Marquetry is a craft which requires very little in the way of space and a few tools as well. As for materials, most marquetry kits come complete with all the necessary veneers, a back board for mounting the work, and two copies of a pattern. In addition to this, one must acquire on one's own, a few other items for completing the work.
To begin with, one should have a cutting board at least 12" x 12"; somewhat larger would be better if larger pictures are contemplated. The purpose of this board is to provide a work surface on which veneers may be cut without damaging the kitchen table, or wherever else one happens to be working. On the cutting board, it is suggested that a piece of cardboard be used, such as the back of a writing pad. This is optional, but its use will help to prolong the life of the cutting blade.
Next is the cutting knife. The X-Acto knifes are recommended, although any other having sharp pointed blades, and being easy to handle will do. With the X-Acto knife, the #11 or #24 blades are best. Exactly which of the two will depend on the type of knife which is selected. An ordinary pencil is required, along with a piece of carbon paper, preferably a pencil carbon. This is used for tracing the pattern to be cut onto the wood veneers. As the various pieces are cut from the veneers, they should be assembled and held in place with cellophane tape.
Once the pattern has been completely cut out and assembled in one piece, it is necessary for the assembly to be glued to the back board. Either white glue or contact cement may be used for this. The contact cement does have the advantage of not requiring clamping or pressing while the glue dries. On the other hand, one must exercise care with the contact cement in aligning the two pieces carefully before they are permitted to touch. Once the two glued surfaces make contact, they cannot be moved again.
To finish the picture, two grades of sandpaper are required: first a medium grit and then a fine grit. A small piece of wood, about 2" by 3" makes an excellent sanding block. Once the picture has been well sanded to a smooth finish, and dusted clear of loose particles, an application of Tung Oil or Boiled Linseed Oil may be rubbed on using lint-free cloth.
In summary, aside from the marquetry kit itself, one will need the following items:
This then is marquetry from start to finish, - but is it? Certainly there is everything needed to produce many fine pictures. However, some will want to go on from there, designing their own pictures, stocking their own varieties of wood veneers, and trying various methods of cutting. They will invent their own little jigs and gadgets, as well as try some fret saw cutting, sand shading or other finishes. These are some of the different aspects of marquetry to be explored by those wishing to do so.
Marquetry is no longer the intricate artistic skill of a very few. Improvements in cutting gluing and finishing materials have facilitated its growth. Simplified techniques and available supplies have accelerated its acceptance by people of nearly all ages, both men and women. As you progress it may bring out some hidden talents you never knew you possessed, for marquetry is a combination of craftsmanship and artistry.