Table of contents

Painting with Light

People have been creating beautiful pieces of art and furniture using marquetry and inlay for thousands of years. The process has traditionally been slow, using knives and saws to cut the veneer, but the advent of inexpensive laser cutters has opened up this world to a new generation of artisans.

The book looks at marquetry’s rich history over the millennia, and explores the amazing work of contemporary artisans doing marquetry around the world. Their innovative work will provide inspiration for your own projects, and using a laser instead of a saw makes marquetry more accessible to the modern marker.

Each chapter guides you through the process step by step, with detailed descriptions and images as it moves through the marquetry process: Drawing the image, cutting out the veneer shapes, assembling them, and finishing the piece.

Available in paperback and eBook on Amazon: 


I began using a CNC to create marquetry projects a few years ago and initially relied on the Internet and YouTube to guide my exploration. While there was a lot of useful information, I quickly exhausted the “wisdom of the crowd” once getting past the basics. In addition, many of the techniques the video makers advised turned out not to work too well for me in practice.

I was lucky to connect with some artisans who used more traditional methods and was able to adapt their workflows to suit them to my own way of working. I found a number of excellent books on traditional marquetry, but not much on using CNCs or lasers, hence, the book.

The book synthesizes that learning journey, and hopes to provide a comprehensive guide for people who want to create marquetry using digital technologies in a single place. It is organized in the same way the marquetry process flows; from design to finishing.

After the introductory chapter, which outlines the history of inlaid wood, how traditional marquetry is done, and a primer on veneers, there are chapters on design, cutting, assembly, finishing, and finally, a resources section. Each chapter will explain the process, tools, and techniques involved in that phase. We follow a simple project from design to finish and see how the various techniques are applied to it. 

I studied design in college in the mid-1970s and began my working life as an film animator. When personal computers came along, I used them in my work to automate the tedious camera movements, and ultimately began manufacturing motion-control systems for other animators to move their cameras. As digital graphics technology progressed, I founded a number of companies that made tools for creative people to ply their craft from drawing to animation to editing. I changed  careers mid-life into academia, as an educational technology professor at UVA, until retiring in 2021.

And now do marquetry...

Visit my Etsy shop