The Art of Sorrento Inlaid Wood  (Intarsia Sorrentina)

The Process

Casa Di Sorrento Inc, in partnership with master artisans exclusively commissioned by our company, produces the most beautiful and finest heirloom quality "Intarsai Sorrentina" inlaid wood art furniture handcrafted in Sorrento, Italy. We would like to take this opportunity to explain to our valued customers the process that goes into making each and every piece of furniture and art we sell.  First and foremost, each furniture piece manufactured by our artisans begins as a solid seasoned mahogany piece.  The mahogany we use is hand selected and aged for eight to ten years before it is manufactured.  Intarsia refers to the centuries old traditional process of making inlaid wooden mosaic products, to include furniture, jewelry boxes, cigar boxes and other wood items. To make the inlay design, the artist first prepares a full-scale accurate pencil drawing of the design to be transformed into intarsia. Next using transparent paper, the original design is recopied and the artist modifies the drawing into a mosaic form, keeping in mind that each piece will be made of wood of unique color and grain structure.  It is the contrast between color and the orientation of grain that brings the design to life. The original transparency is then used to make transparent working copies, which are subsequently destroyed during the process of cutting the mosaic pieces of wood. The art of inlaid wood is actually a decorative composition obtained by hand cutting with a jigsaw, inserting, and putting together different colored pieces of wood to create a specific design or picture. In the true intarsia art form, touching up the wood by painting is not permitted.  All coloring and design detail must be the natural wood color and grain structure, or dye is added to the wood to create colors not naturally found in wood.  Only the trunks of the trees are used for the inlay design, and the woods used are imported from all over the world.  The tree trunks are treated and aged for a couple of years to remove the moisture, and then cut into thin slabs, approximately 0.7 millimeters thick.  The slabs are classified according to color and grain structure and stored until needed.  To cut the individual mosaic pieces, the appropriate slabs are selected based on grain and color and stacked for the cutting process. These pieces are then assembled and glued to a newspaper sheet like a jigsaw puzzle. The sheet with the design is glued; paper up to the base of the piece of furniture or art, and the paper is removed using a very fine sandpaper. What remains is the mosaic design glued to the wooden base, which is usually level with the surface. This is then varnished, polished or coated with a polyurethane depending on the desired finish. Furniture pieces sold by Casa di Sorrento receive eight individual coats of hand-applied polyurethane, in order to provide a stunning yet very functional finish that is able to withstand the variable demands of every day use, such as moisture and heat. The wood inlay produces a one of a kind pictorial design, which is the result of the artist’s sensitivity and creativeness. The art of handmade inlaid woodwork is an old and noble Italian tradition typical of the Southern region of Italy, particularly the Sorrento area. It can only be performed by skilled and highly trained artisans whose craft is handed down from generation to generation.  The craft remains very labor intensive with little automation.  The design on a small item, such as a small jewelry box, may have approximately 150 pieces of inlay, while a large intricate design on a large item of furniture may have several thousand.  It is estimated today that only several hundred persons are employed to work this craft.

Inlaid Wood Fabrication

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inlaid wood fabrication


Shading the edges of inlay pieces

inlaid wood fabrication Cutting out design pieces
Pieces before burning inlaid wood fabrication
inlaid wood fabrication Pieces in sand on a hot plate
Pieces with burned edges inlaid wood fabrication


To request additional information please contact us with your inquiry:

(508) 845-4111
35 Camelot Dr  Shrewsbury, MA 01545