Some of you may remember a couple of months ago I posted a new segment in my blog about marquetry cutting styles describing the “painting in wood” style. Well, once I started cutting the classic French design (pattern in the back of the workbook from ASFM) I started musing about where it might end up. I’ve made enough boxes and while they were a good venue for some simple marquetry and served well to practice on, my real interest is in bigger projects and more furniture kind of pieces.
To make a long story a little shorter, I decided to go for one of the most common items seen adorned with French marquetry, the writing table. One of the problems you face when you start looking in Pierre Ramond’s books to get a feel for what you want to build is that you soon discover that in France, in the days when the chevalet was developed, they put a lot of marquetry on their furniture. I don’t mean that the top was completely covered with it (although it would have been) but that every flat surface on the piece was covered with marquetry…...........and some of the curved ones.
The question that always gets me in trouble: How hard can it be?
So I started by designing a nice little writing table with lots of marquetry and it just sort of snowballed from there. I’m currently at around twelve to thirteen hundred pieces and I haven’t started assembling the table yet.
Here are a few photos to get you up to speed.
This is a sketch I made several months ago, a little musing about making a fancy table in the old French style (of which I know nothing of course). It immediately came to mind when I did the painting in wood piece. The finished table will actually look a lot like it. That’s surprising for me because my projects often end up very different from the “concept drawing”.
To start with I thought I would cut the “music” motif from the painting in wood segment above in an ellipse and do a leaf garland to set it off.
I decided to do a macassar ebony border around the table top and add elaborate corner marquetry. I matched and mitered the ebony veneer and then stack cut all four corners in four colors in Boulle style. That means the packet was sixteen layers plus 1/8” plywood wasters top and bottom, about 3/4” thick.
If you want things to fit after cutting a packet this thick you had better have a very square blade setup.
This picture shows the check I did to be sure. The piece fitted in the hole in the bottom waster plywood is actually the piece cut out of the top waster piece 3/4” away. This proves that the bottom piece and the top piece are exactly the same size. It took a little adjustment but the built in adjusters on the chevalet handled it perfectly. The piece at the side is one of the ebony layers from the same cut.
This shot shows the layers in the packet. There are four of dyed yellow, four purpleheart, four pale green poplar and four ebony. The Poplar was thicker and caused several problems down the road.
There are something like two hundred and sixty-eight pieces in the corner motifs (total).
Here is the rough laid out border with the corners assembled into the background and the central medallion sitting in rough position. The garland has yet to be trimmed to elliptical on the outside.
I think that’s enough for one night. I am skipping a lot of little things but this blog will turn out to be long enough as it is. I have a ton of photos of this thing. Next time I’ll try to cover the rest of the table top and include a few of the “learning experiences” I was fortunate enough to encounter.
I hope you enjoy this blog half as much as I am enjoying the build. I keep hearing strains of “Fools Rush In” when I’m working on this..????
Thanks for dropping in. Comments, critiques, and especially questions are always welcome.
-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/