Revolutionising Woodworking one Stitch at a Time

Ever tried to draw up a hexagon?  No, it shouldn’t be hard (any 4th grader probably does it on a daily basis), but if you haven’t done it for a while, you start to forget the technique for getting all the sides even, and the angles correct.  How about a pentagon, or a dodecagon?

What about getting the pentagon to align up accurately with a particular feature in a veneer, or finding the centre of an uneven turning blank?

For many woodworkers, these are probably not questions we’ve contemplated often (other than finding the centre of a blank), however, it is the bread and butter of embroiders, patchworkers, and quilters (other than finding the centre of a blank). So it would come as no surprise that a great solution for woodworkers can be found being made by a company called The Sewing Revolution!

They produce a number of different polycarbonate templates, but the primary two are the company’s namesake.

The Sewing Revolution

The Sewing Revolution

There is the one pictured here (which is a 6/8), and another which is the 5/7.

The numbers equate to the number of sides the template is designed to create, including multiples, and derivatives. Ie, the 6/8 can also create 3 and 4 sided figures, as well as 12 and 16.

The 5/7 is also for 10 and 14 sided.

At each junction, the template has a hole for a pencil, or an awl to mark each corner. Of course you are not limited to basic polygons either.  Creating an 8 pointed star for example is also very simple with these templates.

Pencil/Awl Holes

Pencil/Awl Holes

The holes are specifically designed for a felt pen, so to get the accuracy you need for marquetry, you’d want to ensure your awl or pencil was a suitable taper to neatly fit the hole when it was deep enough to create the required mark.

I’ve not tried marquetry before, and after the following little exercise, I have a lot of respect for the amount of skill, and patience they have!  The laying out was a breeze using the Sewing Revolution.

Ready for some Marquetry

Ready for some Marquetry

So I have selected a veneer of Blackwood, the 6/8 Sewing Revolution, the Woodpecker Rule, and the a Chris Vesper marking knife.

And so I begin.  I’ve decided to create an 8 sided star as a bit of a test.  Marking each outside corner was simplicity – just mark the same distance from the centre on each of the 22.5 degree lines.  I then needed to inside corner 1/2 way between those lines.  Again, there is a simple way of rotating the template through 12.25 degrees so the 22.5 degree lines are again in a useful orientation.  Mark those corners, remove the template, and draw connecting lines.  It took longer to write this paragraph, than it took to mark out the star itself!

Resulting Star

Resulting Star

The picture here is not quite life-size, but it is close.

Beginning the Cutting

Beginning the Cutting

As I started this step in the process, I started to become really aware what is involved in marquetry (or patchwork!)  Don’t bother trying a full pattern if you are not a patient person!

Resulting Blackwood Star

Resulting Blackwood Star with Huon Pine Background

So I’m pretty pleased with the final result – having all the right tools makes these sorts of tasks a breeze, and a pleasure.  And of course, getting the process started on the right track with an accurate layout tool makes all the difference.  Where it would really have started to show its benefit would be making contrasting corners to fit the star, all the right size, easily.

I can certainly see where it got it’s “Sewing Revolution” name – and that there is a real crossover between the different pasttimes – perhaps some quilters etc should try some marquetry (and vice versa).  Or perhaps not – do woodworkers need the extra challenge of absolute experts at patchwork turning their skill set to working with wood veneers?!!!

PatchworkThis is some of the work the Sewing Revolution owners have produced.  A tidy, simple pattern, which when you imagine it in different timbers, would look stunning.

There are plenty of patterns, examples and tutorials on the Sewing Revolution website that can easily be translated across to a woodworking situation.  But it is more than just patterns.  I am sure that there are plenty of other layout, setting out etc problems that will be found in the workshop that these templates will be discovered to be the ideal solution.

And as to getting one (both) – what other excuse do you need, than buying a tool that can be used for both partners’ hobbies! (Being a bit stereotypical for a sec, wonder if any wives will become suspicious why their husbands actually want to go to the Stitches and Craft show for the first time ever 🙂 )

The product is designed, and manufacturered in Australia.  Cost for each template (the 5/7 and 6/8) is $50.

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