneer patches for all of this! It would take a lot more than the 6 or 7 layers which I was shooting for. I should mention here that packets with over 7 layers are not the best idea because the thicker the pack the more the accuracy suffers. That translates to wider gaps between mating pieces. I got depressed just looking at it and almost gave up the project right then.

I decided that what I needed was an outline and very simplified detail just to clear my head and make the basis for something that I could actually hope to cut, so here is what I came up with next.

Then I found that I could add a little more detail as long as it wasn’t too small, so that was incorporated into the drawing below. Now things were looking up and I began to have hope that I could manage to make a picture (never mind how good it would be).

The drawing above was numbered to correspond with the numbers I assigned the different veneers to be used and I used it to cut the veneer patches which were inserted into 7 layers of poster board ‘wasters’. As I progressed I saw that more detail could be added, but I was pretty close to the limit of veneers that my 7 layers could accommodate.

I decided that I could add the tree bark details a couple of other small things and that would be that. Here is the final cut pattern for the first packet. Please not that I have now identified each piece with a number (unrelated to the veneer ID) so I will know where they belong after being cut.

I may still be able to add a couple more veneer patches to some areas on some of the existing layers, but being new to this technique I feel that this packet is pretty well finished.

My plan is cut the first packet and then assemble the cuttings and use them as one layer in a new packet which will encompass the last details which were omitted in the first cutting or which were added to the drawing afterward.

I know this is pretty boring, but I think it is part of the work and even though I may be making it more difficult than it needs to be it will at least address part of the marquetry process. I hope you find something interesting here. My next blog on this will cover putting the packet together ready for cutting. Thanks for following with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

14 comments so far

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3666 days

#1 posted 08-24-2014 10:10 PM

Thanks for this latest instalment. AS a novice at marquetry I am really enjoying this blog and learning from it.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3787 days

#2 posted 08-25-2014 01:36 AM

Stellar Mike!

-- I never finish anyth

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2877 days

#3 posted 08-25-2014 02:13 AM

Just a thought, Mike. I can remember seeing an offer for software that supposedly converts any picture into a paint-by-number diagram. Maybe something like that would work for you in the future.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View shipwright's profile


8753 posts in 4046 days

#4 posted 08-25-2014 04:23 AM

It’s definitely fun watching you figure this out Mike. You are doing really well and I have no doubt this will turn out great.
Keep up the good work.

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

View Dutchy's profile


4194 posts in 3417 days

#5 posted 08-25-2014 06:36 AM

No boring at all. Thank you for the explanation. I like it to follow fellow.


View robscastle's profile


8280 posts in 3452 days

#6 posted 08-25-2014 07:34 AM

Mike its far from boring, even your photo with the complicated detail is mind boggling.

I can see why you reduced the detail even the “cut by numbers” is complicated!

You must have very good eyesight! unfortunately for me its beyond my visual ability.

I tried to cut three layers of veneer on my scroll saw some time ago and it was a complete failure!

I never tried again, but I did show it to my closest woodworking buddy degoose and from then on in I always called on expertise to laser cut my veneer work.

He lives about 1hr drive away but the results from his laser are worth it.

Apart from seeing his setup and wanting more tools.

But as I am just a humble woodworker with no income and no workshop only my drive way and garden, what more could a man ask for!!

Plus its a nice drive

So I will be watching with a little experience to see your outcome.
Have you tried to sand any of your veneer on the drum sander yet?

A question:

-- Regards Rob

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#7 posted 08-25-2014 11:07 AM

Peter I would wait to see how this comes out to make sure there is anything to learn here!

Philip Thanks

John I have something similar, but auto computer programs don’t really behave the way I want. If I do use the computer it will have to be after I become proficient with one of the programs Like Inkscape which Paul aka Shipwright has done, and where the user decides where the lines will go.

Paul I hope you are right. I can’t wait to get started cutting. The reason I chose this particular method first was because I know that even if I can’t cut exactly on the line, the pieces will still fit fairly well anyway (I hope).

Dutchy Thanks, I hope you are enjoying it.

Robert I have a magnifying lamp on my scroll saw which I find absolutely essential. Unfortunately it can’t be used on my Chevalet, so I will have to try magnifying glasses eventually. My eyesight isn’t all that great either. However, good lighting does help a lot and my shop is well lighted.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1921 posts in 4709 days

#8 posted 08-25-2014 11:52 AM

I’m learning along with you. Very interesting, Mike!

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#9 posted 08-25-2014 11:57 AM

I was very glad to see your very nice new marquetry project Ken and I liked that you combined it with wood turning. I hope I can do that too. It’ll give me a good excuse to get back into turning which I haven’t done much of lately.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8753 posts in 4046 days

#10 posted 08-25-2014 03:34 PM

Just one point to remind you of.
PIW does give perfect fits but like Boulle style, be careful of making very small parts. A tiny part with a kerf all the way around can appear to be (and is) a bad fit.
I cut those bits again from a separate packet to the outside of the line.
Good luck on the cutting.

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4115 days

#11 posted 08-25-2014 03:36 PM

Very creative, Mike, and it’s coming along well.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#12 posted 08-25-2014 04:09 PM

Paul Thanks for that tip. I have already been thinking about badly cut or poor fitting pieces. A 4/0 blade would probably be better for cutting those smaller pieces. I could probably just cut out those bad parts and use the window created to cut a replacement with my knife which might be easier than sawing. I’ll probably have to try out both methods to see which I prefer. I am fully expecting that there will be some repair or even revision work after the first cutting. I may even add the last details with knife cut parts if that works out ok.

Charles Thanks for your encouragement. Did you have a chance to take any photos at the wood show?

I am finished with the patching now after adding a few more today. I plan to start assembling the packet tomorrow. That was supposed to happen today, but I had to drive the wife for some shopping this morning.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4052 days

#13 posted 08-30-2014 08:27 PM

I am thoroughly enjoying the ride Mike.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#14 posted 08-31-2014 08:09 AM

Glad you are Roger.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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