FANTASY MARQUETRY #12: Nearing the Finish Line

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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

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