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  HOME TECHNIQUES INTARSIA Sanding Your Intarsia Pieces

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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 visibility

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.

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Raising/Lowering Pieces:
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.


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Plan #0104

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Intarsia Tip:

If you number each piece on your master pattern, and then as you cut them out transfer the piece number to the back side of the cutout, you'll find you spend less time trying to figure out where everything goes.

Right off the bat, you'll know what is the right side and what is the back side, just by seeing the location of the #.




© theWoodbox.com Jan 2007