Marquetry Serving Tray #6: Making some pegs, changing the design a bit, and disaster

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Blog entry by jmartel posted 06-08-2014 08:52 PM 3040 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: More construction on the tray frame Part 6 of Marquetry Serving Tray series Part 7: Nearing the end »

To keep with the Greene and Greene style theme, I decided that I wanted to use some black square pegs on the finger joints. Headed over to Rockler hoping to find a turning blank of Ebony, but the only things they had was Salt & Pepper sized and about $80. I ended up spying a piece of African Blackwood that was 1.5”x1.5”x6” that would work out perfectly.

Took it to the bandsaw and resawed a 1/4” wide piece off, and then sawed that piece up into 1/4”x1/4” strips.

From there, I chucked a block plane up in my vice, and passed the pieces over the plane a few times to clean up the bandsaw marks.

From there, I cut them into 1.5” long pieces

Since the pegs typically have rounded faces in G&G, I used a technique that I saw from a William NG video sometime last year.

Chuck the pieces up in a drill (or drill press in my case), and use a sanding pad backed by something soft like rags. I started at 80 grit and went all the way up to 320 grit. Then you square the sides a little bit by sanding a bit more with the 320 on each side.

Here’s what you are left with:

Almost polished faces on them. Each piece has both ends done in this way. Once I assemble the tray together, I’ll cut them to be about 3/8” long, as they are only decorative to cover up the dowels that will be used for strength.

I also decided to change up the design on the handles a bit. After looking at it more, I didn’t care for the cloud lift and couldn’t come up with an opening that looked good. So, I revised my design to this, which is still a design prevalent in G&G furniture:

Once that was finished, I set to laminating the veneer work to the plywood backing. I guess during the glue up the boards I was using for cauls weren’t putting enough pressure or weren’t flat enough because the glue up came out a bit wavy. When I tried to sand it down, it pulled some rope pieces off, sanded through in a few other places, and just looked absolutely horrible. I attempted to fix this by splicing in new pieces, but they stuck out quite a bit. There really wasn’t any way to make it look acceptable, so I decided to scrap the effort on this. The areas like the lettering looked fine (although a bit thin in the M), but any attempts at fixing just made everything worse.

Back to square one. This was about 10pm last night, and I decided to start again on a new background. Decided against the rope pattern since it didn’t turn out like I had wanted to, even the areas that did stay attached. By 1am, this is what I was left with:

Now I need to re-do the lettering, inlay that, glue everything up again (and correctly this time).

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

4 comments so far

View stefang's profile


16722 posts in 3838 days

#1 posted 06-08-2014 09:32 PM

Great save. Too bad the rope pieces didn’t work out, but you can always give it a go another time. I can easily see how difficult the rope is to inlay, especially when being cut by hand. The new background motif looks very good though even though it’s not rope.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8377 posts in 3302 days

#2 posted 06-09-2014 01:18 AM

Double 3/4” MDF is what I use for cauls. They stay nice and flat and produce even pressure.
They will help but you really should build a press if you are going to keep doing marquetry, either a screw press or a vacuum press will do. My preference is the screw press because I can use it wth hot metal cauls.
There are several posts of good veneer presses on the site.
I admire your perseverance and I know the pain of sanding through. It happens to us all sooner or later.
This will turn out well in the end, I know it will.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View jmartel's profile


8568 posts in 2654 days

#3 posted 06-09-2014 03:50 AM

Yeah, I was planning on building a screw press. I bought a pair of large C-clamps from HF like you posted up to make one, but this project unfortunately was a little more urgent and couldn’t wait for me to make a press.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2122 days

#4 posted 06-10-2014 01:28 AM

I admire your perseverance, rope looked impressive but the compass rose really stands out after your amazing recovery. Just curious will you ever show your father this series after you give him his gift. This is truly a labor of love.

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