We've been wanting to try our hand at intarsia for quite some time or at least a version of it. We decided to make a dragon using this process. If you're not sure what intarsia is, Wikipedia gives this explanation,
Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry. The start of the practice dates before the seventh century.
Our's is, in fact, a very generic version of this process. One thing that also makes ours non-traditional is that each individual piece of wood is stained in contrast to the typical practice of using different species of wood to make the varying tones of the piece. We would like to take you through the way we approached this process.
First and foremost, I would like to state that we made this pattern from a sketch we came up with. You can see the process of how we made the pattern in the following video.
You can also see the entire process of how we made the finished piece in this video.
Step 1: Cutting Out the Pieces of the Dragon
Each piece of the pattern is cut out and placed on a section of pine board. We used a 3/4 inch thick piece of pine board and attached the patterns to the board using a temporary spray adhesive. Loctite or Elmers works well. When placing the patterns, we did so in such a way that the grain ran in somewhat contrasting grain patterns.
We cut the pieces out using a scroll saw. These could, however, be cut out using a narrower blade on the band saw.
Step 2: Sanding and Carving
Some of the finer line details we took care of with a rotary tool (aka wannabe Dremel). This was mostly done on accent lines. It could have been done with a single line cut as well, but we chose to go this route.
There was also some sanding during this step. Mostly rounding over the front edges of every piece with 240 grit sandpaper. We would have posted images of that as well, but no one likes to sand let alone look at people sanding.
We also did a test fit to make sure we were happy with how everything fit. It wasn't perfect, but we were satisfied with it.
Step 3: Staining Each Piece
As stated in the introduction, we chose to stain the color differences rather than using different species of wood. Taking this approach we had to figure out what colors we wanted to use. For our dragon we used a few different stains. We used golden oak, cherry, english chestnut, gunstock, cherry and kona.
Step 4: Gluing the Pieces to the Board
There are probably a lot of different ways to do this; we went with what we thought was the simplest. We cut down a piece of MDF and painted it flat black. After the paint had dried we scuffed up the surface where the dragon would be sitting with some 80 grit sandpaper in hopes that it would give a better surface for glue adhesion.
We used a small bottle of super glue and applied moderate amount to each piece or to the board and held it in place for about 5-10 seconds. It seemed to do the trick pretty well.
Step 5: Finishing It Up
To protect it a little and give the wood and backer board some shine we sprayed it with 2 coats of a clear satin finish. We popped some keyhole hangers on the back and hung it on the wall.
It was a pretty fun project and was a great learning experience. If we were to do it again I think we would spend a little more time on selecting the direction of the grain. We would possibly pick some more contrasting stain colors as well.
Now that we have done one of these, we would also like to try a version that is painted and one that is done the traditional way.
If you have any comments or questions let us know in the comments section.
Don't forget you can find out about getting the pattern by visiting this link.
Thanks for checking out this project.