Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treasure Box Series I (Part C)

Cutting out the background, using the Classic Method is actually fun. Kind of like the homestretch run in a race. If you have done your training properly and paid attention to the basic details, the final distance in the race is an endorphin high.

We first glued newspaper to the face of the ebony veneer, so that it would hold together in the fragile areas. Then we made a packet, starting with 3mm backer board, grease paper, 4 layers of 1.5 mm ebony (paper side up) and a 1.5mm front board. On the front of the packet we glued the design, using hot protein glue. Then we taped the outside edges and nailed all the interior elements together with veneer nails.

Drilling a hole in the design, we began cutting out the pattern, following the edge of the design, going counter clockwise. That is the genius of the Classic Method. You cut all the inside elements following cutting around each in a clock wise direction. You then cut the back ground in a counter clockwise direction. By this simple change of direction, you can cut away the outside (or right side) of the line exactly each time. The result is a tight fit, without any saw kerf visible.

When the entire background is cut out, the packet is taken apart and the result is 4 identical backgrounds, ready for the pieces. To assemble the project, we have made an assembly board with Kraft paper (90gm/square meter) and set up the work table with the tray of parts, assembly board and glue pot.

Each piece of the picture is laid down into the appropriate cavity of the background, which is laid face down in hot glue on the Kraft paper. You need to be sure all the parts are well glued down, so fresh, hot glue needs to be added as the work progresses. Since all the parts are very tight fitting, it is necessary to use a special veneer knife to lever them into place. A lot of the success depends on compressing the wood elements enough to press them into place. It can be a challenge sometimes, but the results are amazing.

Since we are making 4 identical marquetry boxes, we decided to create variations in the interior fittings. The first box has sawn olive, kingwood, tulip and boxwood inside, with a secret panel for hiding treasure. I designed a brass release and lever to allow the user to open the panel. Inside this panel we put our label: "Edwards and Lejeune". The beech wood box is assembled with full blind dovetails at each corner, to prevent the joints eventually pushing up through the marquetry.

The marquetry panels are glued to the beech ground, which has been toothed properly, using Old Brown Glue. After the glue has dried, the Kraft paper is soaked with cold water, begins to dissolve, and gentle scraping removes the paper and glue from the surface. The marquetry is scraped flat and the polishing begins.

Once the hardware is cut in (lock and hinges), the box is ready to deliver. The first one is sold and we have three more.

I will post better pictures in a future post.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievably beautiful. The image of the top is gorgeous. Please post it again when you get a professional to photograph it.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I am waiting for the professional photographer to deliver the disc. I will post it as soon as it arrives.

Yes, it came out nice. Patrice did the polish. I will discuss French polish soon...

Chuck said...


As always, beautiful work and of course, masterfully executed! Sheer inexperience prompts me t ask a question or two regarding the construction of the box and the insides. Double blind dovetail construction is an eye opener, it had not occurred to me before. Is the interior wood beech? Are the interior surfaces of the sides and top counter veneered to prevent warping? it is so easy to get caught up in the marquetry that one could easily forget some fundamentals necessary to a finished product.


W. Patrick Edwards said...

I first did full blind dovetails on the jewel box, which is shown on the top of my blog. I did not want the joint to telegraph up through the surface veneer over time.

Full blind dovetails are fun. You must leave a small, 3mm or so, mitre on the edge to make the joint. Otherwise, it is a normal dovetail, except for the mitre at each end.

The box is solid beech, 15mm thick. the interior is veneered with 1.5mm sawn olive wood, and the partitions are solid olive. In fact, the box is strong enough to resist warping, even if the interior were not veneered. In the second photo you can see the box, veneered on the interior, without the outside marquetry, as I am fitting it together dry. It was then taken apart, the interior finished and the exterior veneered with the marquetry, before it was finally glued together.

I will post the finished interior shot and exterior shot soon.