Published by Gekko Timbers, Publishing Division, Mail Service 142, Byfield QLD 4703.
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 92
Intarsia (making pictures with wood) is rapidly growing in popularity, for a number of good reasons - for instance, it requires a relatively minimal investment in equipment, and utilises small amounts of timber compared to other woodworking activities, such as furniture making or turning.
In response to the overwhelming number of people seeking general instructions in Intarsia, the very talented Intarsia artist Steve Bundred - who has been selling his Intarsia plans and demonstrating the craft at woodworking shows for the past few years - has put together a book called Intarsia down under. Aside from answering a lot of common questions, Bundred shows the reader how to make nine of his more popular projects.
It's an attractive book in full colour, with lots of good photographs (and we mean lots!). The author definitely believes in the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this instance it works.
The two opening projects, 'Flying Kanga' and 'Koala Dad', are designed to take the absolute beginner step-by-step through the process of cutting, sanding and matching each piece in sequence, gluing up on the backing board and finishing.
The remaining projects scattered throughout the book include a Koala Mum and Baby, a Reclining Kanga (after a hard day's hopping), a Swaggy, Bikie, Egret Mirror, a Walla Bee (sic) and a Sailboard with sailboarder. The instructions focus on specific new techniques, highlighting details of the process that may be unusual or challenging.
Early on in the book, the author examines the fundamental question of whether a scrollsaw or bandsaw is the better machine for cutting the pieces that make up Intarsia. Not only does he make good arguments for both machines, but he then goes on to instruct the reader how to make the most of either one. The best selection depends on the size of work you intend to do, and your budget. Other fundamental issues surrounding these two machines include blade selection, the use of table inserts on the bandsaw and types of blade guides.
Timber is, of course, the raw material from which lntarsia projects are made. The author does a great job of presenting the various sources of timber, and how to go about getting the best for less. He then goes on to explain how to select the right piece for the particular project, examining qualities such as colour, contrast and grain. Since very dark and very light colours are the hardest to obtain, there are a few tricks he shares with the reader for transforming the natural colour of the timber to one that is more suitable for the purpose at hand. These methods include bleaching and ebonising.
Safety aspects of making Intarsia are no different than any other form of woodworking, and the author briefly outlines his strategies for minimising danger, which include wearing eye and ear protection at all times. After cutting out, sanding is the main technique used to shape and give contour to the pieces of timber. The book covers all types of sanding tool, including solid and pneumatic drum sanders and flap sanders, along with alternate hand and mechanical shaping tools.
The final step in any woodworking process involves applying a finish. The choice between oils and polishes (wax and oil blends), or lacquers is presented, and the various advantages explained. The author provides several recipes for home made polishes and oil finishes which are perfectly suitable for the job, and easy to make.
All the project plans are printed on white backgrounds for easy photocopying. Part sizes, shape and grain direction are provided, along with instructions for enlargement were applicable.
Starting with the simple projects at the beginning, and building up to the more challenging ones towards the end, readers will develop a huge range of Intarsia skills, and have a lot of fun along the way. The author's humour and easy-going writing style guarantee a pain free learning process!
Units of Measurement: Metric & Imperial
introduction to Intarsia
Saw is Best
Timber is best?
a Hard Days Hopping