View Full Version : Laser Marquetry/Marquetry Assembly

Sean Sarmast
06-06-2006, 3:01 PM
Hello All,

I'm a fairly infrequent poster to this site but a voracious reader. The expertise on this site has helped me in my more traditional woodworking hobby many times.

My question relates to laser marquetry, but likely more towards the assembly of marquetry image (that happened to be cut with a laser, a Epilog Mini 18).

On pieces with a small number of parts I've had great success. I use the Corel contour tool cut out a piece and it's negative (say a circle and a larger piece with hole cut into it). I cut the piece upside down in the laser for kerf management. Then, I'll lay out a bunch of blue tape and assemble the pieces with upside on the tape. Using contact cement I can get just about invisible cut lines.

Naturally, if it worked on small 2,3 or 4 piece image it should work on 100 piece images right? Crawl then run a marathon. Well, my assembly method gets a little iffy when I have to assemble larger or larger in number images.
I have problems keeping the bottom/top/middle (depending on how I start to assemble) lined up. I'll have narrow/invisible kerfs on one part of the image and large gaping holes (maybe 0.010" or larger) between pieces in another part.

I had an idea a while back to try PVA glue for assembly as it has the tendency to expand the wood and therefore might hide the misalignments. I've been unable to develop an assembly method using such glue that keeps the pieces from shifting. My tape method just leaves lots of room for the glue to sneak up and adhere to the tape and I don't have enough open time to assemble while wet.

The books I've read on traditional marquetry (I've never done it) seem to focus on the double-bevel method which I'm not sure applies to cutting out the pieces like a puzzle.

Would anyone mind sharing their techniques? I've seen some beautiful images that have been attributed to laser marquetry so I know it's possible with the right skills.

Thanks to all for the knowledge already contained on this site.

Lee DeRaud
06-06-2006, 3:32 PM
Haven't done much of this lately, so I'm just throwing out an idea here...

How about assembling the whole thing face-down on low/medium-tack transfer paper and then applying glue to the (exposed) back? A variant of that might be to laminate a thin substrate (like 1/64" plywood) to the back after assembly, maybe with spray adhesive or contact cement, then you can glue the whole thing to its final substrate however you want to.

You'll probably end up with some glue on the "face" side regardless of how you do it, so I'd resign myself to some light scraping/sanding afterwards anyway.

There's the additional issue of which pieces to contour (and how much and which way) on a complicated piece. My temptation would be to outside-contour every piece half the "kerf" width rather than trying to distinguish between "holes" and "plugs" like you would with a smaller assembly.

Joe Pelonio
06-06-2006, 5:42 PM
If you do a lot of this, my neighbor cabinetmaker has his contact cement in a pressurized tank, looks like a BBQ/RV propane tank. Also he says it's not highly flammable and toxic like the canned variety. Anyway, when he sprays there's none of the running into the cracks like when you roll it on.

http://www.custompak.com/Adhesives/Ready%20grip%2025N%20NO%2024N%20final%20combined%2 0brochure.pdf

Brent Brod
06-06-2006, 8:27 PM
I was doing something similar with thicker pieces and I found it easier to assemble if I cut out a template the same thickness and shape as the perimeter and then assembled the piece inside that. It kept the pieces from squishing out in different directions and kept the whole thing where it was supposed to be.

Jeff Lehman
06-07-2006, 1:29 PM
My "normal" job is working for a company that does very complicated marquetry (we call them sketch faces). The beveled kerf created by the laser is a issue with gluing and open joints can be amplified when the face is sanded, which tends to open/expose the beveled kerf even more.

One method we use is cutting two adjoining pieces from opposite sides. This creates a beveled kerf which you can use to your advantage once the two faces are actually assembled since the bevels tend to complement each other.

On complicated (many pieces) faces, a fit check is done with an inexpensive species of wood to ensure the fit is correct. Then a low tack tape is used to loosely hold the face components in place before veneer tape is applied. We don't have the "oozing" glue issue since we use a tego sheet glue which is heat activated in a press.


Sean Sarmast
06-08-2006, 2:45 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions, I am going to give them a try here shortly!