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Making an Intarsia Panel from Plywood

By: Erich Lage
Here's a creative use for Baltic birch plywood.

Making an intarsia panel

There are a lot of pieces required to make the intarsia panel for the spice cabinet door. And they’re small pieces to boot. So I decided to cut all the strips out of one oversized blank. This accomplishes two things. Coming from one blank, all the pieces will be uniform in thickness. The length of the blank lets me dial in minor blade adjustments on the front end where I’ve drawn the layout of the pieces. Any false starts (score marks on the end of the blank ) can be trimmed away once the strips are glued together.

Intarsia detail a

To start, I tilted the blade to 45° and set the proper distance for the first cut (detail ‘a’). Set aside the cut off piece for the moment.

Details ‘b’ and ‘c’ show cutting free the two strips needed to make the ‘H’ and ‘F’ parts of the panel.

Intarsia details c and d

In detail ‘d’ you’ve brought back the first strip that you cut free to make part ‘G.’ To make the last part, spin the board end for end as you see in detail ‘e.’ The next page shows how to glue up the strips.

intarsia detail e

Glue Up the Strips

Intarsia fig 1

Figure 1 shows how to bring the strips together. When the strips are dry, it’s time to head to the band saw. You want to slice each strip slightly thicker than 3⁄4". This provides extra material to sand the back side smooth before gluing up the columns you see in Figure 2. And some material to sand the top of the panel smooth after you glue the columns together.

Intarsia figure 2

Intarsia segments

Published: July 26, 2022
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