FANTASY MARQUETRY #12: Nearing the Finish Line

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Blog entry by stefang posted 09-19-2014 02:35 PM 2790 reads 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Stage 1 almost finished Part 12 of FANTASY MARQUETRY series Part 13: Fresh out of the press »

You might be wondering why there hasn’t been a post on this blog for some time. I have just been occupied with, you guessed it, garden work and getting our outdoor stuff stored for the winter, but I did manage to get most of the repairs and finishing touches done on my Wizard marquetry and even managed to get it into my veneer press today. So here is what I did after the initial cutting on my Chevalet.

Repairs, repairs and repairs
You might remember that I had the pattern coming off as I was cutting due to unknowingly gluing it onto a lacquered surface which prevented it from sticking on properly. Afterward I had to recut pieces to fill areas that had been ruined. Adding to the difficulty was the marquetry tape that I had used to reinforce the veneers with also sliding off. All of these problems were of course self-inflicted, but it was a great learning experience, so I’m not whining, just explaining. All of the repair pieces were (rather badly) cut with a craft knife, but I was showing great improvement at that too towards the end.

Sand shading
I can’t say that I was looking forward to the sand shading after my first experience with the coyote box, but it had to be done and this time I used much less sand and got a better result. the work is just sticking the veneer pieces into the sand on edge for about 10 seconds hold it with tweezers. My best guess was that less was more in this case, especially with my limited experience and artistic abilities. I won’t know how this turns out until tomorrow. My expectations are not high. Here is my set up.

Preparing for final gluing
The picture was assembled on transparent plastic shelf paper with the sticky side up and the face side stuck onto it with the back (glue-side) up. My idea was to assemble the picture face down, then take off the pieces that were to be sand shaded, then stick them on to the shelf paper again and apply blue tape to the other side to hold the whole picture together while removing it from the transparent shelf paper. That way I could then glue a layer of craft paper on the face side, again to hold it together for gluing the other side to a substrate after removing the blue tape. If that isn’t clear, just ask!

Great in theory, but the pattern left a lot of thin long pieces wanting to curl up and so did the sand shading to some extent in spite of my having lightly wetted the surface after shading to rehydrate it to prevent curling. Also the number of small pieces made the blue tape not too practical. In the end I just used a modest amount of hot hide glue rubbed into the joints to hold it all together and then I glued on the craft paper afterwards in a press.

My gut feeling is that if anything turns out good on this project I will be very lucky. I’m sure I will still have some repairs to do when I take it out of the veneer press tomorrow. I am of course still hoping that I can still get something out of it which might please the eye of someone who is not acquainted with woodworking in general or marquetry in particular. I doubt that it will thrill you guys though. Here’s a photo of it in the press. (veneer press, not the New York Times).

I will have to glue on a counter veneer onto to the back of the substrate to prevent warping. I didn’t want to use a valuable veneer for this purpose, so I thought I might be able to use the poster board I bought which is almost exactly the same thickness of my marquetry veneers. I decided to do a test first to makes sure it would stick properly (see, I have learned something from my pattern problem). I hammer veneered a piece of poster board onto a piece of 2X4 to see if it would hold as shown here. I will let you know how this worked. It seems cheap and easy, especially for this project.

Finally I took a picture of the two brushes I’ve been using with my hot hide glue. The smaller one is made from the bast (inner bark) of the Linden tree or Bass tree. It’s just a stick of bast that’s been hammered to make it fibrous so it can be used as a brush. It really works well, doesn’t lose it’s bristles and is immune to bacteria which can ruin a batch of glue. It is easily renewed just by beating it with a hammer. If you have Bass bark you can make your own. It cleans up very well too.

The other larger brush is just a round paint brush with plastic holding it together and it seems to work well and clean up well.

So now I just have to sit on pins and needles until tomorrow to see what I’ve done. If it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it might still pass as a Picasso! Ok, Pablo I’m just kidding. Thanks for following with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

26 comments so far

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2877 days

#1 posted 09-19-2014 02:51 PM

I’m sitting here sweating along with you. BTW, that’s one serious press. Any chance of an explosion?

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

View BenhamDesign's profile


289 posts in 2668 days

#2 posted 09-19-2014 02:52 PM

What a great idea to use that jack as a press. I have been trying to come up with something that I have on hand to make into a press, instead buying something and I do have a jack laying around.

-- What I do in and out of the shop at

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#3 posted 09-19-2014 03:04 PM

The press shouldn’t explode John, but it’s an exciting idea. This press design is nothing unique. Many have made them with jacks. It does have to be robust though and you might notice that I have pinned it at the corners top and bottom with solid maple 3/4” dia. pins. and a two ton jack. Some use 3 tons. If you are interested in this particular design I got it from a very good project post here by Mathew Nedeljko. He used a 3 ton jack. I used Douglas fir for mine, but white oak would be even better as it is stronger and more flexible than fir. Northern Fir has a shear strength of 1,400 PSI while oak is 2,000 PSI.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3666 days

#4 posted 09-19-2014 03:27 PM

Hi Mike.

I think I saw the same post about using a hydraulic jack for a veneer press. I went to Princess Auto (our Canadian version of Harbour Freight) and bought the jack last fall. I still have not gotten around to building the press.

When I pulled the pieces of a recent marquetry panel out sand shade them I also ended up with pieces that had shrunk and curled. I did my best to patch it together (in this case rubbing with white glue). I was also worried about the final result. I thought I had ruined the piece.

To my pleasant surprise once I had taken the panel out from between the clamps and cawls and removed the veneer tape from the face everything had flattened out and the joints had closed up. I;m sure you will have the same result.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4202 days

#5 posted 09-19-2014 03:43 PM

Looks like you’re coming right along. Looking forward to seeing the result. Fall chores are getting in the way of my shop time here in Michigan as well. No getting around it, I guess.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#6 posted 09-19-2014 03:43 PM

Thanks Roger. Prepare yourself to be unimpressed!

Peter Thanks for sharing that. It does give me some hope that mine might turn out ok too. I did rub a little water onto the surface of the sand shaded veneers and put them under pressure for awhile, but they still tended to curl a bit and the stickiness of the shelf paper had dried out to the point of losing most of it’s adhesion, which also contributed to the problem. I guess we are both paying our dues with these early projects. There is nothing more humbling than those small thin pieces of wood!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26816 posts in 4354 days

#7 posted 09-19-2014 03:45 PM

Mike, you are really progressing on that. Nice going!!.............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#8 posted 09-19-2014 03:51 PM

Hi Jim thanks, I am trying anyway. I came very close to throwing it in the rubbish several times, but after I got the back of it glued together it didn’t look bad enough to throw away (yet). After this experience I am looking forward to doing a little conventional woodworking within my comfort zone. I do have an idea for a cool frame, so maybe that will help save it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5130 days

#9 posted 09-19-2014 05:48 PM

Good for you Mike.
Looks like you are just not going to give up or have it let you down. Hang in there. What a nice set of skills to learn.

I don’t have any of this kind of artistic ability so it fascinates me when others pull it off. I can engineer with the best of them but not paint a picture or carve a figure. My first and only try with sand shading was a disaster, I guess less is best – need to remember that.

It will be neat to see the finale,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3787 days

#10 posted 09-19-2014 06:45 PM

looks like fun Mike, even if you sweat a bit

-- I never finish anyth

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#11 posted 09-19-2014 07:05 PM

Steve That’s so strange because I think your work is more creative and better done than mine, so don’t sell yourself short!

Philip No sweating so far, at least in the shop. The garden is another matter. My wife made me fertilize the lawn this week. Our lawn is in full shade 24/7 from Oct. 1st and she hopes the fertilizer will kill the moss that grows so well when the sun is absent. The only problem is that the grass is growing like crazy now due to the indian summer we are experiencing, and I now have to cut it twice a week. Normally no problem, but the rapidly diminishing sunlight means that the grass stays wet all the time now and that loads up the mower with something that resembles cow pies. I might try using my wife’s hair dryer on it. I really enjoyed that rant, I hope you did too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4413 days

#12 posted 09-19-2014 08:07 PM

OK, like to see the old engineer in you come to the fore. Really don’t have much to say in this realm…...........

.........but a question or two…..

Is the poster board a paper product or a wood product. Does it have an acid content and would that be important to the long term status of the final product? Or is that not a concern with this first go around, even if it were the case?

Just trying to sound smart…........nahhhhhhhhh…....just letting you know I am reading along from time to time…........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#13 posted 09-19-2014 10:15 PM

Jim You are smart and that’s a good question. The poster board is a paper product. I know absolutely nothing about poster board or paper products in general, but I do remember using liquid hide glue in primary school (the little bottle with the rubber applicator)and that was for paper, but please let me know if I should be expecting any problems with that combination. Other than that issue I have found the poster board extremely useful for a number of purposes which I will try to cover in my final blog in this series.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8753 posts in 4046 days

#14 posted 09-19-2014 11:41 PM

Never say die Mike. ..... :-)
What a ride.
Watching and waiting, fingers crossed.

-- 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

#15 posted 09-20-2014 07:25 AM

Glad to here Mike that there is still progress, Even with the question that everything turns out well. Maybe at the end of today there is more to see? I’m waiting strained.


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