Alan and Gill Bridgewater


This is another excellent book to get started with if you are interested in developing your skills as a marqueter. It has a good introduction to the history and origins of marquetry, plus a list of tools to get started. I donít think I had any other tools when I started as a teenager many years ago.

The book includes a comprehensive glossary of terms with some excellent diagrams. (I have an extended glossary on another page.)

The basic design of the book takes you through a series of projects. It starts you on a parquetry design which helps to get you using most of the necessary techniques to complete your first project. The second project introduces the curved shapes so you have to develop more free hand cutting of the curved shapes without the aid of a ruler. It also introduces you to the "window" method of pictorial marquetry. I use this method mostly for a number of reasons, but the main one being is that it gives me the most control as to how the picture is developing, particularly the shading and the direction of the grain. The following projects continue with these ideas plus introducing the use of the fret saw for cutting.

Chapter 5 introduces you to your first compete Marquetry picture. It provides a step by step instruction on how to start and finish the project. This represents a good starting point if you have no other alternatives available to you. It is a good starter piece in as much as it does not have any complicated cutting requirements. It deals with only the simplest finishing techniques to complete the project. You will find that as you progress you will be exposed to additional techniques of surface finishing and framing. The project on decorating a jewel box introduces the very useful technique of sand shading. This you will find is used extensively in some of the more advanced and detailed pictorial marquetry pieces.

There are more application projects which is then followed by chapter 12 on decorating picture frame moldings. Up until now, if I have framed a piece of work I have always purchased the complete moldings. However, they are very expensive (at least in Canada) plus this is one of the hot topics of debate. Some people argue that a frame detracts from the veneers in the picture. Others say it enhances the picture, complementing or emphasizing a particular veneer in the picture. The end result either way, is very dependent on the individual looking at the piece and art is very personal.

If having made some progress through these projects and you are feeling you would like more of a challenge then the project described in chapter 13 is a good one. However, rather than making a fire-screen you can make it into a picture. (I think fire-screens have gone out of fashion these days.) There are many examples of floral pictures, motifs and boarders and this project serves as a good introduction.

Finally, at the end of the book there are more examples of designs that you could use to complete more pictorial marquetry pieces.

Alan and Gill produced this book in 1991, so it is reasonably current and serves as a good introduction to some of the basic techniques of marquetry and inlay. If you start with this you may find that you will struggle with veneer selection which will become more important to you as time goes on, A better place to begin would be with a kit where the veneers are already pre-selected for you. You will be more happy with the completed project and thereby more motivated to go on to your next project.

In the Suppliers section, I have listed a number of places that will supply kits of pictures with veneers pre-selected. I donít recommend the pre-cut kits as you will miss out on the best part of the work. One word of caution though, you should be aware that this is a very time consuming craft and art form. It is probably on of the main reasons why very few people in the world continue to produce marquetry pieces. From my perspective this just make me more determined to master the art of marquetry because of its UNIQUENESS.


The art of using Marquetry and inlay to decorate wood and other objects is centuries old. Marquetry and inlay-- the insertion of fine woods anti decorative veneers into finished surfaces - are techniques that are making a comeback among woodworking craftsmen today

Now you can do your own Marquetry and inlay with this latest book from Alan and Gill Bridgewater: Packed with a with variety of decorative projects, Marquetry and Inlay is fully illustrated with step-by-step directions, including an explanation of the techniques, materials list, working grids, an evaluation of the design, and a conclusion of helpful "hints" for each project Youíll be able to create unique designs on many household items, including:

The authors also provide a special section of patterns to inspire you to create other projects on your own, as well as a completely illustrated glossary that defines terms, wood types, and various marquetry and inlay techniques.

Regardless of your level of skill, you'll be able to add style and glamour to and simple craft worked in wood by using the easy and inexpensive techniques found in Marquetry and Inlay

About the Authors:

Frequent contributors to woodworking magazines. Alan and Gill Bridgewater ale internationally recognized authorities on wood crafting. Their other books for TAB include:

ISBN 0-8306-3426-6


Marquetry and inlay were inspired by the ancient craft of intarsia - the making of decorative and pictorial mosaics by the inlaying of precious and exotic material into or onto a groundwork of solid wood.

Three thousand or so years ago, the Egyptians decorated much of their woodwork with inlay. In fact, in the tomb of the Pharaoh King Tutankhamon, the throne, chest, coffers, and nearly all the furniture are literally covered with inlay (FIG. I-1), Precious stones, miniature glazed tiles, and little brickets of wood, gold and ivory wonderfully embellished items of special prestigious and ceremonial importance.

In the Orient--in Persia, India, China and Japan--inlay workers created all sorts of decorative delights, from complex wood parquetry designs set into floors to wood mosaics on walls and furniture, to small inlay picture designs on boxes, caskets, tombs, reliquaries and ceremonial regalia. All uniquely beautiful, and all fabulously expensive in terms of time, labor and cost of materials. Through the centuries, in ancient Egypt, Imperial Rome, Persia, eighth-century Japan, and sixteenth-century Italy and Germany, rich patrons employed inlay craftsmen to create beautiful works of art (FIG. 1-2). The process was both expensive and painstaking because, traditionally, the craft involved many long steps: importing rare and exotic hardwoods; slowly carving, lowering, and trenching a groundwork; sawing and slicing the small amount of difficult-to-cut, expensive hardwood into 1/4-1/2-inch-thick tiles; fitting and setting the mosaic tiles into a bed of glue or mastic, one piece at a time; and then finally scraping, rubbing down, waxing, and burnishing the inlay surface.

And so it might have continued, had not an anonymous German clockmaker invented the jigsaw blade near the end of the sixteenth century. The blade made possible new mass-production methods. No longer was the craft slow and prohibitively expensive, nor was it greedily gobbling up vast amounts of rare exotic woods. With the revolutionary fast-moving, frame-held saw blade, it was possible to double, triple and even quadruple production simply by repeatedly cutting the expensive slab woods into thinner and thinner sheets. Better still, it was also possible to sandwich stacks of veneers together and cut six or so designs all at once.

As they say, the rest is all history. From the seventeenth century (FIG. 1-3) right through to the end of the nineteenth century, tools improved, and techniques became increasingly swifter and more refined. By the end of the nineteenth century, thin inlay veneer, or marquetry as it had now come to be called, was an extremely popular and accessible form of furniture decoration (FIGS. 1-4 and 1-5). The early twentieth century heralded a revival of interest in special high-quality, exotic wood inlays and marquetries, with designers, hobbyists and artists creating pieces considered works of art in their own right (FIG. I-6).

I sometimes look at my collection of veneers and miserly marvel at the colors, the uniquely beautiful grain patterns, and the rich aromas. I get a great deal of pleasure from handling the precious woods and reading off the wonderfully evocative names and descriptions: Rich, brown ebony from the Celebes Islands, blood-red padouk from the Andaman Islands, red pau rosa from West Africa, primavera from Central America, satinwood, teak, tola and zebrano--all pure poetry. Each name evokes storybook pictures of teak forests, Burmese elephants hauling trees, huge river rafts of logs, and jungle saw mills.

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