About: In my shop I have a name for hammer, saw, and plier. The saw is Tess, the hammer's Joe, and Glumdalclitch is the plier. Yes, I'm brillig, and my slithy toves still gyre and gimble in the wabe. With that, le…

Intarsia: A mosaic usually of wood. The art of making such a mosaic.

This is my first attempt at intarsia. Join me on my journey to see what I learn, where I go wrong, how I correct my errant ways following sound advice from my alter ego.


I received a box of hardwood cutoffs for father's day from my son. I have no idea what the names of these woods are. I selected woods of varying colors that seemed to go nicely together. I also used weed whacker line and one hardwood button plug. As for glue, I used CA super glue and wood glue. For a finish, I used Tung Oil.

Step 2: TOOLS

Two new tools for the Little Shop of Jarfold: a jig saw and a bench sander. Aside from hand sanding, these were the two tools I used to make my Intarsia Butterfly. The other things I found very important were the magnifying glasses (at my age definitely needed), and the dust mask. The jig saw does kick up its fair share of sawdust. The wood burning tool was used to bend the weed whacker line.


In selecting an image from which to make my first intarsia I browsed the internet and selected this butterfly, even though it is a design used for stained glass work. Since I'd never used a jigsaw before I watched How To videos, printed out practice sheets, glued them to wood and practiced until I felt confident enough to jump in. I then printed lots of copies of the butterfly and cut out the separate areas I'd be cutting.


From the printed copies of the butterfly picture I cut out individual images segments and tried to find a nice color wood from which to cut the piece. I used a stick glue like they do in school to glue the images onto the wood. I had to let it dry before cutting or else the paper just popped up. I also tried spray glue. That seemed to work faster. After cutting out the individual segments I sanded and contoured their edges.

I posted a lot of pictures here so you could follow my progress. Some of the smaller pieces were lost and redone. (That new bench sander is aggressively powerful and if not careful can shoot a piece into the next dimension if you don't hold on to it tightly) The weed whacker line was used as antennae and legs for the butterfly. I heated the leg joints (using a wood burning tool) so I could bend them. The eye was a button plug and added as an after thought. The poor little girl looked as if she needed one.


NOTES TO KINK FROM YOUR ALTER EGO. Kink, take your time. Clean up glue as you move from stage to stage. I know you were very disappointed in how this was turning out and just globed on wood glue at the end, but don't get discourage. I know you were about to trash-can this butterfly. Don't. Walk away. Give it a day. Then come back to it. As Commander Taggart said: Never give up. Never surrender. And Bob Ross said: You don't make mistakes, you have happy accidents. It'll all work out. Now take a deep breath, get a cup of coffee or your favorite Earl Grey Tea, and come back to it tomorrow.



Thanks to the level headedness of my alter ego I walked away and calmed down. When I returned I sanded down the butterfly, even used a utility knife to get the extra glue off her wings. I took my time. When I was happy, I found a piece of poplar, cut 45s in each corner, routed a round-over on the edges and Tung-oiled it. I used the same oil on the butterfly and glued it on the plaque.

I can only get better at intarsia. As frustrated as I got at how she was turning out I'm glad I didn't give up. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. Comments are always welcome and questions are always answered.


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