The Process of IntarsiaBy Chris Rentmeister (goldfinch4) on November 27, 2010
|Intarsia is cutting, shaping, fitting and gluing various species of wood onto a wooden background for decorative purposes. In this article I'll show the entire process of making an angel.|
This is the angel pattern I'll be using for this project. You can see the legend on the lower right side that gives you suggested shades of wood to use. The shades are also marked on each pattern piece. The short lines on the pattern represent the grain lines of the wood.
Now it’s time to cut out the pieces. Here is the scroll saw that I use and a picture showing the size of a scroll saw blade. It's important to always use a sharp blade or it tears the wood.
OK, all the pieces are cut out and I’ve laid them together to make sure everything fits properly. If a piece doesn’t fit well it may need to be recut. Some of the pieces end up pretty tiny like the ones in the face of this angel.
Next is the shaping and sanding process. This definitely takes a while. The two pieces of equipment I use mostly for this process are the oscillating spindle sander and a belt sander. The oscillating spindle sander spins the sanding sleeve around and at the same time the sleeve moves up and down. I have six different diameters of sleeves and several different grit sizes of each. You can see more about the shaping process in my other article, The Art of Intarsia. Click this link to see the article: The Art of Intarsia
Here are a few stages of the project as I shape and sand them. I continually check the fit of each piece during this process and sometimes they need to be reshaped a bit.
After everything is cut out all the pieces are glued together. There are lots of good glues out there but right now I’m using Elmer’s stainable wood glue. Be careful not to get any glue on the fronts of the pieces since it will show up as ugly spots when you varnish it.
Front and back of the piece when glued together.
After the glue dries it’s time to make the backing. I use 1/8” fiberboard or something similar. It’s sturdy, relatively thin and doesn’t weigh a lot. Lay the project on top of the fiberboard and trace around it. Be sure to also trace the inside holes, like around the head and arms in this project. The back is cut out with a scroll saw again. When I cut it out, I cut approx. 1/8” inside all the lines so that the backing doesn’t stick out from sides when it’s glued on the project. After the back is cut out, glue it to the back of the angel. I stack catalogs on top of the project as it dries to make sure all areas of the piece are glued to the background. (Pretty technical!)
Now it’s time to finish your project. I use some type of clear spray varnish, polyurethane, enamel, etc. to finish and seal it. This one was sprayed with Valspar. This process really brings out the colors and grains of the wood. I generally apply three coats, lightly sanding between each coat for a smooth finish. Attach the hanger of your choice and you’re done!
Cutting out paper pattern, wood selection and gluing pattern on wood: 3/4 hour
Cutting pieces out of wood: 2 hours
Shaping and sanding: 4-1/2 hours
Gluing pieces together: 1/2 hour
Cutting out background and gluing angel on background: 1/4 hour
Varnishing, sanding and attaching hanger: 1/2 hour
Total: 8-1/2 hours
Add those 8-1/2 hours to the cost of the following supplies and you’ll see that there's a lot invested in each project.
Copies of pattern (I don’t include the cost of the original pattern since I usually use it many times)
Scroll saw blades (this project used 5 blades)
Sand paper, sanding belts and sanding sleeves
I charge $38.25 for this item in my store, which I think is extemely reasonable. Intarsia is a labor of love for me, not a profit center, since it would be impossible for me to make a living at this. But I really do get a lot of pleasure making intarsia items and hope you’ve enjoyed viewing the process.
Click here to view my Timber Treasures Store: Timber Treasures
|art, arts, belt sander, intarsia, sanding, saw, scroll, scroll saw, shaping, spindle sander, wood, wood art, wood craft, wood working, woodworking|
|I grew up in Wisconsin and have lived here most of my life. My hobbies are woodworking (specifically intarsia), working with hypertufa and cement, polymer clay, cooking and gardening. Whatever hobbies I'm interested in I tend to do to the extreme.|
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Comments and discussion:
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|wow!||imapigeon||Jan 3, 2011 2:53 AM||3|
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