What is Marquetry?

To become a marquetarian is a rewarding experience. It is both mind challenging and patience teaching..

    If you have asked yourself that question after one of my previous blogs when I had listed my hobbies, here is the answer.


Marquetry is an interesting and creative art-form which is as old as antiquity.   By definition, it is an inlay of wood veneers, approximately 1/28th of an inch thick.

A pattern may be taken from a replica of work of art, from a sketch, from a photograph, or from a simple line drawing in a coloring book. In most cases the pattern will need to be ‘enhanced’ to provide for shaded and detailed areas.

Once the selection has been made it is traced onto a sheet of tracing paper or plastic and later to the largest piece of veneer to be used in the picture, which will also serve as the background  A variety of smaller pieces are then worked into the large piece.

The drawing is followed in a sequence, adding them from the back to the front, thereby covering each hole to insert the next veneer.by the use of a scroll saw, a knife, or a fret saw (an elongated U-shaped saw). One by one the pieces are edge glued into place.  When the veneer picture has been completed, it is mounted (glued) onto a board which is covered with veneer on back and sides to prevent the board from warping.

If the description of the process of creating a marquetry picture sounds simplistic, it is not.  It is mystifying and rewarding.  The craftsmen and women are challenged into selecting the right veneers to produce a look of texture, and the right tones of wood to produce depth and contrast. A variety of subjects may be chosen such as rural scenes, portraits, animals, houses, boats or geometric designs called parquetry.  Color is added (sparingly) by the use of dyed woods, In fact, marquetry purists frown on the use of dyed veneers, relying on hundreds of natural veneers to achieve a pleasing picture.