We’re all familiar with the word meander in everyday use, but what’s the meaning when applied to woodworking? We were scratching our heads when Mark Arnold submitted this as the next entry for his Arcane Dictionary (released on 360 WoodWorking today – become a member if you’d like to see it).
Meander! Obviously he was going to define something that wandered aimlessly. But again, what’s this have to do with woodworking. Then we read the article and everything became clear.
Meander is a decorative border of a repeating shape made up from a single line. It’s been found on furniture and elsewhere throughout eternity. The most common meander is the Wall of Troy design shown surrounding our logo in the opening photo. This design has no turns, and most closely resembles dentil molding that we often cut using a dado stack at the table saw. In fact, if you make the cuts as you would to create dentil molding, then flip the workpiece to the second face and repeat the process beginning a half step to one side or the other, you can make Wall of Troy at your saw.
Add a turn or two or three to the mix and the design becomes more involved. Mark provided an image of the more complex designs for use in the article. It’s shown below.
What really caught our attention, other than Mark’s writing and wit and the images he pulls from old books, was that his article included a technique that he developed to make a brick of inlay from which you can slice individual pieces. Plus, Mark was looking for a challenge, so his method was to create a two-turn motif, which he did using all face-grain pieces because inlay made using end-grain “is more prone to areas of loss over time because glue does not adhere well to the transverse surface.”