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Double Bevel Marquetry…a Tulip of Various Woods

One of the beautiful aspects of woodworking is that there are so many facets to the craft. Marquetry is one of these woodworking crafts that requires just  basic woodworking tools and is well with the reach for all of us. For this woodworking project we will learn how to make a tulip using double bevel marquetry techniques. The primary shop tools used for this wood project are the scroll saw, table saw, and the band saw. The hardwoods selected for this project came from a number of wood species that were in the scrap bin. Selected woods for this woodworking project  include hickory, maple, padauk, and poplar.

Our woodworking plan starts with choosing a design for the marquetry. In this instance the tulip design for this woodworking project was derived from a picture of a tulip that was located on the internet and then printed. The wood veneers used in the marquetry are 3/32″ thick and they were sliced on the band saw. A veneer of hickory was chosen as the background due to its warm colors and also because of  its interesting grain pattern. The hickory veneer was then lightly sprayed with an adhesive and the printed tulip picture was then pressed onto it. The picture of the tulip  becomes an outline for making the appropriate cuts on the scroll saw with its table set to six degrees.  One might wonder “why is the scroll saw table is set at an angle of six degrees?”  The reason is because we will be cutting through a taped packet consisting of two layers of veneer at one time and the angle will compensate for the saw kerf of the scroll saw blade. Note: 1.) Select a thin, fine scroll saw blade. 2.) Select a drill bit that is equal to the scroll saw blade.  3.) Use masking or blue tape to secure the packet of veneer layers to be cut. 4.) Drill an entry hole at a 6 degree angle to feed the scroll saw blade through the veneer packet.

So, what happens to the two layers of veneer being cut? Good question! One layer (hickory…the background veneer) becomes waste and the new veneer layer is then nestled into the angled cut of the hickory background piece. Remember, both veneers are being cut at the six degree angle at the same time so the infill piece will fit right into the area just removed. Once we have a good fit it is then time to apply a small amount of glue to the mating parts. We’ll use yellow glue and then apply dampened veneer tape on the back side opposite the picture to secure the placement of the new inlay. Give it a little time to set up and then we are ready to cut another section following the glued  picture of the tulip as our guide. Be selective of the choice of woods in order to “paint your picture.” The wood colors and grains will all contribute to the finished product.

As we go about the process of cutting, fitting, and gluing parts in place at the workbench you may wonder how it will look when completed because at this stage it can appear “rough.” There’s still paper on the surface and glue as well.  Don’t worry and just keep pushing through because it will all clean up. Once all the parts are in place and the glue has set it’s time add a backer veneer to stabilize the woods of the face veneer. Simply select a veneer similar in wood density to the face veneer and cut to size. Then just glue the two veneers together. When the glue sets you’ll want to clean the clean the edges and make rectangular in preparation for the picture frame.

Next it’s time to prepare for the finish. Use a freshly sharpened card scraper to smooth the surface as it will give you a nicely planed surface. Sure, sandpaper can be used, however use caution as some exotic woods can bleed into other woods when sanding.

When the marquetry and the scraping is completed it’s time to frame the project just as you would a picture frame. It’s is a good idea to employ a sanding sealer to seal the surface of the veneers. Again use caution while wiping on the sealer to avoid any bleeding if using exotic woods. Then it’s a matter of choosing the wood finish.

Keep in mind that marquetry can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, a woodworker may employ marquetry in furniture pieces like as a desk or table top. Perhaps you’ve even seen marquetry applied to the face of cabinet doors. Let your imagination guide you along the way for your own woodworking projects and you’ll discover that it’s a great way to enjoy your time in the woodworking shop.

So, if you would like to get started in double bevel marquetry simply cut a few veneers and just practice on them for a while. Get the feel of cutting on an angle at the scroll saw. Remember, it’s normal to break a few blades and have some mistakes in the beginning. Accept that and move forward. Before long you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll be creating with confidence. Enjoy the process of double bevel marquetry!

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