Canadian Woodworking


Author: Garnet Hall
Published: June July 2002

This project is a fairly simple one and should be a good craft seller.


Pattern reduced to 75%. Can be sized to preference.

It has only 8 pieces, including the eye. This project is different than anything that we’ve done before as it is made out of MDF and painted. I hear a lot of intarsia artists comment that it is hard to find good material for their pieces. Everyone should be able to find MDF. It’s inexpensive and easy to work with. It also comes in a variety of thicknesses which makes raising and lowering easier. However, it does make a lot of sawdust, so be sure to at least wear a dust mask.

Transfer the pattern

Start with 3/4″ thick MDF. Transfer the pattern to the MDF. Because you are working with MDF and are going to paint the project, grain is of no concern. Attach the pattern as a whole rather than separate pieces. I call this technique non-directional intarsia. Cut on the lines and the pieces will be sure to fit. Make sure your blade is square to the table. I found a #7 precision skip blade worked well for this material and project.


Once it’s cut out assemble and get ready for the shaping. Did you notice that there is no fitting step? That’s because the pattern was attached as a whole, so when you cut along the lines the pieces naturally fit back together.

The top dorsal fin is lowered and the back of the shark will be shaped down to the dorsal fin’s thickness.

Shape as usual. Try to give the shark a rounded look. Shaping will also create a lot of sawdust so, again, wear a good mask.

Sand as usual. I don’t sand past 220, as I don’t want to create any more dust than necessary.


Once you have the sanding done assemble the project onto the backing material (1/4 oak or birch plywood). Make the back in the “set back” style (i.e. the back a bit smaller than the actual project). Trace around and cut the back out.


Paint the pieces before you glue up. It’s a good idea to prime the MDF before painting it, as MDF soaks paint up like a sponge.

I used a gray latex paint (two coats). I made the eye out of a 3/8″ dowel and painted the end white with a black dot.

Paint black the area on the backing board that will be under the gills. Alternatively, you can save the gill cutouts, lower them ¼” and paint them black.

Glue the project onto the backing. Add a hanger and it’s done.

If you would prefer to make the shark in a more traditional style, look for some gray mahogany. If you check out the mahogany boards you can sometimes find pieces that have a real nice gray colour (almost silver).

Cut the pieces separately taking the grain direction into consideration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Turning/Carving/Intarsia projects to consider
Username: Password: