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Fretwork and marquetry, D. Denning

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CHAPTER XII. Working in Metals and Xylonite.
 ALTHOUGH the general principles on which brass and other metals as well as other hard substances, such as mother-of-pearl, are cut are precisely the same as those for wood and the ordinary soft materials, there are several additional points which must be observed in order that the work may be accomplished with comparative ease. Without such precautions it would be almost a hopeless task to attempt metal cutting, for the smallest trial will convince anyone that the treatment must be modified. Articles are seldom made entirely of fret brass or metal, but such things as hinge plates, escutcheon plates, and overlaid parts, may often be constructed by the fretcutter.
That comparatively thick metal may be cut with the saw is not to be denied, but it will easily be understood that the thicker it is the greater the difficulty in working it, and for all practical purposes it may be considered that metal of the thickness of that of a shilling is the maximum. In most cases considerably less will suffice, and the sawyer may be advised to use it as thin as he can. For metal cutting we, as a rule, prefer the hand frame to the machine, but when this is used the speed at which it is worked must not be great. It is, however, almost impossible to give precise directions as to this, for " circumstances alter cases," and occasionally it may be quite practicable to run the saw at a fair rate of speed.
Perhaps the easiest way in which thin metal can be worked is by fastening it between two pieces of soft wood, such as pine. This offers little resistance to the saw, but keeps the metal from bending, as otherwise it is certain to do, to the annoyance of the worker and the destruction of the blades. The wood and metal

 

WORKING IN METALS AND XYLONITE.     101
are to be kept in contact by nailing through the waste pieces of the design, which is of course drawn on the upper piece of wood. As the saws, when metal is being cut, require frequent lubri­cation, the best way to provide for this being done is to insert well greased paper between the brass and the wood. Two sheets, one on each side of the brass, may be used. If more than one piece of metal is being cut at a time, a piece of greasy paper should be between each of them. Of course the alternative, and it is a clumsy one, of greasing the blade as the work proceeds may be adopted if preferred, and is the only one which is practicable when one sheet of metal is being sawn without wood.
As the principal object of the wood is to keep thin metal from bending or springing under the action of the saw, it follows that when the metal is of sufficient thickness to be rigid no wood need be used. Automatic lubrication may then occasionally be man­aged by the substitution of a sheet of thin greased cardboard for the wood and paper, but we cannot say that we altogether approve of this plan, though it is sometimes practised. As the worker will probably soon find out if he tries it, there are several ob­jections to it, and if any temporary backing is used with the metal, wood in almost every instance is to be preferred to any­thing else.
When the metal is sufficiently thick to be cut alone, a difficulty may occur in transferring the design to it, for it may be concluded that the novice will not care to scratch or engrave the outlines of the design on it. The simplest way is to stick paper on the metal and then trace by means of carbon paper, as suggested in a former chapter ; or, of course, if preferred, the design, either the original or traced, may be stuck down. The adhesion with either glue or paste may not be perfect, but with ordinary care it will be sufficiently good to enable the cutting to be done. The design may also be transferred direct to the metal by means of carbon paper. If the surface is rough no preparation may be necessary, but when the lines cannot be got otherwise there will be no difficulty if the following plan is pursued. Coat the metal with turpentine and wait till it has dried on. There will then be a good surface for the design to take on. When this has been accomplished no further directions as to cutting will be required, but the edges will probably need some attention from the file afterwards in order to get them as smooth as they should be. After the brass or other metal has been finished as well as it can be, it may be either silver or nickel-plated at a small cost. If it

 

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is to be left in its natural colour it may be protected from tarnishing by coating it "with lacquer. This is to be obtained ready made from any oil and colourman, but one sufficiently good for the purpose may be made by using ordinary French polish, which, as is no doubt well known, is a solution of shellac in methylated spirit, made thicker by the addition of more shellac. To use either this, or indeed any lacquer, the metal should be polished as brightly as possible and must be free from every trace of grease. The metal should then be warmed and the lacquer painted on with a soft brush with a quick motion, care being taken to avoid going over the same part twice. If after all the lacquer should be lumpy or ridgy, it may be removed either by washing with spirit or with strong soda and water and the process be repeated de novo.
Metal mountings may either be fastened to their supports with nails or cement. In many cases the appearance of the former would render them objectionable, though occasionally by the use of nails with suitable heads they may be made an additional means of improving the appearance of the article to which they are added. When an adhesive has to be used glue can hardly be considered a suitable one, though we have sometimes found that Le Page's liquid glue does well enough, especially in conjunction with a few small nails or wires, which can be filed off level with the surface. A better and more reliable means of adhesion is shellac cement. This is sold at many tool shops in the form of small sticks and is used very much as sealing wax, to which it is akin. In order to prevent it hardening quicker than is desirable the metal to which it is applied should be warmed, but in spite of this precaution the adhesion may not be perfect. If there is any defect in this respect a remedy may often be found in the application of a warmed flat-iron to the metal, with which it should be left in contact-till cold. Care must, however, be taken that the iron is not so hot as to melt the shellac to such an extent that it is all pressed out from between the parts it is intended to connect. A liquid shellac cement is of easier application, especially when comparatively large surfaces have to be stuck together, as it is used much in the same way as glue. It may easily be made at home, as it is nothing but a strong solution of shellac in methylated spirit. No special remark is necessary about its application.
While on the topic of cements other than glue or paste, it may be well to direct attention to the peculiar treatment necessary

 

WORKING IN METALS AND XYLONITE.       103
when pieces of xylonite are to be fastened together or to wood. Glue alone will not do, as it does not adhere when cold to this material, from which it flakes off. The best cement we have used for the purpose is that prepared and used by the manufacturers of xylonite for making up their own articles. It is not usually an article of sale, but can be obtained from the manufacturers in liquid form, either transparent or opaque white. For general purposes we prefer the former, but whichever is used the treat­ment is the same. If the two pieces to be joined are both xylonite, they should be brushed with the cement, which appears to some extent to act as a solvent, and then brought into close contact and forcibly kept together till the cement has hardened, which will not be long. If they can be pressed together with a hot caul or some substitute the adhesion will be closer, but this is not always practicable. If the xylonite is used as an overlay on wood, in most instances the cement need only be applied to the former, but somewhat more thickly than when both surfaces are cemented. Should the adhesion not be sufficiently strong, it will be owing to the wood being so porous as to absorb more than its share of the cement, and in this case the usual preparation of sizing the wood may be resorted to, or weak glue may be applied to those portions which will be under the fret. If the wood has been French polished before the xylonite is laid, only the cement applied to the latter will be necessary, as it causes a perfect adherence, while ordinary glue, as is well known, does not adhere thoroughly to French-polished surfaces.

 

CHAPTER XIII.
   Polishing, Staining, and Bleaching.
 ALTHOUGH French polishing is a trade by itself, it is only reasonable to suppose that most amateurs will wish to finish their work themselves without having recourse to a professional polisher. The difficulties in the way of polishing, either by the method known as French or the simpler wax and oil polishing, are by no means great, so that few need be deterred from finishing the work themselves. To say all that might be said about the polisher's craft is of course out of the question and altogether beyond the intention of the present directions, and it must suffice to give general hints, which, however, ought to be sufficient to enable anyone to accomplish what is necessary in a satisfactory manner.
Although there are several methods by which wood may be polished, i.e., have a gloss given to it, the finest is that known as French polishing, and when properly done there is none better. The appearance of most woods is improved by polishing, which not only brightens them up, but brings out the figure, as it is said, by strengthening the contrasts between the various markings. The only exceptions to the rule that woods are improved by polishing are in the case of white woods, such as holly, which should be left unpolished.
French polishing, as is no doubt well known to the majority of our readers, consists in coating the wood with a thin varnish specially prepared for the purpose and applied in a peculiar manner by rubbing instead of brushing or painting on, as in the case of ordinary varnishing. The polishing varnish, or simply French polish, as it usually called, leaves only a thin film, almost an imperceptible one, on the wood, and is further rubbed till it

 

POLISHING, STAINING, AND BLEACHING.   105
shines. Such in outline is the principle of the process, which, however, cannot be applied without further directions as to the preparation of the wood, etc. The French polish itself can be bought ready prepared, but it may easily be prepared by the user. Various ingredients are sometimes used in making up the polish, but the best is the simplest, and consists merely of shellac and methylated spirit. The proportions may vary, but about 6oz. of the former in a pint of the latter forms a very good general polish. It is only necessary to mix the two in a bottle and leave till the lac is dissolved. The process may be slightly hastened by occasional shaking, and considerably so by the application of heat, which, however, we cannot advise unless the utmost caution be used, on account of the inflammability of the spirit. The polish may be either brown or colourless. In the former case the ordinary shellac is used, and in the other white or bleached shellac. For most kinds of wood brown polish does well enough, but where great purity is required the white alone should be used, and it may be satisfactory for those who do not care to keep the two kinds by them to know that the white polish may be used for any kind of wood. The only, or at any rate the chief, objection to it is that it is slightly more expensive than the other. The quantity that will be required by the fretcutter is so small that this con­sideration need hardly weigh with him.
Some woods, such as mahogany, walnut, and others which it is desired to darken somewhat, are usually oiled, the oil used being raw linseed.
It is rubbed in with a pad or rubber of cotton wadding enclosed in a piece of soft rag, or with a piece of rag alone. The wood should not be saturated, and the oil should be allowed to dry before the polish is applied. Were this to be done at once there would be a considerable waste both of time and material, owing to the quantity of polish which would be absorbed by the wood before any would be left on the surface. It is, therefore, customary to use a " filler" of some kind to stop up the pores of the wood, and though this may not be necessary with some of the closer grained varieties it is never detrimental to them, and must be used with coarser kinds, such as oak, mahogany, and walnut.
One of the best fillers is ordinary whitening mixed to a paste with turpentine, and another popular one is a mixture of the same, or plaster of paris with tallow. As may be imagined, the former is the pleasanter of the two, but whichever is used it is rubbed into the wood so as to fill the pores. When using a filler of this

 

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kind the difficulty is that some of it gets over the edges of the frets, and particularly into the corners, whence it is a matter of considerable trouble to remove it entirely. On this account it is often considered preferable to fill in with polish alone. To do this takes a good deal of time with some kinds of wood, and the following method is often practised with success. The piece of fretwork is fastened to a board and flooded with spirit varnish, which may be made by thickening ordinary French polish with resin or additional shellac. The varnish sinks into the wood and not only varnishes the edges of the holes, which it is out of the question to try and polish in the ordinary way, but stops the grain of the wood and so acts as a filler. The surface of the wood is then rubbed over with fine glass-paper just sufficiently to remove inequalities of the varnish, which, of course, must be thoroughly dry before the paper is applied. Instead of fastening the fret down and flooding it, the varnish may be applied with a brush and then, as before, rubbed with glass-paper. The grain of the wood having been filled by any method which is preferred, the polish may be applied, and the real art of the work consists in the way this is done.
A small rubber of cotton wadding covered with a piece of soft linen or cotton rag from which all stiffening in the shape of starch or sizing has been previously washed is made up in such a way that the bottom, or portion which comes in contact with the wood, is smooth and without creases or folds. A little polish is put on the wadding, the covering replaced, and the moisture equalised by pressing the rubber in the palm of the hand. The rubber is then with gentle pressure passed repeatedly over the wood till dry, and the operation is repeated as often as may be necessary to get a good body of the polish distributed equally on the wood.
When using the rubber, care must be taken that it is not made too wet, as all that is wanted is a slight moisture. If the rubber sticks and does not glide easily over the wood a very small quantity, the merest touch, of oil may be put on its face. It is also necessary not to let the rubber catch on the points of the fret and cause breakage. To lessen the risk of this happening, it is not a bad plan to put a coin, such as a penny piece, above the wadding, which forms a more rigid pad than it otherwise would do.
After a sufficient body of polish has been put on and allowed to get hard, the next part of the process is the final one of " spiriting off." This requires great care, for it consists in rubbing over the surface as before, but this time with a rubber charged

 

POLISHING, STAINING, AND BLEACHING.   107
with spirit only instead of polish. The object of the " spiriting off" is merely to remove the smears and dulness left by the polish rubber, the spirit with which it is moistened partially dissolving the surface of the body of shellac. It will easily be understood that this is a delicate operation, for if the spirit rubber is too wet, or too much spirit is used, all the body may be washed away instead of merely caused to shine brightly.
A much easier way of bringing the gloss up, or rather of impart­ing a gloss, is by means of a preparation called glaze, which, like polish, can be bought or be prepared by the user, applied to a surface which has been already " bodied in." It can be applied either with a sponge or a soft rubber made as before, but made fairly wet and drawn lightly once or twice over the wood instead of being smeared on in all directions. The effect is almost instantaneous, but the gloss is not so durable as when obtained by spiriting. Still, for many purposes, and especially for articles which are not much handled, it does almost equally well, while from the comparative ease with which glazing can be managed it may be a question whether the result is not better for amateurs than when spiriting is not done in the best manner. Spiriting requires considerable practice, while with ordinary care glazing can be done successfully with little or no preliminary practice. Glaze is made of gum benzoin and methylated spirit in varying proportions, according to the fancy of the user. Our own practice is to about half fill a bottle with the gum, which should be crushed, and then fill up with methylated spirit. The gum will dissolve, and the mixture must be strained through muslin before use.
It is often considered desirable to polish the wood before cut­ting it, and then many of the difficulties incidental to the polish­ing of fretwork are removed, and we certainly advise the novice, even if he does not make a practice of doing so, to polish a piece or two before fretting it. He will then gain useful experience more easily than otherwise, and will be able to polish frets more satisfactorily. He can use the filler first spoken of instead of varnish, and it may be well here to say that a white filler is usually coloured to match the wood to which it is applied. The exact tint, however, is not of much importance, and a little rose pink for mahogany or reddish woods and vandyke brown for walnut and the brown woods will be all the colours required. If the wood is polished beforehand, it is unnecessary to proceed further than the bodying in before fretting, leaving the final

 

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spiriting or glazing to be done afterwards. There is no practical reason why the polishing should not be finished at once, but whatever care is used when cutting, it will be necessary to go over the wood afterwards to remove scratches, etc., so that this " touch­ing up" and the final spiriting or glazing may as well form only one operation, in order to save time.
As the edges of frets cannot well be polished unless they form long curves, the best way to finish them is varnishing them care fully with a brush, special care being taken not to clog the corners. Owing to the difficulty of finishing edges they are often left un­touched, or at the most only oiled if they look too light in colour when contrasted with the surface of the fret.
What is known as dull polishing is effected by first polishing the wood, as already described, and then removing the gloss by means of little fine emery or pumice powder lightly rubbed on with a stiff brush, of which the strokes should all be in one direc­tion.
Another method of getting a dull polished surface is by means of the old-fashioned wax polishing process. This is very easy, but takes time, as the gloss is obtained almost entirely by friction and a small quantity of a wax paste, or, as it is generally called, " wax polish." This is made by melting some ordinary beeswax, and while still hot stirring in sufficient turpentine to form a stiffish paste when the mixture has become cold. Every polisher has his own ideas about wax polish, some preferring it in a liquid form, while others going to the opposite extreme use only the smallest quantity of turpentine, so that the novice can hardly make a mistake when there is such a variety of opinion among pro­fessional polishers. As will have been gathered, we prefer the polish to be in the form of a paste, but this is entirely a matter of fancy and custom. The mixture, a small quantity only of which is required, should be rubbed on with either a brush or rag, and the scrubbing continued till the polish comes up. Excessive rubbing can do no harm—indeed, if we may so express ourselves, the aim of the wax polisher should be to rub off all the wax he has previously put on.
Wax polish is peculiarly adapted to oak darkened by fumiga­tion, mahogany, and walnut, but is not so suitable for fine choice woods, such as olive. Edges may be sufficiently wax polished by means of a piece of waxed rag wrapped on a piece of stick of suitable size to fit into corners.
Simple oiling is sometimes resorted to instead of either wax or

 

POLISHING, STAINING, AND BLEACHING.     109
French polishing, and when a dead dull effect—often a very charm­ing one—is desired it is very effectual. By continual rubbing, a gloss almost equal to that of French polish can be got on an oiled surface, but the process is such a tedious and prolonged one that this is seldom done. When work is either wax polished or oiled, it is not advisable to do so before fretting the wood, especially if the design is stuck on to the wood, as the moisture in the paste or glue will remove all the gloss. This does not apply to French polish, to which, by the way, the paper will not adhere so firmly that it cannot be removed without the aid of the scraper.
As all work should be in parts when it is polished, it may be well to say that the polish must be scraped off joints to be glued together, as glue does not hold well on polished surfaces. If the articles are made up before polishing, as they ought to be, the fitting should only be of a temporary character, for if the parts are permanently made up, there will be a difficulty in polishing corners cleanly through the impossibility of getting the rubber in them. The polish will accumulate in such parts, giving them, to use an expressive trade term, a treacely appearance, or it will leave them untouched. Neither of these is a desideratum.
As every one who reads these lines no doubt knows, a light wood is often stained to imitate, at any rate so far as an approximation to colour can do so, a superior or darker wood. Now, as far as fretwork is concerned, we cannot advise the amateur to attempt staining for the following reasons, apart from the difficulties which he will generally meet with in the way of colour, etc. :—If the wood is stained before cutting, the staining is only superficial, and the edges will, after the fretting has been done, show the natural colour of the wood and require to be separately stained. On the other hand, if the staining is deferred till after the fretting, the liquid of the stain is apt to raise the grain of the wood, and sink more deeply at some parts of the edges than at others. As suitable wood can be got in such a variety of colours, either natural or dyed through, we recommend the amateur not to stain more than he can help. As, however, it is not always convenient to be unable to stain or match up the colours of two pieces of wood which may not be of the same colour, it may be useful to know how to treat them occasionally. To darken mahogany, solu­tions of either bichromate or permanganate of potash are very useful, the strength of the solution depending on the intensity of the stain required. For darkening oak and making it resemble brown oak, the solution of bichromate of potash is very good.

 

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For a brown stain, nothing is better than a mixture of vandyke brown and liquid ammonia diluted with water, as may be desired. It must be noted that after the application of any liquid stain the roughness caused by the moisture must be rubbed down with fine glass-paper, care being taken not to remove so much of the surface as to show the natural colour below, and neither polish nor varnish must be applied till the wood has become thoroughly dry.
So far, particulars have only been given for staining by means of liquids applied to the wood, but there is another process, known as fumigation. As this is done by the vapour of ammonia, and the wood is not touched by liquid, the grain is not raised, so that there is no objection to fretwork being darkened by this method. The woods which are chiefly treated by fumigation are oak and mahogany, for while others may be influenced by ammonia vapour, many undergo no change when subjected to it.
To darken wood by fumigation it is only necessary to put the pieces in a box, which, when closed, should be as nearly air-tight as possible, along with some strong liquid ammonia in a saucer or shallow dish. The wood should be so arranged that the vapour has access to all portions, and as the grain is not raised it should be cut first. Any box may be made sufficiently air-tight by pasting strips of paper over the joints and where the lid fits. The quantity of ammonia cannot be stated exactly, as so much depends on its strength and the size of the box, but the quantity of wood which may be stained at a time has little or nothing to do with it. It is therefore from an economical point of view desirable to stain as many pieces as the box is capable of holding at one time. If left in the box for a few hours, say, for a night, the colour of the wood will be perceptibly darker. If it is not dark enough then, it must be re-enclosed with some fresh ammonia, and so on till the depth required has been obtained. In order to watch the progress of the fumigation the box may have a piece of glass let into any part to serve as a window, but as it is sometimes difficult to see the wood or rather its colour, we prefer the following plan, which we do not think has been published before. A hole is bored in the lid or any convenient portion of the box with a large gimlet or small bit. A stick of wood of the same kind as that to be fumigated is cut to fit tightly in the hole, a portion of it being projected through to the inside and enough left on the outside to allow it to be grasped and withdrawn. As the fumigation proceeds the progress can easily be ascertained by pulling the stick out and noting how the portion within the box has darkened.

 

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A prolonged examination will not be necessary, but if desirable the hole can be temporarily closed by pressing a finger over it. In any case the escape of the vapour will not amount to much. Woods that can be darkened by ammonia may be left for a few days in a stable instead of treating them with the vapour.
Instead of darkening wood it is sometimes requisite to lighten its colour. There are several bleaches which have been recom­mended for this purpose, but for general use none of them is better than a solution of oxalic acid in water. As this is a deadly poison, care should be taken to keep it under lock and key.
As it may be presumed that the fretcutter will make use of xylonite, a few directions about polishing it will not be amiss, as it requires entirely different treatment from wood. Small pieces may be polished by rubbing with a mixture of oil and pumice powder till all roughness and scratches are removed and then rubbing with whitening either dry or with a very little oil till sufficiently polished. Any of the powder which gets in the corners or elsewhere may be washed away with water and a soft brush without injuring either the fret or the polish. The process is rather a laborious one, so it may be satisfactory to know that the British Xylonite Company, 124, High Street, Homerton, do not object to polish amateur's work at very reasonable charges, and as they have special appliances for the purpose they naturally get a better finish than can be obtained otherwise without much labour. It may be interesting to state that the, polishing is effected by means of calico wheels revolving at a high rate of speed, aided by pumice powder, whitening, and oil, so that those who have access to similar wheels or can fit them up can do the work for themselves.

 

CHAPTER XIV. Inlaying and Marquetry.
INLAYING one substance with another or with one of similar material is, compared with ordinary open fretwork, distinctly an advance. Inlaying cannot be done satisfactorily till proficiency has been attained in ordinary plain fretsawing. To a certain extent the processes are the same, but inlaying of what­ever kind is more difficult than the other. It is not to be under­stood that the difficulties are so great that only a few specially skilled experts can manage inlaying of any kind, for there is no reason why anyone who can saw fairly well to any outline should not be able to do even the most elaborate and difficult form of inlaying ordinarily known in this country as marquetry. At the same time we cannot too strongly impress upon the aspirant to facility in inlaying or marquetry work that unless he can manipulate the fretsaw easily and accurately he need not hope to succeed, practice and knowledge are necessary. The former depends on himself. The latter we hope to impart, and we must caution him that with one exception, so far as we know, all the purported guides to marquetry work are either so vague as to be almost useless, or extremely fallacious. The fact is that marquetry-cutters have been in the past, and to a certain extent still are, extremely jealous of allowing anyone to become acquainted with their methods of work, so that there have been unusual difficulties in the way of giving practical directions to those who could not learn directly from one of the craft. The same secrecy was maintained by fretcutters in this country till comparatively recent years. When we see the degree of proficiency to which amateurs in fretwork attain, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that they might succeed equally well with marquetry if they only knew how. If they attempt to do this kind of work according to

 

INLAYING AND MARQUETRY.                113
the directions generally given, it is no wonder that they soon give it up in disgust under the mistaken notion that it is beyond their capacity. If rightly taught there is no reason why marquetry should not be practised more extensively than it is, for it cannot be considered much, if at all, more difficult than another favourite pastime, wood-carving, while to many it will be much easier.

On the respective merits of the two arts, wood-carving and inlaying, or rather that form of it called marquetry, we do not intend to enter, but those who have paid little attention to the latter can be but faintly aware of its claims for recognition as a means of artistic recreation. For decorating furniture and interior woodwork, with the exception of carving, there is nothing more appropriate or beautiful. We are now referring to marquetry or inlays made up of variously coloured pieces, but in a less degree the remarks apply to plain inlays of only two colours or materials, and the way in which these are formed must be first described. The directions on plain inlays are specially given for beginners, or rather for those who are able to do ordinary fretwork but are not acquainted with inlaying procedure, while the directions for cutting and making up marquetry may be studied with advantage by all who wish to become proficients in this beautiful art. There is no reason why ladies should not, by turning their attention to marquetry-cutting, extend the number of artistic pursuits open to them and if need be turn it into a means of increasing their income. They will find it at least as profitable as wood-carving ; the work, even when pursued as a source of income, can be done at home, for it is not customary for marquetry-cutters to do their work in the factories or shops of those whom they supply. If we may venture a few words of advice to those who wish to supplement their incomes in this manner, we would say that they should not ask more than the ordinary trade remuneration. Our own experience of the ideas of amateurs, or quasi-professionals, is that their work is either not up to the mark, or that they have exaggerated notions of its value. As we are giving them a little piece of advice, may we also say that it is not good policy to introduce themselves and their work to a manufacturer's notice by informing him that somebody, who probably knows nothing about it, has told them that their work is worth so and so much. The best way is to let the work speak for itself. Marquetry-cutters who can design or adapt given designs to suit special shapes and sizes will stand a much better chance of getting employment than others. The

H

 

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shapes and sizes of the panels, etc., as well as of the design, con­stantly vary, so that "stock" panels are little or no use.

Before giving directions for making up marquetry, simpler forms of inlay must be dealt with, as they are not only necessary but will to a certain extent pave the way for it.

 

CHAPTER XV. Plain Inlaying.
IT may be as well to explain here that there is a species of so- called inlaying which is formed of geometrically shaped pieces in which the fretsaw plays no part. Familiar instances of such work are chess or draught table tops, in which each piece is in the shape of a square. These are not included in the marquetry-cutters operations. What we have to do is to explain how fretwork may be inlaid, or, to give a more extended definition, how inlaying, in connection with which the fretsaw is the most important tool, may be managed in the most workmanlike manner. In case this last remark may seem some­what out of place in a book specially dedicated to amateurs, let us hasten to explain that those methods which are adopted by the workman, or professional artisan, will in any craft be found in the long run not only simpler but better in every way than mere makeshifts.
The simplest kind of inlaying is that in which two pieces of wood are fretted at the same time, so that the pieces which have been cut out fit either into the wood of which they originally formed part, or into the other which was cut at the same time. Thus, if a piece of white wood and a piece of black are cut at the same time the portions which have hitherto been waste can no longer be regarded as such, forming, as they do, a very important part of the inlay. They are the pieces which are inlaid, so that they cannot be regarded as being secondary, even to the pattern, which in plain open fretwork has been the only part of the wood to be preserved. If the pieces cut from the white wood are laid in the openings they must fill them as well as they would those in the pieces from which they came, and vice versa. Two inlays are thus obtained—one of them a white ground with black inlays,
H 2

 

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the other a black ground with white inlays. There is thus, so far as pieces are concerned, no waste, but there is the same kerf to be compensated for, the wood removed in the form of sawdust being the only waste. This will be referred to later on. The chief differences in manipulation when cutting ordinary fretwork and that which is to be inlaid must be considered.
The first thing is the necessity of avoiding injuring the pieces cut out. In them, when waste, the holes for the saws could be drilled in the most convenient place, and of any size, and the saw could cut through them in any way. All that is altered now, for neither holes nor saw-cut must be allowed to show in the pieces to be removed. Both must be on the line of design, and there can be no running into waste to facilitate turning corners, etc. To begin with, then, the drill used must be no larger than is absolutely necessary to. allow the saw to pass through the hole made by it. The blades themselves should also be as fine as convenient, so that a much finer drill than there is any occasion to use in ordinary fretwork will be required. The hole that must be made with it being on the line of the design should be placed in some part where it is least likely to be conspicuous, for however fine the drill may be and with whatever care it is used it is not possible altogether to prevent the hole being seen.
As small drills are very fine, they must be used gently to prevent them being broken, for the same amount of pressure must not be applied to them as to coarser kinds. If the drill breaks in the wood, it is sometimes an awkward matter to remove the broken piece. When the broken pieces cannot be withdrawn the best way is to bore a fresh hole elsewhere, and on the saw reaching the broken bit to work as close round it as possible, almost as if one were endeavouring to saw through it. The teeth of the saw will probably suffer, but this will be better than spoiling or blemish­ing the work. When using a fine drill, care is necessary to withdraw it; as the metal of which the drills are composed is very highly tempered and consequently brittle, they must be drawn out straight. Any attempt to ease them by working them side­ways will certainly break them. As it is sometimes difficult to meet with very fine drills, it may be well to suggest that the broad flattened parts can be rubbed down on an oilstone. In doing this care should be taken not to injure the sharp edges of the facets. A bradawl ground down to a very thin tapered edge may be sometimes used to make an entrance for the saw.

 

PLAIN INLAYING.                            117
When the blade is in, extreme regularity in sawing is necessary, as it is quite impossible to correct any deviations from the line by filing or trimming them up true.
Although the saws used should be as fine as convenient, there is no necessity for the finest only, say the 00 or 0, being con­sidered suitable, for the grades numbered 1, 2, or even 3 do not make an excessively wide kerf, and for most work will do very well. It may be wondered why we do not advise the use of the finest saws made, and our reasons are that the finer grades are more difficult to use than those which are comparatively coarse. The difficulty of doing the work is great enough any way, and there is no use in increasing it unnecessarily. Certainly the finer the blade the smaller the cut, and consequent close-fitting together of the parts, but an absolutely tight fit is not necessary in most work. To be perfect theoretically, no doubt the pieces should fit quite closely, but practically there is no occasion for them doing so. In determining what space can be allowed, or what the width of kerf may be without destroying the beauty of the work, many circumstances must be taken into consideration, and it is not possible to state definitely what will suit each case. It must therefore be sufficient to give such general limit or suggestions as may enable the learner to decide for himself.
The distance at which the finished inlay will ordinarily be from the observer when it is fixed in its destined position is not to be ignored, and may be taken as the first matter to be con­sidered, for a joint between two pieces could not be so clearly seen at even a short distance as if examined closely in the hand. The majority of fretwork articles, all of which it may be assumed come under the heading of inlaying, are not subject to very minute scrutiny unless for purposes of special examination. There is, therefore, no occasion to waste time and increase labour by using the finest saws. On the other hand, there are some articles in which fineness and the highest degree of finish are essential, unless they are to miss the intention of their maker, and on these no amount of care can be considered excessive.
The thickness and hardness of the materials being sawn must also be taken into account, for no one would think of sawing, or attempting to do so, through two thicknesses of Jin. stuff with a No. 0 blade. It is very rarely that anything much thicker than veneer is used for inlaying, but there are articles which it is sometimes better to inlay in comparatively thick stuff, as, for instance, the handles of paper-knives. Even when veneers or

 

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material such as metal, mother-of-pearl, etc., of no greater substance are to be cut, it may be necessary to take their hardness into account.
One point, and it is one which is very apt to be overlooked, in determining the width of the cut is the fact that the glue which is used to stick the pieces together and the subsequent operations of cleaning up materially tend to close the joint, and if not rendering it invisible at least prevent it from looking conspicuously wide. This is especially the case when either the ground or the inlay is black or dark in colour, for two light woods used together require more attention in this respect.
At present we have considered the saw as cutting perpendicularly to the wood, so that even were a dozen pieces of veneer being cut through, there would be no difference whatever in the sizes of the pieces removed. Those from the top veneer would fit equally as well into the bottom one, as the pieces from it would fit into the top. The pieces, therefore, may be considered as inter­changeable with each other, but there must be the space of the thickness of the saw open between them, of course, till it is filled up as suggested with glue. It will thus be noticed, that there is no waste whatever of the pieces of veneer, however many of them are cut, for each piece can be utilised. With this remark, which we will ask the reader to keep in mind, we proceed to show how the pieces are to be cut when it is desirable that the parts shall fit tightly.
Impossible as this may seem when the necessity of allowing for the saw kerf is remembered, it is yet remarkably simple. All that is necessary is to saw on the bevel instead of perpendicularly, i.e., to give the sides of the cuts a slanting direction instead of a square one with the surfaces. When the hand-frame is used this must be done by sloping the saw to one side or the other, but in machines, as the saw cannot be altered in this respect, the same result is got by adjusting the tilting table to a sufficient degree. Herein lies the sole advantage of having a tilting table. Most machines have it, but even with a fixed table there is little difficulty in sawing on' the bevel, by interposing a board, gradually diminishing in thickness from one side to the other, between that being cut, which rests on it, and the table. The wood to be cut of course lies at a slope with the saw, and that is all that is required. The convenience of a table which can be tilted is that it can be adjusted to any angle. By sawing round an opening on the bevel it must be evident that the piece cut out

 

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will be bigger at the top or bottom, according to the direction in which the sawing proceeds, and in this lies the whole secret of compensating for the width of the saw kerf. On this principle, if two pieces of wood are sawn through at the same time, the pieces from one of them will fit into the space made in the other. If the bevel has been excessive it will not fit so accurately that the surfaces are equal, while if it has not been enough the pieces will fit loosely but still more closely than they would have done if there had been no bevel. The happy medium is to have the bevel just such that the top piece will quite fill the lower opening—or vice versa, as already suggested, it being presumed that both pieces of wood are of precisely the same thickness. In order to prevent any possible misconception, diagrams illustrating this mode of inlaying are given, and it must be explained that they are on an enlarged scale so far as thickness of wood and width of saw kerf are concerned, that the principles explained may be perfectly demonstrated. The wood is represented in section.
saws cutting on the bevel
Fig. 52.                                      Fig. 53.
Saws Cutting on the Bevel.
In fig. 52 the broad principle of cutting on the bevel is shown with upper opening larger than the lower, the saw being indicated by the sloping line A. If, now, we imagine this saw to be vertical and the wood it is cutting to be on the table of the machine, we find the degree to which this is tilted, and that it is inclined downwards towards the right, the saw blade facing towards the operator. Now, keeping the table tilted in the same direction, but with the cutting proceeding in the opposite one, it will be seen that the upper opening is the smaller of the two, as in fig. 53.
By reversing the slope of the tilting table and the saws as shown, opposite results will be obtained, so that the sawyer can tilt it, if it will tilt in both directions as most of them do, to please himself, and make either the lower or upper opening the larger.
The precise degree of slope or bevel must depend both on the

 

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thickness of the wood and on that of the saw. As these will con­stantly vary in different pieces of work, the inlayer cannot do better than make a few trials for himself. A few experiments, which can easily be made, will, with the hints given, be of more service than whole pages of explanation. When beginning a new piece of work it is always well to test the degree to which the table is tilted on a couple of pieces of waste wood of the same thickness, in order to prevent any mistake.
The work of drilling, sawing, etc., is exactly the same whether done on the bevel or straight, but it is as well to drill the hole at a slope to correspond with that of the bevel.
Now, when the cutting is straight the pieces are inter­changeable, but when sawn on the bevel this is not the case, for, supposing the upper opening to be the larger, the piece from it will fit into the opening below, but the piece from this will not fit into the top one. There is, therefore, an unavoidable waste, for the piece cut out of the lower piece of wood is useless. Occa­sionally, also, the top piece may be waste except for the piece cut out of it and let into the lower one, but often it may be utilised as an overlaid fret, or if thick enough as an ordinary open piece of fretwork. In this respect, therefore, inlays cut on the bevel compare unfavourably with those cut in the simpler manner, for it takes two pieces of equal size to form one inlay.
With ordinary veneers there is no difficulty in sawing through six thicknesses with a No. 1 saw, one colour being that of the ground, and the other of the pieces let into it, or the simplest kind of inlay. Many writers on the subject give minute direc­tions for forming complicated inlays by laying pieces on top of each other either for the same or for separate cuttings, but such directions are not the outcome of practical experience. Whenever an inlay of several colours is wanted it will be much better to adopt the course pursued by all practical marquetry-cutters, which is the only practical one, except perhaps for the very coarsest kind of work, and even then it is simpler and better.
Whenever more than one inlay is wanted of the same size or pattern, each inlay being of two colours or kinds, the facility with which several pieces of veneer can be cut at the same time may be judiciously taken advantage of by placing the veneers in their respective colours alternately. If cut on the bevel the top one is only of use to supply the pieces to fit into the sheet immediately below it. With common cheap materials this may not be of much consequence, and having pointed out the circumstances the sawyer

 

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will have no difficulty in deciding for himself which course to adopt. By the use of five pieces of veneer four inlays will be got, and five sheets are by no means an awkward number to cut through, while if three are cut there will be two inlays. One, or two, as the case may be, of these will be the original, while the others will be the counters or negatives as far as colour is concerned, but not on that account necessarily of less value or beauty. There may be some among our readers who are inclined to think that thick inlays might be cut instead of thin veneers. Well, such a supposition at first sight seems a reasonable one, but further acquaintance will show that thick inlays are seldom necessary, are more troublesome, and of little more utility than the thinner, even when both sides of a piece of work, as, to refer to a familiar instance, in the case of the projecting upright of a bracket. It is only necessary to lay two inlaid veneers, one on each side, on such a piece to give the effect of a piece inlaid right through. This method is far simpler, easier, and less wasteful.
To prepare the veneers for cutting they must be fastened to­gether in some way. One way is to stick the pieces together by means of glued paper between them We do not recommend this plan, for although it gives a nice solid piece to cut, it is an ex­tremely difficult matter to separate the pieces afterwards without breaking them. With comparatively thick wood, metal, or xylonite, even if thin, this method is as good as any. To fasten the veneers of wood together the best way is to nail them with small wire nails, the ends of which should be turned over to clamp the pieces up, and, of course, must be outside the design. Between each piece of wood a piece of greased paper should be laid, as explained in a former chapter, for though not absolutely necessary such a precaution will be found of great assistance to the action of the saw. If the veneers are large, and therefore likely to spring while being sawn, or do not lie so low and flat as they ought, a few wafers of the common coloured kinds sold by stationers stuck here and there between the sheets will be found useful, as the pieces are afterwards easily separated by inserting a thin knife blade between them. If the wood is dark it can do no harm to put fine wire nails through at any part of the work. The holes they make will be so minute as not to be discernible after the work is finished. Nails to be removed should not be too tightly clinched. As the pieces are cut out they should be laid on one side in some order approximating to their position in the inlay, and every care be taken not to get them mixed up with each other. If such a

 

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mischance as this does happen it will be an awkward one. When working in a special room for the purpose there is not so much risk of this happening as when the work must be done at odd times in the ordinary living rooms of the family. To put the pieces under such circumstances on a tray or board in the expectation that they will remain in their plans is almost to court disaster. Several alternatives may be suggested for those who cannot leave the pieces without danger of their being disturbed. One is, make a number of compartments divided from each other by thin wood or cardboard on a board or tray, each compartment being numbered. On the design number the pieces to be cut out, and as they are separated drop them into the compartment with the corresponding number. In this case the design, or a recognisable if only a rough tracing, must be kept as the key to show where the numbered pieces go. Instead of numbering them the pieces may be placed in compartments as nearly as possible in the order of the position they occupy in the design.
Perhaps a simpler method and one which will commend itself to many is to replace the pieces when the cutting has for a time been done. They can easily be taken out again when wanted by putting a board over the work, turning it upside down, and then lifting the fret. If the cutting has not been done on the bevel, of course it is only necessary to raise the fret from the board on which it is assumed to have been laid before the pieces were replaced. By the methods named any ordinary fretwork pattern may be used for inlaying purposes.

 

CHAPTER XVI.
     Easy Inlaying with Several Materials.
HITHERTO only the simplest kind of inlaying has been mentioned, for the pieces being cut together must fit. We proceed to describe a process of inlaying in which the pieces are cut separately, so that the fit depends entirely on skill and accuracy. If the inlays are to be good, these qualities must have been developed to a considerable extent; it would be mere folly for the novice to attempt this kind of work. It is by cutting the pieces separately that the most elaborate specimens of marquetry are produced. The principle is the same, but the details of work are different and more complicated. If the worker can succeed with the simple method, he will find little difficulty in doing fine marquetry, and apart from its being a good introduction to this, he will find it useful on its own account in making up many little articles of more intrinsic value than plain fretwork.
But, it may be asked, what advantage is gained by cutting the pieces separately? It is a reasonable question, and deserves consideration . When the pieces can be cut together there may be no advantage, that method is chiefly of use when the inlay is of the simplest kind, and even then cannot always conveniently be adopted. There are objections to it—the drill holes, for example. When the pieces are cut separately these do not appear, for they are formed in the waste. Again, it is not always practicable to fasten the different veneers together so solidly as they ought to be, for though the nail holes may not always be visible, "they are never desirable, and in many instances amount to a positive blemish. If the pieces are cut separately, there is plenty of space in the waste material for the nails, and wafers or other adhesive substances may be dispensed with altogether. Smaller pieces may

 

124                          FRETWORK AND MARQUETRY.
be used to cut the portions which are to be let in from, so that there is little waste. Instead of being limited to two or three colours, the inlay may consist of any number. All the inlays are precisely alike, for there are no counters or negatives. All points and corners can be cut with the utmost sharpness and cleanness without the necessity of using a saw of one of the finest grades. In case of an irregular or faulty line, the pieces can be worked on to rectify any defect, as when plain fretwork is being treated.
As the sawing must be done with accuracy, the designs, or rather lines of the designs, must be identical on the piece forming the groundwork and on those to be cut separately ; for if there is any irregularity, no matter how well the sawing may be done, the pieces cannot fit accurately. With great care, designs multiplied by means of carbon paper may be made use of. There is, however, always the danger of paper so applied stretching, and the lines being thereby distorted. This must be most carefully guarded against. The safest way to proceed in such cases is to put the adhesive on the wood, and then press the paper down straight without rubbing it. Wrinkles may rise, and there may be some air bubbles—probably will be. The former, unless excessive, will right themselves as the paper dries, while the latter may be got rid of by pricking them and pressing—not rubbing—the paper down to expel the air. An apparently easier way of getting over the difficulty which may arise from the paper stretching may possibly have occurred to some readers, viz., to lay the paper on the wood, and then trace it from the original design. This does well enough for ordinary work when there are no inlays, but it will require remarkably careful tracing to get all of them exactly alike, so that for all practical purposes this plan is not feasible. In the meantime we may suggest a method which, though we do not know that it has been advocated before, is none the less useful. We have found it extremely so, and can recommend it. It is seldom that only one inlay is required, and when more are wanted . the way now recommended is a natural and simple one. When only one is to be prepared, a piece of thin waste wood must be cut along with it. This in any case would be necessary if the inlay is only in veneer thickness, so that is no extra expenditure of material. The thinnest and commonest pine will do as well as anything for the waste piece, the object of which is not only to sustain the veneer, but to allow of a piece of very thin cardboard or stout brown paper being sawn at the same time with the veneer, by being placed between it and the waste. The card must

 

EASY INLAYING WITH SEVERAL MATERIALS.   125
not be stuck down, and it will be better not to grease it. If there is any occasion for doing so, two pieces of paper or card may be used to form two patterns, but they will not often be required. The thicknesses of wood are to be fastened together as before, with wire nails, and greased paper may be inserted. The fret is then sawn as before, and only ordinary care need be used to adhere closely to the line, as the difficult part of the work will come next.
The thin card or paper will of course be an exact counterpart of the fret as regards the outline, and it is to be used to cut the pieces to be inlaid by. Either the card cut out with the waste, or the repeat of the fret may be used, and which of them must depend on circumstances. It may, however, be necessary to remind the cutter that the saw kerf must be allowed for. This can be managed as follows : If the waste pieces are used, cut round outside them without touching the paper itself, while if the fretted paper is preferred, the saw must proceed just within its edge and not on the uncovered material. The reason for using thick paper or thin card is that it can be stuck down with less risk of altering under the influence of the glue or paste than with thinner paper. Of course if greasy the adhesive will not act well, hence the reason for saying that it should not be used as a vehicle for lubricating the saw.
By adopting this mode extreme accuracy is only needed when cutting one set of lines, that is, those of the pieces to be inlaid, instead of having to be equally careful with all. The risk of getting irregular pieces which will not fit is thus diminished by half. This plan may be regarded as an intermediate stage between plain inlaying and marquetry work.
Ordinary or coarse marquetry may be managed to some extent by the method just described, but when there are a great number of pieces and any of them are very minute or fine and thin the difficulties in the way of doing so are considerably increased and greater than when the ordinary method is adopted.. Owing to the liability of veneers to break when the pieces are fine, a special appliance known as a donkey is used in order that the risk may be as small as possible. Even when cutting veneers of any kind with a machine it is desirable that this should have a presser foot to prevent them springing up and getting broken. The saws also must be regulated to a nicety, so that they cut cleanly, without jerking. When a machine has no presser the difficulty may be got over by making use of something which can be held down on

 

126                          FRETWORK AND MARQUETRY.
the veneer just behind or close to the saw. Any thin piece of wood a few inches in length and 1/2in. or so wide may be used, and if the end be bevelled it will be found more convenient than if simply cut straight across.

 

CHAPTER XVII.
Marquetry Inlaying.
MARQUETRY is inlaid ornamentation of one or more woods or other material, forming either a perfect picture or ornament by itself, the wood in which it is laid being a necessary adjunct, but not forming part of the ornament. For our present purpose, at any rate, this definition will be sufficient and enable a distinction to be drawn between inlaid frets and the kind of inlay now under consideration.
After having become almost a lost art in this country, marquetry-cutting is again coming to the fore. With its increasing popularity the quality of the bulk of the work has, within the last few years, steadily deteriorated in quality, thanks to the constant demand for cheap furniture. How far time will modify or tone down the crude colourings of much of the modern date marquetry, or to what extent it may be credited with the contrary on the good specimens of old work which are in existence, it is hardly for us to say, but we cannot help thinking that many of these latter must have been much brighter than they are popularly supposed to have been when new.
The materials which are used for marquetry inlays are almost entirely veneers, or materials of about the thickness of ordinary veneer. In addition to veneers in the natural colours of the wood, which are to be preferred for the choicest kind of work, dyed veneers in an almost endless range of colours and tints are to be had. They should be used sparingly and only when some effect which cannot be got with the natural woods is wanted, unless the colours of the different pieces are blended with skill and taste. The same care should be used with them as an artist would use in selecting and applying his colours.

 

128                          FRETWORK AND MARQUETRY.
For the groundwork of the inlay any kind of veneer may be used, but it is rare to see anything but the natural wood, with the exception of black. The woods most in vogue for the purpose are at present rosewood and mahogany. This latter when fumi­gated with ammonia or otherwise darkened to the so-called "Chippendale" tint approaches very closely to the former in colour. Walnut, either burr or American, is occasionally used for the ground, but inlays rarely look so well in conjunction with it, and they are not so fashionable. Formerly satin wood was held in high repute, and for delicately tinted and carefully executed work it is unsurpassed, though not much seen in modern work. It is not so suitable for beginners, for it is more difficult to hide bad joints in light than in dark wood.
The necessity of having the lines of the piece to be inlaid and of the pieces to be let into it to correspond exactly need not be further urged. The plan adopted ensures absolute precision, but the preparation of the pattern is a tedious one. It is to prick the whole of the outline carefully so as to form a stencil, by means of which the design may be pounced down on the wood to be cut. The design when once prepared lasts a long time with careful usage, and a large number of pouncings may be made with it. A coarse needle is as suitable as anything to prick the design with, and if it is stuck into the end of a penholder or anything of that kind to form a handle it can be more conveniently used than by itself. If the holes are too fine there is a danger of them get­ting clogged up with the pouncing powder or not allowing it to pass through sufficiently freely to give a clear outline, formed by a series of dots. If the holes are too large the lines will be coarser than they should be to form a guide for accurate cutting. There will be no difficulty in determining by experiment what suits best. Almost any kind of paper may be used for the stencil, but a hard thin make of good quality is the best for the purpose, and a soft thick fluffy one should be avoided.
If the design has both sides alike, half the labour may be saved by folding the paper down the middle and piercing both at the same time. By this means, also, both sides are got exactly alike without any trouble. The same plan may be followed whenever a design is made up of four quarters. The needle in passing through will form a burr round the holes, and this is apt to prevent clean pouncing. It may be removed by the application of the finest glass-paper.
Simple though the preparation of the stencil pattern may seem,

 

MARQUETRY INLAYING.                        129
the novice must not expect to make a satisfactory one at the first attempt. It will therefore be well to practise a little on odd pieces of paper before proceeding to work on a full design.
Many fine powders may be used to pounce with, but for general purposes asphalte is the most suitable material, as when properly treated marks with it are indelible. It is a brown pitchy substance sold in lumps, and must not be confounded with the coarse asphalte used in paving roadways. A small quantity should be powdered finely, and as it is very friable there is no difficulty about this with little more effort than by pinching and rubbing it between a finger and thumb. The powder should then be put in a muslin bag and the pounce is formed. To use it, all that is necessary is to pass it over the stencil, when enough will go through to mark the design on the wood or paper underneath. If left so the design could easily be erased, and if on lifting the stencil it is defective it should be brushed away. A flick or two with a handkerchief will obliterate it. If it looks all right, hold it near a fire or over the gas or lamp till the heat melts the asphalte. It is then prac­tically indelible when cold, and may be handled without fear of injury. It is owing to this that asphalte is so valuable to the marquetry-cutter. Being itself dark it cannot be used on any but light woods, unless they are prepared for it by rubbing chalk or by sticking light paper on them, the latter being the better though slightly more troublesome method. Light coloured powders are sometimes used for pouncing on to dark wood, but the marks are easily obliterated.
As rosewood is an unpleasant wood to cut owing to the resin it contains, its properties in this respect may be improved by heating the veneers to such an extent that the resins or gums are melted and come to the surface, from which they may be wiped off. This need only be done when the wood is unusually refractory under the saw.
Four thicknesses of veneer are usually sawn through at the same time, even though only one inlay is required; but those who may find it as easy to work the saw through fewer or more need not of course be guided by this custom. They are fastened together with small wire nails in the way already described, with pieces of paper smeared with tallow separating the veneers. The size of the pieces must be regulated according to that of the parts to be cut from them, so that there is comparatively little waste, for it is quite unnecessary to do more than mark the particular part of the design to be cut from it on any piece of the veneers.
I

 

130                          FRETWORK AND MARQUETRY.
In arranging these attention should be paid to the direction of the grain of the wood, for in many designs the beauty of the work can either be greatly enhanced or detracted from by this means. With figured veneers, the effort should be to get the markings so that they correspond more or less with the direction of the sweep or curve of the design of which they form the part. To give minute directions on this is of course impossible, as no two pieces of wood are exactly alike in figuring. It is just on such little points that the taste of the worker is displayed. When only one or two inlays are wanted, but for the sake of convenience four of them are cut together, only those which are to be used need be of the special kind required to form the inlay. The others may be of any faulty or common kind, for they are only waste and are simply used to make up the thickness which in ordinary circumstances is found to be most conveniently sawn. The holes are drilled in the waste wood, if any are necessary, for when small pieces are being cut it is often just as easy to saw through from the edge of the wood.
The saws used need not be of the finest kind, for if they cut cleanly little more is necessary, and the grades 1, 2, or even 3 will do very well for most purposes. However, by the time the worker has acquired sufficient skill to cut marquetry he will be able to judge for himself what size blade to use, for even among the best marquetry-cutters opinions differ not only on this but on other details. Use and custom have a good deal to do with it.
In a former chapter reference was made to the saws used by marquetry-cutters. These, as a rule, almost invariably make their own, but it is questionable whether the amateur or occasional cutter would derive any benefit to compensate him for doing so. Preparing the saws is an art in itself, and one not to be acquired at once, so that in learning to do so time which might be more advantageously used might be wasted.
It is noteworthy that different marquetry-cutters make their saws in different ways, to some extent regulating them according to the work in hand. They get accustomed to the saws of their own making, and are more at home with them than with others. It is, however, very doubtful if an amateur, or anyone but a most practised sawyer, could appreciate minute differences of this kind. Many marquetry-cutters do not find it worth while to make their own saws, but use instead the ordinary article of the tool-shop.
If the hand-frame is used for sawing marquetry work a donkey will be almost indispensable in place of the ordinary cutting-board.

 

MARQUETRY INLAYING.                       131
Full instructions will be found for making one in a succeeding chapter, as well as a modified form which we have devised for use when a donkey is not convenient. The donkey, we may add, is not kept by any dealer, so far as we are aware, as an article of sale, being either made for or by the marquetry-cutter himself. The treadle machine is seldom or never used by marquetry-cutters, who allege that it is not suitable for the purpose, and that it is more difficult to use than the ordinary wooden frame and donkey. This is no doubt correct in reference to the finest and smallest work, for without saying that this cannot be done on a good machine, such as the Britannia Company's No. 8, hand-sawing is more convenient in many respects and offers fewer difficulties. With work in which the pieces are moderately large there is little difficulty in using the machine, and considerably more than four thicknesses can be cut. Till one is accustomed to the donkey the machine is certainly easier and less fatiguing to the sawyer. The mode of working is as with ordinary fret, more care if anything being used to saw accurately to the line. To compensate for the thickness of the saw-blade it will be remembered that it is necessary to saw within the line of the outer piece of wood or ground of the inlay and on the outside of the lines of the pieces to be let in. Reference to this having been made in a former chapter, the point need not be further dilated on here.
As at first the novice may encounter considerable difficulty in sawing long narrow pieces of perhaps not more than 1/16in. width without breaking them, it may be suggested that in thin xylonite he will find a material which will aid him in doing so. It is admirably adapted to the needs of the amateur marquetry-cutter and the finest work can be done in it. As it is tough and has no grain the finest members are not apt to get broken when cutting them. The finest lines can be sawn without danger in this respect, the only limit being the ability of the worker to guide the saw. The work, even the finest, can be done as well on the machine as with the hand-frame, while many effects which cannot be got with wooden veneers are to be got with xylonite by the judicious use of transparent or semi-transparent pieces. These when polished give a peculiarly charming lustre to the inlay not obtainable with any other material. Both wood and xylonite may be used in forming the same inlay, and many beautiful effects may be obtained by doing so. Xylonite is comparatively unknown among marquetry-cutters, except in the form of imitation ebony, but there are great capabilities in it. For amateurs, from the ease with which
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132                          FRETWORK AND MARQUETRY.
it can be worked, we know of no more suitable material, while from an artistic point of view it is equal to any. The "ivory grain," either for plain or engraved inlays in imitation of real ivory, we specially commend. Thicknesses of xylonite are most manageable when stuck together with glued paper instead of pins or wire nails, though these may be used if preferred. Real mother-of-pearl may be sawn through in one thickness more easily than in several, and this also applies to other very hard materials. When more than one thickness is used, as it may be, the pieces are fastened together with glue and paper, and to lubricate the saw greased paper may be put between them and a waste bit of wood, which, however, cannot always be fastened down easily, so that a lubricator cannot be relied on. There is no satisfactory imitation of mother-of-pearl.
When the ground of a panel is dark and the pattern is dupli­cated to form the complete design, it may often be cut in half, so that both sides are sawn at the same time. This method will be found useful when only one or two inlays of the same design are wanted, as the four thicknesses can be sawn through with a con­siderable reduction in the quantity of waste. If when sawing the ground into halves the line of the figuring be followed to some extent, the join where they are put together again on the com­pleted work will be scarcely perceptible. This applies with special force to rosewood, for there are often such strong markings in it that the saw cut may be completely lost in them. Thus far only the sawing or cutting of inlays has been mentioned, and a very im­portant part of the work, viz., making up and joining the various pieces with the attendant operations necessary to make them usable, has to be considered and will be found in detail in the next chapter.

 

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