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Thread: How hard is Marquetry?

  1. #1

    How hard is Marquetry?

    I'm getting a tad bored and have been thinking about ways to embellish simple pieces. Earlier today, I was reading old issues of FWW and came across an article on Marquetry.

    * How hard is it to learn Marquetry? I'm not looking to make Mona Lisa's. Maybe just simple geometric designs on boxes. Is it hard to learn?
    * Does it take special tools?
    * Any books, tips or advice for a beginner?

    I'd really appreciate any experienced advice you can give me. As always, thank you folks!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  2. #2
    It's not hard. Look for the Paul Schurch video on marquetry and do the exercises and you'll have an excellent start. You do need a scroll saw. I've done some marquetry but my problem is drawing the design. I just don't have a lot of talent in that area.

    I took a course with Paul but I think I could have done almost as well with just the video. The class is a week and it's a real push.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
    Mike does great work and has shown a number of pieces here. I find all of them lovely and artful.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    It's not hard. Look for the Paul Schurch video on marquetry and do the exercises and you'll have an excellent start. You do need a scroll saw. I've done some marquetry but my problem is drawing the design. I just don't have a lot of talent in that area.

    I took a course with Paul but I think I could have done almost as well with just the video. The class is a week and it's a real push.

    Mike
    Thanks Mike!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  5. #5
    You don’t need a scroll saw, you can use a birdsmouth bench and a fret saw or a knife. I just took a class with Jim MacDonald and learned the fret saw method. Personally, I use a hand operated scroll saw I built from brake tubing, a drawer slide, and bits of bolts and nuts. If you are on the Front Range of Colorado, our guild, the Rocky Mountain Marquetry Guild, offers a free workshop where we offer instruction, a hand powered scroll saw, veneer, coffee, and doughnuts on the first and third saturday morning each month.

    if you aren’t able to make it to our workshop, there are a couple of books that can help. Silas Kopf’s “A Marquetry Odyssey” is an incredible book that delves into the history of marquetry dating back to 3000bc as well as his own pieces. There’s a bit of detail on technique as well. Craig Thibodeau “The Craft of Veneering” has a decent chapter on marquetry but is an excellent reference on veneering in general. There a book to teach both the double bevel and the window method called “Marquetry Course” by Jack Metcalfe and John Apps. And other textts, such as the by Pierre Raymond, who was probably the most influential educator in marquetry of the past half century.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike King View Post
    You don’t need a scroll saw, you can use a birdsmouth bench and a fret saw or a knife. I just took a class with Jim MacDonald and learned the fret saw method. Personally, I use a hand operated scroll saw I built from brake tubing, a drawer slide, and bits of bolts and nuts. If you are on the Front Range of Colorado, our guild, the Rocky Mountain Marquetry Guild, offers a free workshop where we offer instruction, a hand powered scroll saw, veneer, coffee, and doughnuts on the first and third saturday morning each month.

    if you aren’t able to make it to our workshop, there are a couple of books that can help. Silas Kopf’s “A Marquetry Odyssey” is an incredible book that delves into the history of marquetry dating back to 3000bc as well as his own pieces. There’s a bit of detail on technique as well. Craig Thibodeau “The Craft of Veneering” has a decent chapter on marquetry but is an excellent reference on veneering in general. There a book to teach both the double bevel and the window method called “Marquetry Course” by Jack Metcalfe and John Apps. And other textts, such as the by Pierre Raymond, who was probably the most influential educator in marquetry of the past half century.
    Thanks very much Mike, for both the invite and the references. I wish I was closer and could stop in. I will order the Metcalfe book. By chance, I recently received the Thibodeau book as a gift and haven't opened it yet. I may order the Schurch video Mike Henderson described too - I always find it beneficial to have more than one source of instruction.

    I'm curious - what is a hand operated scroll saw? I didnt see anything simple that matched what you describe when I googled it. Would you have a link or a picture? (I enjoy making tools too!)

    I appreciate your help!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    Fred, make sure to open Craig’s book. It is simply the best book out there on veneering and a great achievement. And if you can find Silas Kopf’s book, snap it up. It is incredibly inspiring even if you are not looking at the marquetry. The piece in FWW was clearly influenced by Silas.

    If you have the chance to take a class with Jim MacDonald, don’t pass it up. He was Silas Kopf’s assistant for a few years and taught with him hen Kopf was still teaching. Jim teaches periodically at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship and at Marc Adams.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Steve Latta has at least one video, which would be worth watching also.
    Tom

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    1,498
    Fred, I started trying Marquetry a couple years ago for the same reasons you mentioned. I encourage you to give it a try- great way to add some creative and colorful detail to projects.


    Tools that work for me: birds mouth, fret saw for smaller pieces and scroll saw for larger(size of marquetry pieces is limited by depth of your handsaw), small saw blades(there is nomenclature for blade size but I can't remember it-reference sources will help), magnifying glasses, move light source, carbon paper and stylus. Powered scroll saw is MUCH easier.

    I find thicker veneers easier- I like to glue inexpensive veneer at 90 degree grain angle to back of commercial show veneers to avoid splitting smaller details. Bevel sawing technique is pretty easy to learn. Biggest challenge for me is getting the sequence of which pieces to saw when correct. This matters when you have adjacent/overlapping pieces

    To get started larger pieces in simple shapes are best.

    Cheers, Mike

  10. #10
    Fred (and others interested),

    The plan we use for building a hand operated scroll saw is on a CD in a PDF file titled "Build Your Own Hand Operated Scroll Saw" by John Angus Eifler. It used to be sold by B&B Rare Woods, a supplier of veneer to some marquetarians (https://www.dyed-veneer.com/) -- I don't see it on their website any longer, but you could call Dave and ask if he still sells it. It is a simple saw to make, and requires only a bit of work. One nice thing is that you can make a large saw (mine is 30") -- the depth of the of arm is the limit on the size of the marquetry piece you can construct.

    We generally use 2/0 skip tooth scroll saw blades. Olson makes some that are just fine. I'm also using 4/0 metal cutting scroll saw blades from Switzerland, but they break easily so the 2/0 are generally better. For double bevel work, you want about a 14 degree bevel. The first rule is that you under cut whatever piece is on top. If you overcoat it, there will be a gap between the infill piece and the field.

    Certainly Wood sells a "Marquetarian Package" of veneers that is fantastic value -- $50 for 100 sq ft of veneer, and there's a lot of very interesting stuff in the pack they sent me. Shipping is a bit, but it's still value for money.

    You will need to get your pattern onto the packet you are cutting. Jim MacDonald put us onto 3m 9425 double sided tape -- it has about the perfect amount of adhesion to repeated transfer your pattern to the packet. It's much better, IMHO, than the rubber cement that I was introduced to use. It's pricey and not readily available -- about $80 for a roll. I bought mine on eBay. You can also get it from Uline, but you have to buy 2 rolls there.

    Here's a few photos of my saw.
    IMG_2287.JPGIMG_2288.JPGIMG_2289.JPGIMG_2290.JPG

  11. #11
    Thanks again everyone! I'm going to try this. I'll let you know how I do after a few practice efforts!

    Best regards!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
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    193
    Another text is The Fine Art of Marquetry by Craig Vandall Stevens. Craig teaches at the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop. I took the marquetry class last winter and really enjoyed it.

  13. #13
    Thanks Robert!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  14. #14
    Marquetry is like carving for me. I have the skills and tools to do it, but not the patience. I always marvel at people who can do that sort of thing. The end result looks so neat, but the process looks so tedious. It must be a personality fit type of thing cause it definitely doesn't fit mine.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    New England area
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    209
    Technically, geometric designs are parquetry. This is marquetry:

    https://silaskopf.com/
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 08-19-2019 at 7:44 AM.

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