Art Marquetry Home Page
ArtMarquetry Home Page

Ash Europe/USA A cream-colored veneer with a dark, wavy grain. Width from 8-15 inches.

Aspen (Europe) A cream to yellow veneer, good for sky effects; sometimes has a beautiful, streaky-pink grain. Width 8-14 inches.

Ayan (West Africa) A yellow to brown veneer, a bit like Satinwood. Width 8-14 inches.

Banding Long strips of geometrically patterned inlay; ready-to-use strips that come in a wide variety of styles, designs and patterns.

Baseboard The ground, base, or panel on or in which the marquetry or inlay is set. If you have a choice, best go for top-quality, white-faced multicore plywood, in which case the rule of thumb is: the larger the panel, the thicker the ply.

Beech (Europe/USA) A cream-white veneer with a delicately flecked figure. Width 8-10 inches.

Bench Hook A simple, easy-to-make hooked form used for steadying and supporting the work piece when sawing. It is made up from a base, a front edge piece, and a rest.

Birch (Canada) A creamy brown veneer with a wavy water-marked figure, Width 8-14 inches.

Birdsmouth Board Sometimes called a V-board, a small table with a V-end profile; used in conjunction with a coping, fret, or piecing saw. In use, the board is clamped to a table so that the V end projects over the edge.

Blemishes In the context of this book, a blemish is anything that detracts from the quality of the work piece. Of course, in terms of veneer grain, color, and figure, one man's blemish might be another man's perfect design feature. Choose your veneers with care.

Blister A pocket of air between the marquetry assembly and the base board; such a fault needs to be sorted out before you start rubbing down and polishing. Cut into the blister with the point of the scalpel, then squeeze a small amount of white PVA glue into the cavity and reclamp.

Boulle Boulle work, sometimes called boule or buhl, is brilliantly colored and variously composed of wood, brass, tortoiseshell and ivory. The key to boulle designs is their identical but contrasting counter-change effect.

Boxwood (Europe and S. America) A close-grained cream veneer; easy to cut and work; good for thin inlay lines and delicate motifs. Width 4-8 inches.

Brushes Marquetry and inlay workers need a good selection of brushes for touching up details, gluing, varnishing, and so on. Buy the most expensive, and keep them clean and dry.

Burbinga (West Africa) A reddish-brown veneer with dark red stripes. Width 8-14 inches.

Calipers A two-legged drawing/measuring instrument; can be used for stepping off measurements, for scribing circles, for drawing out a motif, and for measuring inside and outside diameters. All marquetry and inlay workers need a pair of calipers.

Carbon Paper Black carbon paper is used in conjunction with a hard pencil or a ball-point pen for press transferring traced designs through to veneers. Avoid permanent blue-dye carbon paper.

Caul Veneering In the context of this book, an arrangement of boards, plastic sheet, newspaper, battens and clamps, as might be used for pressing and clamping veneers and marquetry assemblies. Traditionally, veneering cauls are shaped to fit specific furniture designs and profiles.

Cedar of Lebanon (Lebanon) A rich biscuit-colored veneer with a delicate strip and a pleasant aroma. Width 8-14 inches.

Cherry (Europe and USA) A reddish veneer. Width 8-10 inches.

Chestnut (Europe) Several types--varies from white through to light brown. Horse Chestnut is often used for white banding strips. Width 6-12 inches.

Clamps (Cramps, Hold-fasts) Screw devices used for holding veneer and marquetry assemblies while they are being glued down onto the base or ground wood. They are also called G-clamps, C-clamps, strap clamps and so on. In use, the work piece is sandwiched between plastic sheet, boards, and battens and the clamps are tightened up.

Compasses A two-legged instrument used for drawing circles and arcs. Best to get a long-legged, multipurpose, screw-operated type.

Compensating Veneer A large sheet of veneer, as might be glued on the back of a marquetry composition. If the marquetry is mounted on a thin ground, say a sheet of plywood, then it requires a compensating veneer to keep the plywood sheet structurally stable and balanced. Note: Although it is recommended practice to veneer both sides of a sheet of plywood, if you are only working a small project, leave out the backing veneer.

Contact Adhesive (impact adhesive) A low-stress adhesive. In use, it is smeared thinly over both surfaces. After 15-20 minutes, the two surfaces are brought together. There are now easy-to-use, water-based varieties.

Coping Saw A fine-bladed frame saw used for fretting out thin-section ground wood and thick veneers. A good general-purpose saw for making up ground-works, boxes, frames and so on. The blade can be quickly removed and refitted, so this is the perfect saw for ground work and for working tight corners and curves. Note: Coping saw blades have pins at both ends, so they can only be used for edge cuts and large holes.

Cork Block A block used to support glass/garnet paper; used to rub down large flat surfaces.

Counter-changing The technique of sandwiching veneers, cutting through the layers, and then changing the cutouts around so as to create a color texture counter-change. See also Boulle.

Craft Knife A general-purpose knife used for cutting paper, card, thick veneers, sheet wood and string. Best to have one with a short, securely-fixed, easy-to-change blade.

Cross-banding A veneer edge strip or border where the grain runs at right angles to the edge of the object being covered.

Cutting board/mat A work surface used when knife-cutting veneers. Although you can use just about any clean, flat surface, it is best to use a semi-hard, rubber-like plastic mat. Such a surface allows the knife to bite, but leaves the surface of the board unmarked.

Designing Achieving forms, details, and motifs by visiting museums, looking around art galleries, making drawings and keeping a sketch book. We draw much of our inspiration from traditional works.

Dents A shallow dent can be remedied by dropping a small amount of water into the dent, covering it with a sheet of brown paper, and heating it with an electric iron. The wet, hot wood fibers swell and rise to fill the dent.

Drafting Paper See Tracing paper.

Drilling Holes Best to work with an easy-to-use, silent-running, hand-operated drill. In use, support the work with a waster, check the angle of the drill with a set square, and secure the wood with a clamp. Hold and steady the drill with one hand, and set it in motion with the other.

Elm (England) A brown-green veneer with a mild, stripy figure. Width 8-12 inches. Exotic In the context of this book, an exotic veneer is one that originates in another country; a veneer that has beautiful, rare or attractive qualities.

Felt-tip Pens Ordinary water- or spirit-based felt-nibbed pens. Details, edges and part-motifs can be colored with felt tips and then varnished.

Figure The pattern of the grain as seen on the surface of a veneer. Figure designs and shapes relate to the frequency of growth rings, to color, to tree types, to how the

tree is cut, and so on. Characteristic figure patterns have such names as "pencil striped," "quilted," "fiddle back," and "bees-wing."

Filler Used to fill breaks, cavities and scratches. You can use two-tube resin fillers for large cracks, wood-stopping pastes for small splits and holes, colored wax sticks for color-matching repairs on furniture, and paste grain fillers on coarse veneers, where the surface needs to be worked up to a high finish. Note: If you save sawdust in labeled bottles, it can be mixed with white PVA adhesive and used as the perfect-match filler.

Finishing The process of filling, sanding, rubbing down, staining, varnishing, waxing, framing, mounting and otherwise bringing the work to a satisfactory structural, textural, and visual conclusion.

Fit-and-Fix The act of putting together--fitting, fixing, gluing, pinning, nailing, screwing, and sticking with tape.

Fretsaw Belongs to the same family as piercing and coping saws. They have "G" frames and flexible, removable blades; a good saw for cutting holes and curves in thin section plywood and for cutting veneers. In use, the frame is guided and steadied with one hand, while the handle is pushed and maneuvered with the other. See also coping saw and piercing saw.

G-clamps or C-clamps See clamps.

Cinefilm (thermoplastic gluefilm) A paper-backed roll of thermoplastic adhesive. Such a glue is easy to use because you don't need a press and it allows you to rework a bubbled or blistered area.

Gridded Working Drawing In the context of this book, a gridded working drawing is a drawing or illustration that has been drawn on a scaled grid. If you want to change the scale, all you do is draw up a larger grid, and transfer the image one square at a time.

Groundwork See Baseboard.

Hammers In the context of this book, use either a 4-ounce ball-peen or a cross-peen hammer, and hold it toward the end of the handle.

Hand Drill See drilling.

Harewood Veneers produced by chemically treating certain other woods to create various silver green/gray/blue veneers.

Holly (USA) A white/cream colored, close-grained, easy-to-work veneer; turns light brown with age. Width 5-8 inches.

Inlay The craft of setting one wood within another.

Inspirational Designs In the context of this book, inspirational designs refer to marquetries and inlays that you have seen in museums and shops, manufacturers literature, old book, our designs, and so on.

Impact Adhesive See contact adhesive.

Iroko (West Africa) A deep yellow/brown, oily veneer with an interesting mottle. Width 8-12 inches.

Jig In the context of this book, a jig is a simple device used for multiple-cutting veneers.

Kingwood (Brazil) A deep rich brown veneer with black shading. Width 3-6 inches.

Lacewood (England) A pinkish, beautifully figured veneer with characteristic lacey rays. Width 6-10 inches.

Jewelers Saw See Piercing saw.

Lime (Europe) A creamy, white/yellow veneer with a smooth, easy-to-work grain. Width 4-12 inches.

Low-tack Tape Just about any sticky-contact masking or clear plastic tape that you might use to hold marquetry assemblies prior to gluing. We use ordinary masking tape.

Maple (Canada) A creamy-white, easy-to-work veneer. Width 6-18 inches.

Master Design The final measured working drawing; the drawing from which all the details are taken.

Matching The process of joining sheets of veneer together so as to make a larger patterned sheet. As consecutive veneer leaves are cut from the tree, they are tied in bundles of 24, 28 and 32. These veneer leaves can be variously cut, Placed and arranged to create traditional designs and patterns.

Modifying The process of changing and generally redesigning all or part of the project to suit your own needs.

Muffled Vice If a delicate, partially made workpiece needs to be held in the vice, then the jaws of the vice should be covered with a soft material like sponge, rubber, felt or old rags.

Obeche (West Africa) A smooth, yellow, inexpensive veneer, often used for wasters, backing, and compensating veneers.

Off-cuts Bits and pieces of scrap wood and veneer left over from other projects. Save these for small jobs and try-outs; store them in labeled envelopes.

PVA Glue Polyvinyl acetate adhesive; best for marquetry use because it comes in squeezy, easy-to-use containers and it is ready to use. However, waterbased PVA is not suitable for marquetries that will be left in damp conditions.

Padouk (Africa/Andaman Islands) A rich, brilliantly-colored orange/red veneer, with an open grain and a slightly oily surface. Width 6-12 inches.

Parquetry A decorative form of geometrical marquetry whereby veneers are variously cut and worked in jigs so as to create tessellating designs and motifs.

Peartree (Europe) A delicate, pink, plain-textured, easy-to-use veneer; good for small intricate details and features. Width 6-12 inches.

Pencils and Pencil-press Transferring Use a soft 2B for designing and tracing, and a hard 3H for pencil-press transferring. Trace the design with a 2B pencil, hinge-tape the tracing to the veneer, and then go over the drawn lines with a hard pencil.

Piercing Saw A small frame saw, sometimes called a jeweler's saw and very much like a coping or fret saw. The frame can be adjusted to size to use short broken-blade lengths and very fine blades.

Pins In the context of this book, pins or small nails are used to hold small pieces of veneer together. Use small brass or stainless steel pins.

Plug Cutter A drill-like tool that bores out short dowels or plugs of wood. Plug cutters are designed so the resultant plugs exactly match up with standard drill sizes.

Plywood or Multicore Ply When you are making boxes, base boards, and ground works with plywood, always use a close-grained, white, smooth-faced, best quality type that is made up from layers that are about I/16-inch thick. In use, multicore plywood can easily be cut and worked with all faces and edges being smooth and even.

Prepared Wood Wood that has been planed and cut to a standard size.

Press A press might be anything from complicated boards, battens, and G-clamp assembly to a board and a pile of bricks. Always bear in mind when you are sandwiching the workpiece prior to clamping, that the glue will ooze and spread. Therefore, only allow plastic sheet to come into contact with the workpiece.

Profiles In the context of this book, any cutout, cross-section, drawn shape, or flat fretted form.

Prototype Design A working try-out design made prior to the project. If you have doubts as to whether or not the project will work, or if you are making modifications, then it's best to make a prototype design.

Purpleheart (Central America) A beautiful medium- to dark-purple veneer The color darkens as the veneer ages. Width 6-10 inches.

Roller We recommend, when hot-iron pressing, the use of a rubber wallpaper seam roller or a small printing roller.

Rubber Mat A good sheet material to use when pressing. Slide 1/16-inch-thick rubber mat between the workpiece and the clamping boards.

Rubbing Down The process of working through the graded garnet papers from roughest to finest and sanding the wood down to a smooth finish. After using the garnet papers, rub the workpiece over with a slightly dampened cloth to remove all sanding dust.

Sand-scorching Sand-scorching or sand shading is a picture- and pattern-making technique in which veneers are toned to create shaded, three-dimensional effects. Clean, fine, silver sand is heated and veneers are dipped for about five to six seconds until the required degree of toning has been achieved.

Sapele (West Africa) A reddish-brown, easy-to-work soft veneer. It has warm toned pencil stripes. Width 8-12 inches.

Satinwood(Ceylon) A yellow-gold veneer with a mottled figure and a lustrous sheen. Width 6-12 inches.

Saws and Sawing Although we use many saw types, if you had to make do with just two saws, go for a tenon saw and a Fretsaw.

Scalpel A good quality, fine-bladed, razor-sharp scalpel and a plentiful supply of spare blades are a must. We use No. 11 surgical steel blades.

Scraper A steel blade, the edges of which are slightly rounded and then burred with a file.

Scroll Saw An electric scroll saw is one of those tools that you can easily do without, but once used, there is no going back. We use a Hegner saw.

Sealers Used to provide a base coat for the vanish or polish. They can be applied with a brush or a rag.

Set Square (try square). Used to test work for straightness or for 90" angles. Get one with a wooden stock and a metal blade.

Straight Saws A straight-bladed, fine-toothed woodworking saw. We use a gents and a tenon.

Stringer A plain, narrow strip or band of dark or light contrasting veneer, as might be inset between a picture and its border or frame.

Sycamore (England/USA) A creamy-white, easy-to-use veneer, good for ground and waster sheets. Width 6-12 inches.

Tracing Paper (drafting paper) A strong see-through paper used to transfer the master design to the workpiece.

Varnishing Area It's best to varnish or polish in an area outside the main workshop. Spend time carefully setting out your varnish and materials, and generally see to it that the area is clean, dry, and free from dust.

Veneer Thin slices of fancy-figured or exotic wood used to cover a base or ground wood. Veneers are used variously to construct, conceal, and embellish. Veneers are used in marquetry and inlay as both surface and inset decoration.

Vice A bench-mounted screw clamp used for holding and securing wood while it is being worked.

Waster A sheet of veneer on which the design is drawn out. Using the window technique, parts of the design are cut away and these are then filled in with choice woods. Progressively, areas are cut away and replaced, until the original waster sheet of veneer only forms a small part of the design, or has been replaced altogether.

Wax Wax used to finish, polish or burnish wood. We use a clear beeswax.

Window Method In the context of this book, the window method is the primary technique used for constructing and laying picture marquetry. First, the design is drawn out on a waster sheet of veneer, and selected parts of the design, or "windows" are cut away from the waster. Choice sheets of veneer are then positioned under the windows so that the color and figure are shown to best advantage. The shape of the hole is marked through to the selected veneer and cut to fit the window. Then the cutout is pressed back into the hole and fitted with a tab of masking tape.

Workbench In a marquetry and inlay context, a workbench might be anything from a table out in the garage to a woodworker's bench complete with a vice. Ideally, the surface needs to be strong, clean, stable, and not too precious.

Working Drawings (See gridded working drawing).

Working Face The best side of the workpiece; the side that shows; the important face.

Work-out Paper Rough paper on which all the pre-project notes, details, and sketches are worked out.