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Nautical Themed Marquety Table

author-gravatar WickedCreekWoodworks Jun 27, 2021

A study of various #marquetry techniques. I was very much inspired by Frank Strazzas "Roses" table and wanted to do a serpentine front side table with lots of inlay and marquetry. The goal was to do as many techniques in one project as possible. I went with a nautical theme as I had just finished my service with the Navy and was working under Phil Lowe in Beverly Mass right on the coast. I still sail Salem sound to this day regularly on the Schooner Fame, so the theme really represented my new roots planted on the North Shore.

This table was featured at AWFS Las Vegas 2019 as the Freshwood Student Work Competition Best of Show

The top features a #holly and #ebony compass rose, with a walnut burl background that is reminiscent of a weathered nautical chart, showing coastlines and islands. The center oval is surrounded by a herringbone #banding which looks like the lay of a line (rope). The banding here was done by laying up a single blank that was one quarter of the oval then sawing out four pieces. Around the edge of the top is more banding with sand shaded spandrels which were a fun take on the more common circular or elliptical fans.

The sides and drawer fronts are all hammer #veneered. The sides featuring a walnut burl ellipse bordered by holly #stringing and mahogany cross banding. The drawer fronts are sawn from solid white pine and feature cross banding with radiused corners. 

The legs are typical #federal stringed and cuffed tapered legs with a fouled anchor 3paterae elipses at the top which where hand sawn in the piece by piece method on a Chevalet de Marquetry. I wanted to do some really refined bell flowers and follow Mr. Strazzas example along with the ring suspending them at the top. 

#bellflowers #hammerveneering #federalfurniture #Inlay #awfs 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Everything begins with a drawing. I do mine full scale and include all the detail, all the joinery and everything.

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

It's just a pile of sticks for a long time... then poof! a table appears!

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Fitting the sides and back to the legs

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Sides are sawn from solid white pine then hammer veneered. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

After hammering its not a bad idea to still clamp it if at all possible, so at the end of the day I tossed them in the vacuum bag for the night. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Fitting the runners and guides for the drawers

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Poof! A table!

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Practice practice practice. Used some cherry veneer scraps to work out the right gouges for the bell flowers and do a test run. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

I chop out a piece of cardstock with the gouges to create a patter than can be traced on each leg. There were 8 sets to do!

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Some of the tools used for inlaying the paterae 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Legs done!

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Mitering the cross banding veneer with a shooting board

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

I ended up making a veneer hammer for this project, its a great technique to learn and doesn't require an expensive veneer press or vacuum bag. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

If your bench isn't a mess, are you even woodworking?

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Side view of the drawer showing the cock beading

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Joint for the top and bottom cock beads where it meets the sides

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Start in the middle and work your way out. The burn was applied first, then cut with a marking gauge and knife, then peeled off the excess which is an amazing feature of hot hide glue. Then applied the stringing using pins to clamp it to the side of the veneer. Finally fit the cross banding. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Drawer face done. The cock beading is as much a feature as it is to protect the edge of the veneer. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Making banding. I used the jig as a planing guide to make each strip the exact same thickness. In banding a tiny error gets exponentially worse as you go along. The strips were sawn into little parallelograms then glued between two strips of holly veneer.

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

The curved bandings hand to be glued up around a form and then sawn out. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Gluing up the top

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Shape sawn and bandings applied. I routed the channel for the bandings with a small router with a "birds beak" fence which would follow the curve. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Laying out the compass rose. Make your mistakes on paper! 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Excavated the ellipse with a router then cleaned up by hand. All veneered surfaces were toothed with a toothing plane. In this case I had to use the iron without the plane to texture the inside of the ellipse. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Burl was applied then a channel was routed for the banding which was done with four pieces. The compass points hide the join between them, 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Blanks for the compass

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Compass sawn, and glued/taped together to use as a pattern for the inlay. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Straight lines are HARD! This is why so much marquetry is natural forms with no straight lines. Getting the points sharp was the most difficult part. 

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Sand shading is such a fun process and makes inlay and marquetry just pop

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Back to the drawing for the spandrel pattern

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Truing up the wedges

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Taped and glued

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Marking the arc to be sawn

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

A gouge to cut the arc for the ebony tips

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table
Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

Practice practice practice, all to get four I was happy with.

Photo of Nautical Themed Marquety Table

7 comments

Oh my gosh, i'm speechless. This is by far one of the nicest, most detailed pieces i've ever seen. Definitely top 2 on this site. You did remarkable work on this table and should be VERY proud. Thank you so much for sharing here on SimpleCove, I really appreciate it. Damn fine work!

Yeah wow fantastic job! How did you do your leg string molding? Was that all hand-cut? I can imagine how many hours you have in this! 

Thank you! It really just started as just a study but took on a life of its own! 

@Sean  said:

Oh my gosh, i'm speechless. This is by far one of the nicest, most detailed pieces i've ever seen. Definitely top 2 on this site. You did remarkable work on this table and should be VERY proud. Thank you so much for sharing here on SimpleCove, I really appreciate it. Damn fine work!

I started by using a classic DIY scratch stock, which is just a L shaped piece of wood sawn through it's thickness to hold a piece of bandsaw blade. The blade is filed to look like a "V" the width of the string |\/| like that. But then someone brought in the Veritas stringing tool and I was sold, that thing is fantastic for scratching in the groove for the string. The curved parts of the strings are soaked in water then bent around a hot copper pipe, like a quick steam bend. 

@WoodGate  said:

Yeah wow fantastic job! How did you do your leg string molding? Was that all hand-cut? I can imagine how many hours you have in this! 

Thanks! I found that Veritas string tool and will order but it is out of stock until August. I would love to start stringing my drawers. 

This is a stunning piece, I love it.

I would like to know more about the finish prep for inlays and stringing. Are you using hand planes for flattening or is it just a ton of scraping and/or sanding? 

I bet you could write an entire post on the process involved after the inlay is applied to get to the point where you are ready for finish.

You aren't far off! It was quite a process on this one. Because of the holly and ebony I really couldn't sand as the ebony dust would get into the holly and

it would make a mess. So the whole thing was planed where I could, but mostly scraped. I could plane down most of the stringing to get it flush, then a sharp card scraper for the surface prep. I finished right off the scraper. 

@Timmy2Hands  said:

This is a stunning piece, I love it.

I would like to know more about the finish prep for inlays and stringing. Are you using hand planes for flattening or is it just a ton of scraping and/or sanding? 

I bet you could write an entire post on the process involved after the inlay is applied to get to the point where you are ready for finish.

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