Canadian Woodworking

His & hers lighthouse

Author: Garnet Hall
Illustration: Garnet Hall
Published: April May 2004

This is a fairly simple Intarsia project that took on a life of its own.


My wife is an avid quilter and she made the observation that intarsia patterns could work for stained glass/quilting projects. So, I took up the challenge and converted this wood pattern into a stained glass/quilting pattern. Then it occurred to me people might enjoy working on similar projects at the same time. A great many couples share an interest in crafts, and often, it’s the women who are into fabric and the men who are into wood.

Select the Wood

So, this is the first offering of such a project. As a special offer to Canadian Woodworking readers, both patterns in full size form will be available for $10.95 postage included. The pattern can be ordered from Sawbird Designs.

Fabric allows for more latitude in colour selection. I have been dragged around to many fabric shops and am amazed at all the different fabric colours and patterns they have to work with. My wife made the one pictured here and, since then, we have found material with a brick pattern that would look great. Us poor old woodies have to scour the planet to find the nice woods.

This project is a fairly simple, straight forward, Intarsia project. The pieces, for the most part, are big. As a result, you will not encounter too many fitting problems.

Use the woods suggested, or use your imagination to make unique wood choices. This is a very creative step and can make or break the look of the project. Remember, if your wife is working on this pattern in fabric, yours has to look better.

Transfer the Pattern

Transfer the pattern to the wood, with whichever method you prefer:

-trace from the pattern onto the wood

-make a template of the pattern and trace onto the wood

-photocopy and cut and paste

Cut the Pieces

Cut as carefully as you can, right on the line. Make sure your blade is square to the table. The better the cutting, the better the pieces will fit, and the less frustrating the fitting process will be.

Fit the Pieces

Assemble and check the fit. Pieces may have to be adjusted and, occasionally, a piece may have to be remade. Try to fit the pieces to within a saw kerf. Big gaps are unsightly. Small spaces will be disguised by the rounding over process.

Raising and Lowering

Once the pieces have been fitted, do the raising and lowering as required. I use scrap plywood to raise. Lower by re-sawing or sanding the pieces smaller.


Make sure you wear a dust mask for the shaping and sanding. Assemble and draw reference lines to help with the shaping. Shape down to these reference lines. Try to give the lighthouse a rounded look.


I don’t sand past 220 grit anymore. I feel that’s fine enough and no need to make anymore dust than I have to.

Assemble and Glue

If you want to frame the piece make sure you make the back board big enough to accommodate the frame. I used 1″ thick walnut for my frame, afterwards I thought that driftwood would have looked good.

Assemble on the backing material, trace around, then cut out the back. Reassemble the project on the back and start the glue up. Use ordinary white carpenter’s glue.


Once the glue has dried, apply the finish. You can use any finish designed for wood that you like. Brush on, spray, or wipe. I usually put 3 coats on the front and one on the back. You can also apply the finish to the pieces before you glue up. This method is slower but still works.

Attach a hanger and you are done. If your wife has made this pattern in fabric, hang the two side by side. They will make a nice display, and provide hours of entertaining discussion about which one looks best.

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