Much of my work involves marquetry; recently I have become interested in the Japanese art of Yosegi Zaiku. This process involves slicing thin sheets of marquetry off of thicker blocks of either end grain or face grain wood. The resulting veneers although quite thin are successfully used in boxes and furniture. A short video can be seen here [http://www.youtube.com/user/GucciJapanHand]. Click on link below.
A book has been written about this art form by Sano bijutsuken, [ISBN 4915857484, 9784915857485]. Although this book is listed by Amazon it doesn’t seem to be available for sale in the U.S. Does anyone know what type of Japanese plane he is using (blade angle)? Does anyone know how to get a book from Japan?
Also, If they can do this with a hand plane, what would it take to build a hand operated veneer slicer? Say one that could slice veneers off of a blank of exotic wood? It would make a lot more veneer than you would get from a band saw. I can picture a carriage to hold the blank with the grain running the same way as a fixed blade,( like a commercial veneer slicer) which could be accurately raised and forced into the blade (with chipbreaker?) with hand turned screws like those used on work bench vices or veneer presses. I have seen videos of motorized equipment that does this ( super-surfacers or the Marunaka slicer). Think this could be done? What would be the angle of the blade? Of course I would like to be able to make extra thick marquetry then slice it into veneer. The Japanese do this, but they are probably a lot smarter than us!
I think it would be problematic to do this in hardwoods because you would be using dried wood. By nature some of them will be very dense (brittle) and it would take an extremely sharp blade. I remember slicing end grain in wood identification class of various hardwoods to get a clean surface to look at the pores of the wood.
If you are going with the grain it would be a little easier but still difficult. Veneers when they are produced are made from green wood (not dried). The moisture in the wood makes it pliable and cooking the lumber/logs also helps to soften the wood to make it easier to slice or peel.
I will take a look at the video and see if there is something else they are doing that makes it easier.
John, thanks for posting! I think you just saved me some aggravation. I never knew veneer was sliced green! I can imagine keeping it flat and avoiding sticker stain while drying it is tricky. Band saw waste is acceptable for basic veneer stock.
The real benefit to me is if I could create usable veneer from completed marquetry. The sheets created by Yousegi Zaiku are very thin (.15mm) . One account says that they have to be first ironed flat, and on video shows them being applied to a box with a technique similar to hammer veneering. One writer says hide glue is used, but the glue shown in the videos is very white.
And Robert, another valuable post. I looked a this site quickly and think it will be helpful, especially because some posters are Japanese.
I believe the craft is called izimuya, and is one of the crafts that Japan seeks to preserve by encouraging the practice and teaching of the craft to the next generation, like sword making, indigo fabric dyeing and others. It may be that izimuya refers more to the puzzle boxes that display the method you mention, rather than the method itself.
A Google search of izimuya will turn up lots of hits that include puzzle boxes and links from there to some famous makers, etc.
As I read about this years ago, the woods are dyed, then shaped into solid blocks that have the pattern and then sliced with very sharp special planes. I believe I read that a rice based glue was used to attach the ultra thin sheets, as in shojii panel paper attachment.
My small collection of puzzle boxes easily show how thin the sheets of assembled, dyed woods are, being nearly transparent at a corner or two.
The Japanese do like their planes sharp - see the link below.
Amazingly enough I have recently talked to two furniture makers one who has written articles for Fine Woodworking Magazine and one who paid to apprentice with George Nakashima, that have advised me that it's not that easy to get a hand plane sharp enough to do what he is doing in the video, and that the plane iron would probably cost $800.00. It obviously is possible thought, maybe someday,
The guy who worked with George Nakashima said he thinks the adhesive is fish glue.
Regarding the laser, the short answer is the common laser ( Epilog type and others) found at any laser engraving shop is accurate enough and the lower power is an advantage.
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