Design Challenge: Kayak marquetry

I just ordered a wooden Kayak kit.

My intentions are to use the Glowforge to create veneered marquetry patterns to cover the top surfaces of the kayak down to the black rope line around the perimeter…

I have access to just about any veneer I need. The boat is 14’6" long and about 28" wide.

I have some ideas for designs, but am looking for the most jaw dropping statement possible.

For the winner of this challenge, I will send you either a hand carved santa or custom wood bird ornament for your Christmas tree: designed and made by yours truly. Your choice.

Picture is representative only, I have about 30 different designs.

Thanks and I hope this spurs some interesting ideas.


Find an Inuit legend. Lay out the story around the kayak. Use traditional designs to tell the story, without words. Fill in any extra space with a totem pole image. Use repeating motifs around the edges as borders.
Because of the single-color fields in traditional Inuit designs, this would lend itself well to the type of work you are considering.

You could use the same type of design with a Hawaiian/Polynesian theme if you prefer that, or maybe one of the old Celtic legends, though Inuit and Iceland/Greenland natives are the most traditional users of kayaks.


That kayak is very nice looking. Judging from your carved duck, your kayak is going to be stunning! what a great project. Where I come from (Puget Sound) Willits Brothers canoes were a work of art. What area of the country are you going to use this kayak and will it be ocean or fresh water mostly? Inquiring minds want to know. - Rich


Turn it into a mini Viking longship:


Yeah, I like that. I was thinking with @buschtrent’s carving ability, that something along those lines might be cool. - Rich


I live and kayak in the midwest on the Mississippi river.


Then something along the lines of Mississippi river history. Fur traders, Native Americans, River boats…instead of paddles you could put hand cranked paddle wheels on each side…no, no…way out there. - Rich


From the air it should look like some other kind of craft, going the other direction.


That is amazing! I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

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I would look at some of the native art in the pacific NW. I think this art would lend itself to the marquetry you want to do and allow you multiple colors. The other feature is I would also engrave some of the marquetry, which is something not typically done in marquetry, but with this style could really set it off.


Google more examples:

This is my 2 cents



Love the killer whale idea and I think it would look great.

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I have a thing for the indigenous art of the Northwest.
Stationed at NAS Whidbey, our new (1973) squadron VAQ 137, electronic warfare was looking for a mascot.
We decided on this…

Orcinus Orca figured prominently in the coastal cultures, with good reason.
A documentary of them showed a 6 ton male plow 20 feet onto the beach like a train and grabbed an 1,100 lb. seal in its mouth, turned around and belly flopped back into the water!
The sovereign ruler of the sea is not a great white, it’s a mammal, and it was well known to the natives that Orca’s realm extends beyond the water’s edge!

I think that @fineclonier’s idea is excellent.


@printolaser, great Orca story. I was born and raised in Tacoma, WA within a stones throw of Puget Sound and the Narrows bridge. I saw Orcas many times cruising the Sound in search of their favorite meal…salmon. They are always awesome creatures to behold.

I second (or third the motion) for N.W. native art. It really is suited for lasering and your wood kayak. - Rich


If you want to do something around a Mississippi River theme, these maps of the historical traces of the Mississippi River look like they have some promise. Couldn’t work out how exactly, but they sure are pretty.



Wow. That’s beautiful.


Whoa, that’s amazing!! Bet you could replicate the different colors by using different wood veneers similar to how the Glowforge Catan board was made.


The map brings to mind these guys who track down sunken steamboats, that are now 30 feet deep in a farmer’s field a considerable distance from the river. Some with their loads still aboard.


A pattern based on the water itself could be really beautiful, something like these:


Ok, thanks for the ideas. I will give this about 2 more weeks then declare the winner.
If anyone else wants to give it a try, now is the time.

Thanks again.

PS. the kayak kit arrived and I am building the bottom half. I am waiting on the Glowforge to do the veneer work. I could do it by hand, but want to see how the laser works for this project.


I did a quick search on Google Images, and I can see what you mean. They are stunning.

A compass rosette

Pretty amazing. The GF will make such thing easier, but not easy. Still a lot of artist involved and sweat. - Rich