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Custom Lasercut Marquetry Boxes

The more I worked with wood, the more I was drawn to exotic species and their various grain patterns. The easiest and least expensive way to work with these woods was to purchase them as thin sheets of veneer. Applying veneer to the outside of a box naturally leads to the desire to add some patterns with different woods. This turns into a full blown interest in marquetry, parquetry, kumiko, and inlaying. One of the main challenges in working with thin sheets of wood is that cutting it into small shapes takes a sharp blade and lots of skill. The alternative is to use a laser cutter.

A laser cutter allows you to cut intricate shapes without applying significant forces to the wood. It also produces incredibly repeatable results, perfect for parquetry patterns. My first design was an organic experiment that wanted to see how far I could push the application of the technology to a technique that is considered a fine art.

The small individual pieces were bonded together with a thin application of cyanoacrylate and then pressed onto a custom plywood jewelry box with wood glue. The wood is a mixture of walnut, maple, sycamore, and purpleheart.

The box was finished with about 10 layers of shellac applied with a small cotton pad. The inside of the box was lined with black velvet and it was immediately put to use holding jewelry.

Another example of this technique with a slightly simpler pattern is a small box made to hold a hand-forged spoon. This was a fun collaboration with one of my extremely talented friends from Canada. The interior of the box is zebrawood, then end blocks are recycled cherry, and the pattern is made with curly maple and black walnut. The pattern was inspired by Japanese Kumiko designs.

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