By Paul Schürch
Marquetry — A technique where different veneers are cut and assembled creating a recognizable design in a single sheet or ‘skin’. Parquetry is the same technique, but using geometric shapes assembled together.
Veneer — Thin slices of wood ranging between 1/28″ to 1/40″ thickness for commercial grade veneers.
Motif — The theme or elements of the marquetry design. (i.e. a rose motif inlaid into a background veneer)
Cartoon — The motif drawn onto tracing paper, or a blueprint of the drawing.
Cartoon Backer — Veneer or paper chip board that the cartoon is glued onto with spray adhesive. Also used as a template for scroll saw cutting of the cartoon through the ‘packet’ or stack of veneer that contains all the veneers used in the final product. Also, it can be the cartoon template used for knife cutting.
Waster — Sacrificial veneer under the veneer packet that prevents tear out while scroll saw cutting.
Background — Veneer areas directly adjacent to and surrounding the motif.
Book matching — Leaves of veneer opened up like a book to create mirror images of each other.
Slip matching — Assembling leaves of veneer like dealing out a deck of cards.
Diamond matching — Cutting and assembling four leaves of veneer so the grain direction forms a diamond pattern. A reverse diamond panel has the grain direction radiating out from the center joint.
Radial or Sunburst pattern — Pie shaped pieces of veneer placed together to form a circle with a central point.
Field — Veneer used in the main areas of the furniture surrounding the background and motif.
Border — Veneer used on the outer edge of the veneered surface, or framing the motif / background / field. It is often the same wood as the solid wood trim in the furniture piece.
Banding or Filleti –Strips of veneer or complex inlay strips used between the field areas, background and borders. It accents and separates the different veneer elements, or can be used as a design by itself.
Balancing Veneer — Veneer on opposing side of the core, to prevent warping of the panel.
Fancy Face –The veneer skin containing the decorative veneerwork all taped together into a single sheet.
Show Face — The side of the veneer that will be seen on the furniture. (The gum taped side prior to gluing)
Glue Face — Backside of fancy face.
Underlayment or crossband veneers — The 2 or 3 ply veneer sandwich containing the fancy face glued together before gluing the sandwich onto the core.
Core — Plywood or MDF foundation on which the veneer and balancing veneers is glued upon.
Sand Shading — Toasting a piece of veneer along one edge in hot sand creating a three dimensional effect.
Platens — Flat surfaces such as plywood of MDF which to clamp or flatten veneer with.
Packet cutting — One scroll saw cut does both the background and motif at the same time, with the assembly fitting together like a puzzle.
- Easiest to do provided that the potential saw kerf is a non issue.
- All the grain of the same wood in motif will run the same direction.
- Creates more veneer waste.
- Repeating pattern, or contrast work possible (with one cut, you get a Light motif on a dark background, and Dark motif on a light background).
Contour cutting — Cutting out the motif from background first. Use cartoon backer or the background cutout of the motif as a template to recut motif out separately using another type of veneer.
- More difficult to do but can give potentially better results (Scroll saw kerf width added to motif template during recontour cutting to minimize blade kerf gap. (.010″)
- Allows specific wood grain orientation in the design. (Ribbons, grapes and flowers)
- Generally associated with better quality work.
- Larger production runs possible.
Knife work — Using the edge of a 40mm (1.5″) chisel or a scalpel to cut out the motif, then using the edge of the actual motif veneer as a fence or guide to scribe and cut the background veneer.
- The technique lends itself to one of a kind pieces.
- Makes very tight veneer joints (working from the glue face toward the fancy face)
- Sweeping curves and intricate work possible.
- Straight lines are cut using a Knife straight edge for edge joining and book matching panels.
- Used primarily in modern designs and border work with filleti inlay in more classical work.
- Good for ‘Free form’, ‘Cut-as-you-go’, and ‘Design layering inlay’ work.