CWB March 2004


Original Art Through Copying>


Using some modern conveniences, David Sims complements his furniture with beautiful marquetry.>


By Sam Gazdziak>

Built as a companion piece to the bed, this entertainment unit continues the bow motif. Sims' photocopying technique is not limited by size. If the marquetry design is too large to be copied in one pass by the machine, several pages can be copied and reassembled on the background.>
David Sims Custom Woodworking>

Santa Barbara, CA>

Year Founded: 1994

Employees: 1

Shop Size: 3,500 square feet


FYI: Sims' marquetry technique, which involves using a copy machine, eliminates 99 percent of the gaps, he estimates. The technique was something he extrapolated from several books he had read.

David Sims' method for doing marquetry work involves familiar materials and tools. Veneer packet. Saw. Photocopier. Alright, so the copy machine isn't a typical woodworking tool. After seeing Sims' work, though, it's hard to argue with the results.

Sims has been involved in woodworking for 20 years, with stints building theater sets and working in cabinet shops. The work has taken him from California to Alaska to New York and finally back to California. Now based in Santa Barbara, Sims specializes in custom-made furniture.


The owner of this bed loved the bow motif and had numerous antiques in her house. David Sims built the bed to fit in nicely with the rest of the house. The bed is mahogany and plum pudding mahogany, with African satinwood, holly and ebony inlays.>

He shares a 3,500-square-foot space with another woodworker. The latest addition to the shop floor is a Martin table saw. In addition to the new saw, Sims has a Vacuum Pressing Systems flip-top press, Festool sanders, a Delta shaper and joiner, a Hoffmann lipping planer, DeWalt scroll saw and Powermatic 15-inch jointer.

Sims says he prefers to make furniture that is more subtle. "It fits into the whole, but it doesn't call attention to itself," he says of his work. "It's the things that people put on the furniture that makes it the client's piece. I can't control that, so I try to make something that will highlight and make their things look nice."


This is a combination dresser/entertainment center, built for a client's bedroom. Sims used quarter-sawn cherry and fiddleback English sycamore veneers.>

While his work may be subtle, Sims also adds eye-catching touches to it with his marquetry. The technique that he developed allows him to make marquetry that is practically gap-free. He starts in a traditional way, cutting out objects in veneer packets. He then takes the original drawing and puts vellum over it.

"I glue the pieces to the vellum with spray adhesive, and I take the entire thing to the photocopy place and copy it," he explains. "I take the photocopy, put it over the background, and I cut right inside the line. Then I take the original objects and press them into the background.


"I'm able to eliminate all the gaps by collapsing the objects into the gaps," he adds. "At the level I work at, I try to give [the clients] the best they can possibly have. I end up with something that's 99 percent free of gaps."


The one downside to the technique is there is no duplication of pieces. "When I cut out a flower, I only get that flower, and not another flower that's a mirror image of it," he says. "It takes longer, because there's no duplication of anything. But it allows me to have better control of the product by doing it that way."


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