Canadian Woodworking


Author: Garnet Hall
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: August September 2007

One of the most distinctive bird calls is that of the Chickadee. It’s wonderful to hear them calling “Chick-a-Dee-Dee-Dee” to each other as you walk through the woods.

There are two species of chickadees found just about everywhere across Canada – the Boreal Chickadee and the Black Capped Chickadee. Both have a characteristic dark cap and bib with white cheeks. They don’t mind the company of people and often frequent feeders. They are not overly aggressive and are often in the company of other birds.

Most intarsia projects start with ¾” material, but for these little guys, I used ⅜” stock for the bird in the back and the tree, and ½” stock for the bird in the front. The finished project measures 14″ x 11 ½”, and consists of 59 pieces.

Trace template pieces



Here are some things to keep in mind when working on your project.

• Careful consideration of the colour, texture and pattern of the wood you use in intarsia is important. Most of the colours in this project are straightforward, but shades can vary to some degree. The light, medium or dark shades specified in this project should vary in relation to each other.

• Transfer the pattern to the wood, using either the template or pattern glue-on method.

• For the template method use spray glue to attach the template onto some thin material such as ⅛” MDF. Use the template pieces to trace onto the wood.

• Cut out all the pieces with a thin blade, such as a #0 or #2/0.

• The smaller the kerf the tighter the fit you will get.

• You can also photocopy the pattern, in which case you will need five or six copies.

• Cut the pieces off the pattern and spray glue them onto the wood.

• Take your time when cutting out the pieces on your scroll saw. The more careful you are the better the pieces will fit. The wood you are cutting is thin, so you can use a small blade, #3 DT/R or P/S. You could also go as small as a #1 hook tooth blade. The smaller the kerf the better the fit will be. Make sure your blade is square to the table and follow the line.

• Once you have all the pieces cut out, assemble the project to check the fit. The pieces should fit reasonably well. A business card makes a good gauge for checking the fit between pieces.

• A light box and spindle sander can also be useful for the fitting. I made a simple light box on which I assemble my projects. This enables me to easily see any gaps and mark where I need to sand or cut down a piece.

• There isn’t much raising and lowering in this project. It requires so little material, you can easily size the material before you start. Use a Flex sander to make hand shaping and sanding easier.

• The shaping is a very creative part of any intarsia project. The more effort you put into it the better your project will look. Give the birds and the tree a rounded look. Sanding up to 220 grit is sufficient.

• Use ¼” Baltic birch plywood for the backing.

• Glue the project up using ordinary carpenter’s glue.

• Lightly sand the project, clean off the dust, and then apply at least two coats of your favourite finish (one coat is sufficient for the back of the project). On this project I used Old Masters satin spray finish.

• Attach a hanger and you are done.

Garnet Hall gives readers permission to make up to eight copies of this pattern for personal use and not for resale.


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