In this Instructable I want to share my process for making marquetry artwork with my laser cutter. It is based on a lasercut box I designed here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Lasercut-Hexagonal... and I'll show you how I covered the entire box in veneer, as well. I've attached my wolf veneer template to this Instructable (which I created using a CC0 Public Domain licensed image from Pixabay). Unfortunately I don't have any footage of how I went about turning a photo into a black and white veneer template, but if you're interested you can look at my other lasercut marquetry Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Lasercut-DeepDream... which shows how I converted another image into a veneer template.
I didn't share my G-code because everyone's laser cutter will want a different flavour of G-code, and I won't be responsible for the consequences of running unsuitable G-code on a lasercutter :)
You will need:
- Lasercut hexagonal box made from HDF - from my other Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Lasercut-Hexagonal...
- Veneer sheets - at least 3 different types, ideally of 3 contrasting tones
- Spray lacquer (I used car body lacquer)
- Lasercutter (sorry, essential!)
- PVA glue
- Sandpaper: 40, 60, 120, 320, and 1200 grit
- Easel (ie internet access, so you can go to easel.inventables.com
- Small heavy objects, to weigh down the veneer as the glue dries
- Plastic sheet
- Flat scrap wood
- Clamps and rubber bands
0:18 Go to easel.inventables.com and import the wolf veneer template. Adjust the smoothing to 0.9 and tick Image Trace then Import. On the Shape tab, click the little padlock next to the shape dimensions (so it shows 'locked'), then scale the width of the imported shape to 106mm. Set the cut depth very low so you just get one pass over each path in the G-code. Set the tool width to the rough width of the line your laser cuts in veneer - worth experimenting to find that out.
0:39 Click Machine->Advanced->Generate g-code, then Export g-code. Open the g-code in a text editor and remove all the F commands, Z movement lines, and then paste in a header and footer from a g-code file that you know runs on your laser cutter - see my Instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Run-Easel-Gcode-on... for more details.
1:21 Lasercut the wolf g-code pattern in at least 3 different veneers. If you rest the sheet you're cutting on another scrap sheet of veneer, it's a lot easier to keep all the tiny bits of cut veneer together.
2:31 Spread PVA glue evenly on the top of the box and glue down the largest piece of veneer with the hexagonal border. As the glue soaks into the veneer it may warp, so you'll have to weigh it down in places with some small heavy objects.
Glue pieces of veneer from each of your three types into the gaps in the largest one, to build up the image of the wolf.
4:57 Once you've glued in as many bits into the design as you patience allows.. spread PVA glue onto the entire design, rub it in, and ru off the excess. This will strengthen the marquetry.
5:12 Before leaving it to dry overnight, cover the wolf image with a clean plastic sheet, place a flat scrap of wood on top of that, then weigh it down. That should make sure the veneer will dry flat.
5:35 Make wood dust from scraps of veneer of the same colour as the one you'll cover the box in. I use a pillar drill with a sanding attachment, and a tray to catch the dust.
6:00 Once the wolf image has dried, mix some of the wood dust with PVA glue to form a stiff paste, and smear it into all the gaps between the veneer pieces.
6:12 Open the SketchUp file of flat pieces from my Instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Lasercut-Hexagonal... - export the veneer templates for the sides and base of the box into g-code (I have a plugin for that here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Export-Laser-Cutte... ) and cut 6 copies of the side pieces, and one hexagon for the base.
6:52 Glue those veneer pieces to the sides and base of the box. You'll probably need to clamp or weigh down the box to stop them warping. Glue the pairs of side pieces to the lid and base of the box in order, so that the grain matches on each side.
Wait for the glue to dry.
7:41 I deliberately made the hexagonal veneer on the lid and base a bit larger than necessary, so they can be sanded flush with the sides. Sand those flush now. Also sand the vertical edges of the box flush.
8:05 Mix more wood dust and glue and use this to fill all the tiny gaps between the veneered sides of the box.
Wait for that to dry..
8:12 You need to sand all the wood filler and veneers into a smooth flat surface. Start sanding with 40 grit sandpaper, then work through 60, 120, 320 and 1200 grits. This will take a long time but is the most important step to get a great looking marquetry image.
9:27 Mask off the lip of the box so it doesn't get fouled by lacquer, then spray the box with lacquer. At least 2 coats will probably be necessary. Follow the instructions on your lacquer..
Wait for the lacquer to dry, take off the masking tape, and that's it!