WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 33



42” H x 32" W x 15" D Craig Thibodeau San Diego, CA USA

WS: What hand tools do you use most often when working with inlay and decorative elements in a furniture piece?

CT: It really depends on the specific job I’m doing, many of my hand tools are inlay specific whether small chisels I’ve made from jeweler’s files or other more miniature size tools. Quite frequently my inlay work actually starts with a Dremel tool mounted in a special base and fitted with small solid carbide bits. Once the main material removal work is done I break out my miniature chisels and files to do the cleanup work. To cut the inlay materials themselves I actually usually use a scroll saw with a 2/0 blade, reconstituted stone and mother of pearl cut easily enough with slow speed and the right blades. Once the inlay pieces are cut jewelers files do a nice job of cleaning up the cut edges and reshaping profiles. Scalpels are another handy tool to have around as they can be used to scribe around the perimeter of an inlay or to clean up the sharp corners of a routed recess where the router can’t reach.

WS: Have you have mastered marquetry, parquetry and inlay or do you feel you have more to learn?

CT: I’m not sure it’s possible to master any of these techniques actually. I’ve seen work from several marquetry experts in the UK that is many times more complex than my work and would require much more time than I have to dedicate to the work. My marquetry work is what I would describe as a cartoonish representation of flowers; they aren’t meant to look like real flowers or have the subtle complexity of real flowers. They just give the viewer the impression of bright floral arrangements and flowing floral vines. There are many marquetry makers that create designs far more complex and detailed than mine but I have decided on a particular look for my work that at the moment I am content with, perhaps in the future there will be time to learn new techniques with more complexity. The same can be said for parquetry and inlay, I am skilled at the specific work I choose to create but there are many more skills to learn in any of these specific fields. A lifetime could be spend attempting to perfect any of them and I am just at the tip of the iceberg.

Photo by Craig Carlson