Sanding & Profiling Your Intarsia Pieces
I have found the best tool to sand, is with a table mounted disc/belt
sander. You can round corners easily with the disc and maintain
the 90 degree cut by balancing your piece firmly on the side table.
Use the belt sander component, when it is important to sand with
the grain, but again be careful to sand square. Use the drum end
of the belt sander, to sand inside cuts.
When you really need soft curves and dips a pneumatic drum sander
works beautifully. A sand paper sleeve is fitted over a rubber drum
that is then filled with air. The drums are flexible (adjust the
air pressure inside) and allow for smooth sanding around corners
and inside gentle radii. Usually you work on the underside of the
drum so that it pulls down onto the wood. This also allows for great
You can get sanding drums that chuck into a drill press or mount
onto an independent motor. I have found that they have limited applications
in Intarsia. The radius is set, and rarely the one you need, and
the backing material is very rigid and without very careful useage
tends to leave scalloped sanding marks.
Frequently I'll use a Dremel Style tool for beveling tight corners,
and cleaning up inside edges. The little sanding wheels are finished
almost before you chuck them in the holder, but the small oval grinding
wheels work wonderfully. Just watch when grinding across the grain,
in very coarse woods, that the knife edges do not tear out the fibre.
Other than that I've been using the same cutter for the last year.
Wood Files can be used to add crease lines to your work, especially
where you are trying to simulate folds in clothing. They are also
great for bevelling edges of hard coarse woods that take forever
with sand paper and like to tear out with a Dremel tool.
Sanding Multiple Pieces:
Often you have parts of a project that are cut as individual pieces,
but need to be sanded as one unit (ie. The roof and window frames
on the old car, both of which you want to taper to the back). The
trick here is to use double sided tape and tape the pieces onto
a similarly shaped piece of scrap plywood. The plywood will hold
them together so they can be sanded as one.
Use tape between adjoining pieces when extra holding strength is
needed. Be cautious when you remove them from the plywood that small
pieces are not broken in the process.
Patterns for Sale by site owners
Sometimes character can be added to your work, by raising the level
of some parts above the general height. The easiest way to do this,
is to add extra thicknesses of wood underneath the original cut
pieces. For internal pieces this works beautifully, but be cautious
on pieces of the puzzle that have exposure on the outside edge.
The build up wood will show if you use a different species or mismatch
the grain. In this case it is better to start with a thicker piece
of wood in the first place.
In deciding which pieces should come forward, visualize the item
you are cutting and think through what parts would be closest to
you, if you were standing beside it in real life. The same pieces
should be thicker in your Intarsia. Thicker if they are close to
you, thinner as they move into the distance.
For any pieces that you wish to recess, it is easy enough to sand
the back to reduce the overall thickness. Often this implies tapering
a piece, thicker on one side thinning down to less than, at the
other end (front bumper of the car). Again, I remind you to taper
the pieces from the front, NOT THE BACK, or your piece will not
sit straight, and your fit will be thrown off.
Adjust the thicknesses of the pieces gradually, taking the time
to layup your pattern on an ongoing basis. It is easier to take
more wood off, then add thickness. Fine sand everything, checking
for cross grain scratches……. And you're for the final assembly.