MARQUETRY, or work, is a curious work composed of several fine hard pieces of wood, of various colours, fastened in thin slices on a ground, and sometimes enriched with other matters, as silver, brass, tortoise-shell, and ivory ; with these assistances, the art is now ca pable of imitating any thing ; whence it is by some called the art of painting in wood.
The ground on which the pieces are to be arranged and glued, is usually of well dried oak or deal, and is composed of se veral pieces glued together, to prevent its warping. The wood to be used in marquetry is reduced into leaves, of the thickness of a line, or the. twelfth part of an inch, and is either of its natural co. lour, or stained, or made black, to form the shades by other methods : this some perform by putting it in sand heated very hot over the fire : others by steeping it in lime water and sublimate ; and others in oil of sulphur. The wood being of the proper colours, the contours of the pieces are formed according to the parts of the design they are to represent : this is the most difficult part of marquetry, and that which requires the most patience and at tention.
The leaves to be formed, of which there are frequently three, four, or more joined together, are, after they have been glued on the outermost part of the de sign, whose profile they are to follow, put within the chaps of the vice ; then the workman pressing the treddle, and thus holding fast the piece, with his saw runs over all the outlines of his design.
By thus joining or forming three or four pieces together, not only time is saved, but also the matter is the better enabled to sustain the effort of the saw, which, how fine soever it may be, and how slightly soever it may be conducted by the workman, except this precaution were taken, would be apt to raise splin ters, and ruin the beauty of the work. All the pieces having been thus formed by the saw, and marked, in order to their being known again, each is veneered, or fastened in its place, on the common ground, with the best English glue ; and this being done, the whole is set in a press to dry, planed over, and polished with the skin of the sea•dog, wax, and shave grass, as in simple veneering, and the fine branches and more delicate parts of the figures are touched up and finished with a graver.