how to install compo appliques and onlays

This panel will be the focal point on our master bedroom window valance box.

This post shows you how I prepare this compo scroll and acanthus leaf applique for installation on this bare wood panel.

Why This is An Unusual Applique Installation

I’ve been dragging around this box of leftover appliques for nearly ten years, so I’m sure the glue that’s in the compo material is no longer active.

If they were fresh appliques however, then holding them over steam bath will release the glue in the compo, so all you have to do is lay them on the bare wood (or any porous material) and let the glue set.  You can even tack them in place with a few micro pins.

You normally don’t prime them before installation — I primed these years ago to show the detail better in photos.  The compo material they are made from is normally dark brown.

rosette square corner block

My box of miscellaneous appliques in various stages of brokeness.

The compo dries out over time, and that can make the appliques warp a bit, and in this case, a lot.  But when I hold them over the steam bath they will soften right up and then I can lay them flat on the center panel.

That’s my plan anyway.

decorators supply ornament

Even new appliques may arrive a bit warped, so giving them a good steam bath can help flatten them out.

Broken Compo Appliques

It’s common for the more delicate compo appliques to arrive broken.  Even if they arrive whole, they can be easy to break while handling them.

Don’t worry, fixing them is very easy.

architectural ornaments

This broken frond will be easy to fix.

I glued this broken frond to the center panel where it belongs.  I’ll fill and shape the small gap with either spackling or wood filler when I prep the whole thing for paint.

compo architectural ornament

A little filler is all this break needs to make it look perfect again.

Prepping the Panel

Here I’m testing the applique location and the fit of the panel molding (PM-008) below the center panel flat-stock.

compo architectural ornament

Testing the molding fit and the applique location.

I don’t like that small gap between PM-008 and the center panel, so I’ll bevel that edge on my table saw so it fits nice and flush.

window valance box

A quick run through my table saw solves the problem.

Now the center panel fits snug against PM-008.

An option would have been to wrap PM-008 up and over the center panel, but this time I’m running it below because I want the appliques to be that much more prominent.

diy window valance box

A good fit.

Find the center of the panel and then scribe it with a pencil.  Also mark the horizontal where the bed molding will be.

compo onlay applique ornament

To Be Continued…

In the next post I’ll show you how I gave the appliques a steam bath to soften and then apply them to the center panel.

Related Posts

The Best Place to Buy Woodworking Appliques

Architectural Ornaments (The category showing a growing list of the appliques I use on my molding patterns.)