I cut a portrait of a lion in veneer using my Easel - lasercutter hack. I decided to build it into a makeup compact I designed for my girlfriend, who is a Leo. The lid has a mirror built into it, and I used super strong double sided tape to fix a makeup powder box into it. This compact can hold any powder box up to about 10mm deep.
I cut this on my Chinese K40 laser cutter, which I've hacked to accept G-Code. I haven't written an Instructable about that yet but if you're interested, there's a video on my YouTube channel about it.
Check out my other Instructables for more marquetry, CNC router, and laser cutter hacks.
You will need:
- Veneer between about 0.5 to 1mm thick, in a few different shades and colours
- MDF or HDF sheet, 2mm thick
- Steel wire, about 1.5mm thick
- PVA glue
- Spray lacquer (car body lacquer is the most durable, so it's perfect for something like this which will get worn out by all the loose stuff inside a handbag)
- Cheap compact or folding mirror
- Makeup powder box, maximum 10mm deep, to fit inside this compact
- Double sided tape to stick the makeup powder box inside (hot glue would also work)
- Tools: clamps, wire cutters, file, round headed bolt, sandpaper from 40 up to 1200 grit
- Thin plastic sheet / bag - to stop glued stuff sticking to other stuff
- Masking / painter's tape
- Large rubber bands
0:42 Buy a cheap compact or folding mirror and carefully remove the mirror. Measure the outer diameter / size and adjust the hole in the lid within the SketchUp design to fit the mirror.
1:09 It's only really necessary to adjust the lid hole in the flat 'cut sheet' file.
1:21 Export the 'cut sheet' to G-Code - you can use my SketchUp to G-Code plugin: https://www.instructables.com/id/Export-Laser-Cutt... - and cut the pieces in 2mm MDF or HDF on a laser cutter.
1:52 Glue the base of the box together following the video and the SketchUp model as a guide. Careful when you glue the stacked pieces in the hinge together because they will expand when you glue them. This part will need to be firmly clamped.
3:48 Export the shapes in the 'veneer cut sheet' SketchUp file to G-Code and cut them out of a single colour of veneer. Soak the largest rectangular veneer shape in hot water until it becomes bendy, and glue it to the base of the box with PVA glue. Clamp it firmly around the curved 'hinge'.
4:48 Load the lion image into Easel and export the outline as G-Code. My Instructable about 'hacking' Easel for CNC Routers will come in useful here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Run-Easel-Gcode-o... - the process for laser cutters is similar, except you also need to use a text editor with Find/Replace to remove all the Z height commands.
6:24 Once you've cut several copies of the lion design in different veneers, plan out how you want to build up the image using bits of each colour.
6:38 Glue the lion design to the lid of the box using PVA. The veneer will start to warp all over the place but just treat it gently, and once the design is fully assembled and glued, place a thin plastic sheet over it, cover that with a flat scrap of wood, and clamp the design down firmly until the glue has dried.
(not shown in video, but see my other Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Wolf-Marquetry-Bo... - you need to fill the gaps between the veneer pieces with wood filler, that you can make yourself, then sand back this filler to make the whole design flush)
7:20 Glue the rest of the top half of the box together.
7:38 Sand excess veneer from the design, and blend the two top bits extending from the top of the design into the edges of the box - create little 'ramps' going down smoothly to the surface of the MDF.
7:44 Glue the veneer shapes for the front and sides (from the 'veneer cut sheet') to the top half of the box. Use masking tape to stop the veneer warping.
8:06 Soak the thin strips of veneer (from the 'veneer cut sheet') in hot water and glue them to the edges of the box. Glue the top ends of those strips onto the little 'ramps' you sanded on the top side of the design. Secure with rubber bands.
8:30 Once the glue has dried, you can sand off the excess of the strips and the edge pieces will blend in nicely with the veneer of the design. Hard to explain, the video shows it better!
8:43 On the front of the box, sand the veneer edge around the indent flush with the edge of the MDF.
8:50 Cut 25mm 'pins' from steel wire. Hammer them through the holes in the top half and bottom half of the box, creating a hinge. File the ends of the pins flat and hammer them flush with the wood using the head of a dome-headed bolt to save the veneer from hammer marks.
9:10 Glue the mirror into the inside of the box lid. Keep a damp cloth handy to wipe stray glue off the mirror.
9:14 Mask the edges of the box base to protect them from lacquer, and hang the box from a wire. Hang the box in a well ventilated space.
9:27 Lacquer! Follow the directions on your can of lacquer, but I find that 3 coats of car body lacquer works well.
9:37 Once the lacquer has dried (usually takes at least 24 hours) fix the makeup powder container inside the MDF box. Double sided tape is good, but hot glue will also do the trick. To save space, I prised out the inner aluminium tray holding the powder, and just taped that in. But this box will hold makeup containers up to about 10mm deep. The box will also hold a makeup applicator sponge, etc.
That's it! Hope someone finds this useful. If you make one of these, let me know!