Tracing Your Intarsia Pattern
Using Carbon Paper:
If you can see through your paper (ie. if its printed on vellum)
use the pattern's directional arrows to line up the piece with the
wood grain. Hold one corner of the pattern down, slip carbon paper
under the section you are trying to trace, tape or pin down the
carbon and pattern, and then using a coloured pen, carefully trace
around the shape.
If you decide to use pins to hold your pattern in place, make sure
they are located outside the cutting area. You do not want pin holes
in the middle of your good pieces.
Lift one corner of the pattern, leaving some of the pins or tape
in place, and check to see if you have in fact traced all the lines
you needed. It is difficult to reposition the pattern, after the
fact, if you discover lines missing. If you think you may use this
pattern numerous times, make a copy via a photocopier or by hand
tracing a duplicate onto standard tracing paper. Generally you do
not want to ruin your original.
Cut Out Method:
This is my personal favourite way to transfer patterns to the wood…
Make a duplicate of your pattern, marking not only the wood colours
but also the grain direction. Use scissors to cut this duplicate
into all its individual pieces. Use an X-Acto blade for long straight
Select the right wood for each piece and with spray adhesive or
a glue stick, apply each pattern piece to the appropriate piece
of wood. Cut out up to the edge of the paper, peal or sand the paper
off and check the fit.
The reason why this is my favorite method, is that if you cut off
the line of the paper pattern by accident, the piece to the left
and to the right of the scissors are equally affected. All your
pieces will still fit accurately together, albeit on a slightly
On the other hand, using the tracing method, if you wobble while
tracing one piece and then trace accurately when tracing the matching
piece, they won't fit together. Tracing the shared border is not
done along "exactly" the same path in both instances and your accuracy
is sabotaged before you even begin to cut.
Patterns for Sale by site owners
If you are going to use a particular pattern frequently AND the
pattern is not too complex, cut yourself a template. Clear 1/16"
plexiglass works fairly well and allows you to see through the template
to orient each piece with the grain. Often sign shops will give
you their cutoff pieces of plexiglass for nothing…. Just ask!
I've also photocopied plans onto heavy weight mylar, with some
success. The minus, is that the mylar is not as rigid to trace around
as is the plexiglass….. the plus is that you can cut out the individual
pieces with a sharp pair of scissors and guarantee absolute fitting
accuracy of all your template pieces. It is also very fast to make
a template this way.
Caution: Make sure that your photocopier can handle the mylar without
causing problems (either because of weight or heat).
For more suggestions on transferring your pattern to the wood,
see the scroll saw section…..