Friday, August 9, 2013

Assembly Board Videos

Lately we have been encouraged to make more videos, and YouTube provides the perfect venue for others to see what we do and how we do it.  We are working on a series of videos which will explain the different methods for making marquetry, according to Dr. Pierre Ramond.  Those will follow as we get the time to put them together.

However, as we are building the second series of Treasure Boxes, we thought it would be nice to show how a picture is put together on an assembly board, according to the traditional French process.

I have posted previously about this method, and it is important to note that the idea of building marquetry face down in hot glue on stretched Kraft paper is something developed by the French and not usually done in other countries.  In fact, the type of Kraft paper used is not even available in America, and I have searched for it.  We import rolls of it from a company in France, and the shipping costs exceed the cost of the paper.  (Last shipment arrived by air freight, and the "friendly" customs inspector drove his fork lift over the shipment and thought that was funny.)

Anyway, the French Kraft paper is shiny on one side and dull on the other.  The shiny side resists moisture and is the side we glue to, and the dull side absorbs moisture, and is the side we apply water to to remove the paper from the marquetry when we are finished.  By applying moisture to the shiny side and allowing it to soak in for several minutes the paper expands.  Then when we wrap it around a board and glue it to the edges, it shrinks tight.  That is an assembly board.

A more exhaustive explanation of how to build an assembly board is found on this blog by searching earlier posts.  Use the search word "assembly board."

Patrice finished cutting all the pieces for the marquetry panel using the Classic Method ("piece by piece"), and we set up the camera to film the incrustation of the elements.  Each picture took about a half hour to assemble, working normally, and we speeded up the video so it takes half that time to see what goes on.

Hot hide glue is spread on the paper and the background is laid face down on the board.  Each piece is then picked up, flipped left to right and placed into its appropriate cavity.  We use a special marquetry knife to install the pieces.  It is a soft steel, so we can pry with the point without breaking the tip.

When all the pieces are in place, we clamp it under a piece of plexiglass and start over.  It is fast and easy.  Note we are using sawn veneers, which are quite thick, and you can easily hear the "click" as they plug into place.

As soon as we posted this to YouTube, we noticed that our friend, Paul Miller, had made a similar video last month.  The difference is that he is using sliced veneers, which are much thinner, and he has applied paper to the veneers before cutting them to strengthen them.  After he installs the pieces on the board, he must then carefully remove the paper with a slight amount of water and scraping to clean off the surface.

In either case, once the picture is done, we mix hot glue, hot water and fine sawdust to make a mastic.  That mastic is applied to the entire surface, which fills any gaps and holds the parts together.  Only then can the picture be cut away from the assembly board and applied to the final project.

Hope you enjoy this.  Patrice's video is HERE

Paul Miller's video is HERE


Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving all this knowledge freely.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

Once when I was at a national woodworking show many years ago, I enjoyed a display of various pieces of furniture which were shown, both antique style and modern. I spotted a particular piece which had crotch mahogany veneer over a curved surface. The veneer was blistered and cracked and I knew immediately what had gone wrong, as I had made the same mistake when I started veneering furniture in 1969.

Later, at the show, the person who had made this piece approached me and asked me my opinion of his work. I remarked at the problems with the veneer, and, to my surprise, he replied that that was his goal, "to show it was antique". Then I asked him how he had achieved such an effect. "It's a secret!" he exclaimed, proudly.

I answered, with some sarcasm, "It's no secret. You used contact cement." To which, he responded, rather surprised, "How did you know that?"

I hate "secrets." Hate them with a vengeance. Don't want to hear them; can't keep them; they serve no purpose, except to perpetuate ignorance.

I was trained as a scientist. I spent many years working on the front lines of high energy particle physics. I participated in many, many open discussions among a wide variety of scientific egos and observed that the best science was done when accumulated research was shared.

We all have egos, sure. We all want to be recognized. But our individual importance is only realized if we contribute fully to the advancement of the human experience.

That is why I must return the knowledge I have collected over the years to others so that they can push on. The human race is a relay race.

Olek said...

Hello , I am not used to do such fine marquetry work but need to replace spots and pieces on piano cases. Indeed the veeners where cut and not sliced on good quality instruments.

The thin sliced veener do not catch the light as nicely and need to be reinforced to be cut.
I use ready made glue GT58, as I am unsure of the preferred mix to glue marquetry . Any tip ? are the supports heated before gluing ?


Isaac OLEG

W. Patrick Edwards said...

A good tip for making a repair for a missing piece is to use thermal Fax paper. Thermal fax paper is no longer popular as most Fax machines do not need it. However, I have a good supply.

Take the Fax paper and place it over the cavity where the piece is missing. Then burnish the paper with a hard smooth piece of metal, like a spoon.

The paper will leave a perfect outline of the cavity. Glue this pattern to the repair wood and cut out the piece, cutting inside the line. The repair will fit perfectly.

As to glue, I always use protein glues, either hot glue or Old Brown Glue.