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How to Create a Marquetry Piece

In marquetry, designs are created from different species of wood veneer to cover an entire surface. Learn marquetry techniques and how to make a beautiful piece with these step-by-step instructions.

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create a marquetry piece
  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Inscribe a Pattern

First, select a pattern. After selecting the pattern, tape it to a piece of veneer (Image 1).

To transfer the pattern onto the veneer, use a craft knife to trace the lines. Only inscribe the pattern onto the veneer in this stage (Image 2). Do not cut all the way through the veneer.

Remove the paper pattern from the veneer. Use the craft knife to follow the lines and cut out the pieces of the design.

Step 2: Inscribe a Second Piece

Place another piece of veneer behind the first piece and secure with masking tape.

Use the craft knife to inscribe the same shape out of the second piece of veneer. Stay as close as possible to the lines. (Accuracy is very important in this stage.) If the piece is not the exact shape, it won’t fit properly and will need to be cut again.

Remove the tape and pull the second piece of veneer from beneath the first.

Cut shape inscribed in the second piece of veneer. Make sure the shape fits properly into the hole you cut out of the first piece of veneer. If not, repeat the previous steps.

inscribe a second piece of veneer

Step 3: Glue the Pieces

Dilute glue slightly with water and apply around the edges of the hole cut from the first piece of veneer. Place the shape into the hole with the glued edges. Place a piece of masking tape over the shape while the glue dries.

Continue the previous steps until the entire pattern is complete. Use as many species of wood veneer as needed to create different colors in your pattern.

Step 4: Vacuum Press the Marquetry

Apply woodworker’s glue to the substrate then apply glue on the back of the finished marquetry. Place the glued side of the marquetry piece on top of the glued substrate.

Tape the piece of marquetry to the substrate with a little bit of masking tape. This will hold the pieces together while in the vacuum press.

Use a vacuum press to permanently attach the marquetry to the substrate. Put wax paper on top so the project doesn’t become glued to the vacuum bag (Image 1). A pump (Image 2) removes the air from the vacuum bag and presses the veneer flat so that you don’t have to use clamps. Leave the project in the vacuum bag for 2 hours, then remove.

Step 5: Sand and Finish

Sand the piece with 120-grit sandpaper then spray on a coat of finish to complete the project (Image 1).

To get the 3D effect of this piece, place the sections of replacement veneer in a pan filled with hot sand before cutting out the shapes (Image 2). Do not allow the veneer to touch the bottom of the pan. Place the veneer in the pan for about 5 seconds. When it is removed, there will be some shading variations on the veneer.

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