Wood has been a popular material for many years. Artists have always found ways to make wood products more attractive, and one of the methods utilized is a technique known as marquetry.
Marquetry uses a thin wood veneer of varying colors to create an intricate design on a piece of furniture or an art installation. While traditional marquetry pieces were created by hand, laser cutting offers the unique opportunity to create marquetry pieces for quickly and efficiently.
1. Start With a Clean Design
Laser cutting can greatly reduce the amount of time required to create a marquetry piece, but it can come with some limitations. The laser may have a difficult time navigating extremely tight spaces. This makes it difficult to generate sharp points in your design. You need to consider the limitations of the laser when creating the initial design for the marquetry piece so that you will end up with a product that is functional and beautiful.
2. Allow for the Kerf
Cutting wood veneer with a laser is much different than cutting the veneer by hand. The laser will waste a tiny bit of material as it completes each cut. This wasted material is commonly referred to as the kerf. You must factor in the kerf when designing your marquetry piece. If you don't leave a margin of error in your design to allow for the kerf, you will end up with small gaps between each piece of veneer once the marquetry design has been assembled.
The dimensions of your design can be adjusted in a CAD software program prior to being sent to the laser to ensure that kerf doesn't negatively affect the final aesthetic of your marquetry piece.
3. Protect the Veneer
Wood veneer is very thin. While this characteristic makes veneer the perfect medium for creating marquetry pieces, it also means that the surface of the veneer is subject to scorching during the laser process. To ensure that scorch marks don't interfere with your final design, you can create a mirror image of the design in a CAD software program. This allows you to protect the front of the veneer with tape while the laser cuts into the backside surface.
Once you flip the veneer piece over and remove the tape, you will have a clean marquetry design that is free from any visible scorch marks that can be left behind by the laser cutting process.