Many people aren’t sure what the difference is between Marquetry and Intarsia on the web. We are sure many people have never heard of these terms or who have heard them but don’t know what they mean, so we have written an article explaining these and other related terms.
Veneers are thin slices of wood, usually less than 1/8 inch thick, that are usually glued to wood panels to make the wood look like it has a natural grain or to make the grain of the wood look nice.
An inlay is a decorative method of putting pieces of different veneers into cutouts on the face of a piece of furniture or a wood base. Colored veneers are put into the cutouts of a base piece to make pictures or designs that make a smooth surface.
Parquetry is a type of inlay in which small pieces of wood veneer are used to make a decorative, geometric pattern. Parquetry is used as veneer patterns on furniture and as a block pattern for wood flooring.
Marquetry is made by putting veneers on the front of an object, usually all over its surface. The inlay is done by putting veneers into cutouts on the object’s face, most of which are still visible. In Marquetry, the veneer pieces are used to make patterns, pictures, or designs.
Intarsia can be inlaid wood or put on top of something like Marquetry. Intarsia is usually used to decorate furniture, but it can also be used as a piece of art on its own or to cover an entire face of a piece. Intarsia doesn’t use veneers. Instead, it uses pieces of wood that are cut and shaped to make the design. Some pieces of wood are used to raise or lower parts of the design to make it look more three-dimensional.
For intarsia, you need different kinds and colors of wood that are all different. The color of wood grains, structure, and direction make a piece stand out. No stain or paint is used; the color and grain pattern come from different types of wood. Intarsia pieces are one-of-a-kind because of this. Even if you use the same pattern, the unique wood pieces will make the result look different.
A lot of the confusion comes from the fact that the word “wood” is used both as a design term and a woodworking term. The inlay can describe both the finished design and how the veneers are put together. Parquetry uses the same techniques as inlay, but the way it is put together differs.
Marquetry borrows some of its design ideas from the inlay and some of its veneers but not its way of working with wood. Intarsia doesn’t use veneers. Instead, it uses either the inlay woodworking techniques or the non-inlay woodworking techniques of Marquetry. It also uses some of Marquetry’s design techniques but has ways of working with and using contour wood pieces.