Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme

The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is the world’s leading youth achievement award, giving millions of 14 to 24-year-olds the opportunity to be the very best they can be.

During the next three months I am running a workshop to teach two young teenage students (Jack and Alex) the art and craft of marquetry. Any form of art and craft form part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, which both students are competing in. The scheme examines not only the physical attributes of young people, but also their constructive and creative talents. I look forward to the challenge and I’m delighted to get back into the teaching mode. Jack and Alex each want to make a gallery tray with marquetry added, but that will be saved until another year when they have learned the basic skills surrounding the veneers and tools. I intend to monitor their work, not just to show visitors to the website what they have designed and achieved, but as a record of their skills to show the scheme’s adjudicators how they managed the work.

Keep tabs on this page over the next three months. Posted October 2015

Project 1 A Personalised Place Mat – November 2015

The bronze award, which Jack and Alex are currently in for their first year, has made us realise that we need not jump into the craft with two feet. Instead of attempting the challenging gallery tray this year, we decided to make a personalised table mat, which would allow a mixture of both established and personal designs, while allowing both students to get used to handling the tools and materials. The gallery tray will still be an option for later levels of the scheme.

December 2015  – Alex’s first marquetry

Alex cutting a corner fan using the template method

Alex cutting a corner fan using the template method







Side 1 complete, showing corner fans and small picture of a sea, land scape, with Newcastle football shirt inserted. All bordered and mitred accurately.


Sea and land scape with shirt inserted.







December 2015 – Jack’s first marquetry

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Jack cutting in his name into the quilted red veneer


Almost complete. two matching corner fans set into mitred borders accurately cut.

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Close up of letters viewed from the reverse side.








A good start by both students. We’ll get together in the New Year and decorate the other side of the mat. Perhaps have a go at parquetry?


10th January 2016 – Jack’s Parquetry work building Louis Cube design –

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Jack elected to construct the Louis Cube design as shown in his copy of The Marquetry Course. He chose three contrasting veneers to form the cubes; sycamore, mahogany and silver/grey harewood. Jack makes easy work of cutting the strips using his marquetry cutting board and cutting mat. See strips already cut on the left.  Prior to cutting each strip, Jack makes a pencil line down the face side of each strip. This ensures the cubes are built from the same sides, such that the grain directions are maintained in the correct orientation.


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The mitre box is a simple jig allowing veneers to be cut to a pre-determined angle, in this case 60 degrees. The red mahogany ‘stop’ is held in place with a G clamp,and the two outer rails either side of the stop, have a cut which allowed the Gents pad-saw with its ultra fine blade to cut through the veneers below.

The Mitre box features in The Marquetry Course book with full detailed construction advise.

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By holding 4 strips together with masking tape on one end, Jack was able to cut through multiple strips with one sawing.

Assembling the cubes commence next week.


10th January 2016  Alex’s parquetry work – building basket weave design 

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Alex cut strips of boxwood 32mm wide, with the grain running across the width. Each strip then sand shaded along both long edges.  Note the use of long tweezers to stop burnt fingers. Silver sand is used as it does not stick to the veneer, because its gritty and unlike building sand, does not clog.


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Using two 6mm spacers and the marquetry cutting board, Alex is able to cut the sand shaded strips accurately. Note the stock pile to the right with narrow ends sand shaded. Boxwood is an ideal veneer for sand shading and was a favourite during the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The basket weave design is built from the centre outwards, towards the four edges of the board

Sticky-back-plastic is spread across the MDF board, which will become the table mat. The protective plastic paper is used to stop users hands from touching the sticky film below.  Co-ordinates are drawn across the board with pencil and ruler to divide the MDF into equal quarters. Here Alex begins building the design from the centre.


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The panel almost covered with strips of basket weave . The inter-woven effect is clearly showing, thanks to the sand shading which provides the all-important 3D effect.

Next week Alex will fill the gaps between the weave with a contrasting mahogany veneer.


January 17th 2016 – Alex’s basket weave

Alex adds the infill mahogany veneers into the basket weave pattern.

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The infill begins to add the final effect and give the design depth.

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Almost complete and very effective parquetry work, well executed by Alex

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January 17th 2016 – Jack’s Louis Cube assembly 

Jack begins to build the Louis Cube design, starting at the centre of the panel, which is covered by a sheet of sticky-back-plastic. The backing sheet prevents Jack from touching the sticky sheet.

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The design builds and the 3D effect is created. A point to note here. Had Jack used just one veneer to build the cubes, the same 3D effect would show because the secret of the cube design is that the grain on each of the three sides is facing in a different direction. This is achieved because Jack drew a pencil line down each strip before they were sawn on the mitre box. The pencil line is just visible on the white side of the cubes above.

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The plastic’s shiny surface makes photography challenging, but sufficient clarity shows the cubes developing.  The cubes are accurately sawn and assembled by Jack.


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April 2016 – Bronze award class completed

I’m delighted to show you the final contributions of both marquetry and parquetry created and displayed by Jack and Alex for their D of E  Bronze class award.  They have both shown great dexterity in dealing with materials and specialist tools, that until now, were new to them.  I hope you will agree with me that these place mats are both appealing in there creativity as well as inspirational for other a take up this absorbing craft.

I look forward, with relish, to continue encouraging their creative talents when they move  towards silver then gold classes over the next two years.

Jack’s completed place mat.

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First layer of polish brings out the true colours of the veneers. The unpolished area looking like a ‘negative’ in old photography terms.

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Accurate knife work on the letters, fans and mitres. Choice of woods complement the overall impression.

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The cubes are well executed with use of the mitre box , seen earlier, and the design balances well across the mat. A difficult first entry into parquetry work, demonstrates Jack’s ability of alignment.

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A landscape view shows the cubes in their stepped 3 dimensional view, and emphasises Jack’s creative talents.

Alex’s completed place mat

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The central feature is a land and seascape picture, drawn by Alex and includes the Newcastle United football team’s shirt. The place mat is a present for his Grandad, who is a stanched Newcastle supporter. The knife work is exceptional and choice of woods complement the overall theme.

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Close-up of the artistic scene showing sea and mountains. The shirt truly matches the clubs colours.

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Basket weave showing the required rustic appearance, and delicate sand shading to the weave segments add the perfect 3 Dimensional impression. The choice of Mazur Birch veneer for the outer border complements the theme perfectly.  Very well executed throughout for a first attempt at this challenging craft work.

Jack’s Bronze entry complete



Alex’s Bronze entry complete



…. My congratulations and thanks to both Jack and Alex on completing their bronze awards, and first attempt at this craft. I look forward to the silver class, which commences  this Autumn.

Well done from

Jack M!

August 2016