Introduction: Laser Marquetry and Inlays - See It Before Cut It?

About: I am the developer of ImagePaint software for designing and making marquetry and inlay products.

I started doing marquetry in 2008. I did create about a dozen pieces, but ended up throwing them all away. Now, I wish I didn't, because I can't share the failures with you now. Must make mistakes before making progress right?

Marquetry and inlays was difficult, for me, not because of the cutting techniques, because I used a laser to cut the veneers. The difficulties were finding the right wood species to use, where to cut the shapes on a piece of wood veneer to achieve 3D effects (shadows, highlights etc.), what wood colors work for a design.

It took me awhile, I regret, to finally found the answers to my problems. I realized that I must see the whole design applied with different wood species. I must able to change the location of a shape on a piece of veneer and see immediately how the design would look. So, I started to scan all my wood veneers into my computer and with Adobe Illustrator manually applied the scanned images to each shape to see how it looks in the design as a whole.

At this point, my marquetry design begins to get better and better. In 2009, I decided to write a pieces of software that would plugin to Adobe Illustrator to automate the design tasks of applying the wood images to shapes.

Finally, in early 2015 the software I developed called ImagePaint was completed and announced at the AWFS woodworking show in Las Vegas (July 2015). And what a show it was! To my surprise, ImagePaint got selected into the AWFS Visionary Award finalist.

We did not win, but we were so happy and appreciative of being a finalist, the four of us.

The team's hard work finally got noticed. We had to skip lunch couple of time because so many visitors came to our booth. This 5 minute video is the one we played over and over again at the show. I hope you like it too.

If you love this rare and unique wood art as much as I do, I think you will find this movie helpful when you are ready to tackle your next marquetry or wood inlay project. You don't really need a laser if you can't afford one, because it is not hard to cut the veneers by hand using a knife or a scrollsaw, slow but not difficult. The difficulty is in the design, but software can help.

I always admire people who use the "Double Bevel" cutting technique with a scroll saw. I plan to take a class doing marquetry with this "Double Bevel" technique. Unfortunately, there is no video to clearly show you how to do it!