Introduction: Making Logos With Marquetry

As part of a larger project (a portable Raspberry PI computer) which will have a wooden case, I wanted to put a cool logo onto it, in keeping with a wooden case design! Here's what you can achieve with some wood veneer offcuts ... marquetry

Step 1: Parts List

Parts:

  • Mixed Wood veneers, e.g. search on eBay to find bundles (250g) for £2-3, look for more than a few different species of wood, all in small sizes, partial sheets. Plenty for this and other projects! Try and spot likely looking types of wood and colours for your project, but if all else fails you can dye/stain the wood.
  • Yellow inkjet ink (2-3 drops) in water.
  • Rustin's Ebony Wood Stain
  • White Colorbrite print marking pencil
  • Green Staedtler colouring pencil
  • 3M Photo mount
  • 3M Magic Scotch Tape
  • PVA Wood Glue

Tools:

  • Dremel with mounted diamond point engraver, parallel sided diamond engraver, small disc grinding wheel, medium sander drum.
  • X-Acto scalpel blade
  • Sanding blocks

Software:

Step 2: Design Logo

When I say design, I do mean steal. In the nicest possible way. The iconic "Tux" penguin by Larry Ewing is the definitive mascot of Linux, and the Raspberry Pi at its core is represented too.

The size of the penguin logo was chosen to fit within the height of the case lid, about 15cm. The inner name-badge logo (later) was sized to about 3cm x 10cm to go somewhere alongside the HD display module.

The penguin logo was composited from a downloadable Tux image, and a downloadable Raspberry PI logo. Then it was colour-reduced (posterized, with manual cleanup) in GIMP to remove shading and detail. This made a picture that formed the cutting template guides. Using an "edge-detect" tool in GIMP gives the border lines. This outline picture is then mirror-flipped and printed (multiple times) as cutting templates.

All the detail (and shading) will come back later.

Using a flatbed scanner, I scanned the veneer pieces I planned to use. I used these images to create a scale mockup of the logo in GIMP.

Step 3: Templates Onto Veneers

Not all of the colours I wanted were available. It's hard to find truly yellow and green veneers! So I selected one of the very pale veneers, and dyed it yellow. A couple of drops of JR Inkjet Refill ink in a small container of water was used to soak the veneer pieces in for a few minutes. Once they had taken up the colour, they were pressed flat between clean sheets of paper and allowed to dry overnight.

The green sections were taken from another wood, shaded with the green colouring pencil before cutting. You can see where I tested different pencils/pens for shading the green. Shade a section larger than you will need, before the cutting step.

The raspberry logo is made from three reddish wood veneers, light, medium, dark. These were left natural colours.

Staining the dark brown veneer to black was left until AFTER it was cut, as the oil/spirit based stain may stop the templates sticking.

Having printed out the templates, cut them up and stick them to the reverse (non visible) side of the veneer pieces.

Some of these pieces are quite small, so use any little scraps or damaged veneer pieces up on these. Make sure to keep track of which pieces are which!

Step 4: Rout It Out!

I used a support guide to hold the Dremel so that it would cut through the veneer and JUST nick into the backing plywood, and cut round each piece, staying outside the line. Sanding will bring the pieces back to exact size, when they are assembled.

Basic cutting was done with the diamond point engraver, freehand, and pieces test fitted on a guide copy of the picture. The dremel sander drum can be used to carefully clean up the edges by hand, go gently!

The diamond parallel sided engraver was used for the tight repeated curves around the outside of the raspberry leaf part of the logo, and the flat grinding wheel was used to put the feathering into the edges of the raspberry leaves inside.

Save any spare bits for any corrections/filling in later! For example, a couple of spare slivers of dark wood were pressed and glued into the leaves to provide stalks.

Scotch tape is very handy for keeping all the 13 small pieces in the raspberry logo in place!

Step 5: Backing

To hold the logo together, to provide the black background in the raspberry logo, and to give a little depth, a second layer of veneer was used as a backer. I selected this veneer as it was quite dark, and not so amenable to cutting -- it breaks and flakes easily. It also had some "waving" in it, so had to be damped and pressed overnight to get it flatter.

This was stained black with Rustin's ebony stain to darken it further.

Step 6: Glue Up

Starting from the centre (belly and raspberry logo, taped in place), build the logo outwards. Any final adjustment of the fit between the pieces can be done now. At this step, nothing is in direct contact, so there's little to adjust.

Apply PVA wood glue to the back of all the veneer pieces, and stick them in place. Keep them pressed flat while the glue dries to prevent any curling. Remove the Scotch tape once the glue has held all the smaller pieces down.

Step 7: Stain/shading

The parts of the "white" wood that need some shading were done next, so as not to bleed onto the yellow areas. A mask was created from the picture, with the to-be-stained areas cut out with a knife.

Additionally a hole was cut in the centre to visually line it up.

A light brush of Rustin's ebony stain on a cloth darkens the wood underneath to create "shadow". This can be sanded lightly to reduce the darkness, if it's too much.

Step 8: Next Layers

The next layer out is the yellow parts. These have also been stained slightly with Rustin's (to darken) and sanded (to lighten), but this step was freehand, comparing by eye to the original Tux picture.

Additionally, the detail on the beak was added with a dark pencil. You could use pyrography instead.

A little sanding was needed to adjust the feet and beak for a better fit, before gluing up.

The next layer is the dark brown pieces (now stained black with Rustin's).

The eye-whites then eye-pupils drop in last. The eye whites were stained at the top, again freehand, using a sheet of paper as a mask.

Highlights on the black areas, and on the raspberry logo, were added freehand with the white print marking pencil.

Step 9: Finished Penguin

Last step is to carefully trim and sand flush the backing wood, to reveal the finished logo!

Step 10: Namebadge Logo

The "PInebox" logo is constructed from two slightly contrasting veneers.

The original name badge was drawn up in GIMP. Select a font that will be fairly easy to cut around. Serifs make things difficult, as does any script-like font.

Again the image was edge detected, and flipped to create a cutting template. A mockup was created from scans of the actual veneers.

PInebox?: Because it's a PI in a box. Made of pine. Pinebox!

Step 11: Template Onto the Veneer

As above, 3M photo mount was used to attach the template to the wrong-side of the veneer.

Step 12: Cutting It Out

I used an X-Y manually driven vice to cut the straight lines, with curves filled in freehand as I went along. The veneer was stuck to a piece of plywood, and then clamped into the vice, with the dremel mounted above it. Once this is aligned along the axes of the vice, it follows straight lines and right angles easily

Cut out the centres of letters (like P,e,b,o) and keep them, These are VERY hard to sand after, so try and cut them correctly first go, before removing the rest of the letter bodies.

Remember, the actual letters are not needed, just the holes left behind. So cut on the correct side of the lines!

Again Scotch tape is used to reunite orphaned pieces into correct positions.

Step 13: Stain and Glue

The Rustin's ebony stain was used to darken the "PI" end of the backing, before gluing the front veneer in place.

Again, press the veneers flat while the glue dries to stop curling.

Remove the scotch tape after the glue is dry.

Finally trim to size around the outline, and sand smooth.

Step 14: Finished Logos

The finished logos will be inlaid and glued into 2mm deep recesses in the wooden case, once it is built!

The logo and case will be protected with Rustin's plastic coat, which will also darken the colours of the veneers a little.

Comments

author
seamster (author)2015-05-02

This is really impessive! I've never tried marquetry, but it's on my to-do list. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing this!

author
MikB (author)seamster2015-05-02

Thanks: Give it a go! At least with a jigsaw-puzzle like this, you can remake a piece if you really mess it up. And having accurate templates from GIMP makes it easier to do.

author
Thumper2198 (author)2015-05-04

Nicely done! Wish I could freehand Tux as well as you did!

author
Just4Fun Media (author)2015-05-03

Very impressive craftsmanship!
This instructable totally deserved my vote!
Good luck in the mind of design contest.

Have a great day!

author
MikB (author)Just4Fun Media2015-05-03

Thank you!

author
jsouthard3 (author)2015-05-02

Pretty solid. There is actually a way to get it all to fit better. If you can find it, there was a nice piece about marquetry on Rough Cut with Tommy Mac. It was an episode where he was making a book stand. Essentially, you cut the pieces of joined veneer at the same time so they are a perfect fit together. Hard to explain. But let's say you wanted a square in a circle. You would lay the two pieces of veneer on top of each other, cut out the square with the scroll saw table at a slight angle, and then the square will be a perfect fit inside circle because they were cut at the same time. The angle of the table makes up for the width of the blade.

author
MikB (author)jsouthard32015-05-03

I can picture what you mean -- leaning the blade by (the width of the kerf) so that the upper piece drops into the lower. I think I've seen that used for more straight-line designs. Because of the small sizes of some of the pieces, I didn't attempt this on a scroll saw, otherwise I'm fairly sure some bits would have ended up inside the saw. It was hazardous enough sanding them on the dremel afterwards :)

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Bio: Software geek, electronics enthusiast, musician, artist ... I enjoy making stuff, and discovering new things!
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