Marquetry Tools

Marquetry Tools image by Just chaos:


Marquetry is a type of decorative woodworking. A design is created using pieces of wood veneer--also natural shell, bone and metal--cut and fit together much like a mosaic made from tile. The design is then overlaid on top of a substrate, like a floor, table or chest. Power tools such as band saws and scroll saws can be useful but are not necessary for small or beginner projects.


The very first tool or supply you will need for marquetry is the pattern or design. This is an outline drawing of the image that will be created. It indicates which veneer should go where and in which direction the grain should face, a sort of paint-by-numbers for wood. The pattern will likely also come with pictures of completed pieces if you bought a kit. Carbon paper and a hard pencil are used to transfer the outlines of the pattern pieces to the veneers.


A craft knife with a thin, strong blade will work for cutting the sheets of veneer. Sharpening stones can be used when blades get dull, but it is less time-consuming to buy a box of blades and just replace them when they are no longer sharp enough. Use a cutting board so you don't scar your tables, countertops or floors. Smooth plywood is a good surface, as are self-healing mats often used in quilting and fabric cutting.


Once the pieces are cut out, use basic clear adhesive tape to hold them together while you form the pattern. Beginner projects and those meant to be hung on the wall are mounted onto a flat board rather than an object like a chest of drawers. Particle board is an excellent substrate because it is smooth and lightweight. If you have purchased a kit and were supplied with a thin mounting board, you may want to veneer both sides to prevent warping in the future. Use contact cement as the adhesive to mount the veneer to the particle board; it does not require clamps and can be spread on with a putty knife. A small roller will ensure that all parts of the veneer design are in contact with the board.


Finishing marquetry is like finishing any fine woodworking project. You will need sandpaper of various grits, a lint-free dust rag, a foam brush and the varnish of your choice. You should not need much of any of these supplies unless you're doing a very large project. The sandpaper is to smooth away any imperfections in the veneer as well as make it easier for each subsequent layer of varnish to adhere well. The lint-free cloth is to wipe down the project after sanding and before the next layer of varnish is applied. The foam brush is for applying the varnish that will give the entire piece a clean, glossy finish.


Once you have advanced beyond the basics you may want to purchase some additional tools. These include a band saw, scroll saw, rotary palm sander and buffing pad for an electric drill. These streamline the process of cutting out many identical pieces or finishing a big project. Veneer pieces can be shaded with a hot plate, fine sand, tweezers and a sauce pan. The sand is heated and when wood pieces are dipped into it, they get scorched a darker color.

Keywords: woodworking, marquetry, veneer inlay

About this Author

K. D. Wicks is a communications professional with experience in writing, editing and design in academia, marketing, and print and digital media. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications, encompassing public relations, journalism, advertising and speech.

Photo by: Just chaos:

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