Boulle Marquetry Tea Tray

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Project by Mathew Nedeljko posted 07-22-2012 12:44 AM 4034 views 8 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few months ago I cut three different patterns using the Boulle Marquetry technique without any specific project in mind. I went ahead and assembled the patterns and pressed them onto some 1/2” mdf and then waited for some inspiration.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing with these panels and thinking about how I could make them into a box, when I discovered a 2×3 arrangement which was a nice combination of dark and light backgrounds and primary and secondary patterns. Suddenly inspiration struck, these panels would look really nice as a panel for the bottom of a tray I thought.

I went looking for a tray design and quickly realized that I needed to keep it fairly subdued so that the marquetry would stand out. I decided on a “simple” compound miter angle tray with handles on the end. Well don’t ever let anyone tell you that compound angles are simple. Fortunately I found an article in FWW from September 2002 that showed how to get the compound angles on the table saw set up using a 2×4 as the gauge. Well even following the instructions and poring over the pictures I must say I spent quite a while puzzling over how this was going to work. Who would have thought just angling the sides out 10 degrees would result in so much additional complexity??? The fun does not stop there, though, just wait till you get to the glue up… anyway, after overcoming all these challenges I am happy with how it turned out.

The tray itself is approx 12”W x 18”L x 2.25”H. The sides are cherry, just under 3/8” thick shop re-sawn from a single 3/4” board. The splines are rosewood. The marquetry features maple, mahogany, and walnut veneers, the patterns were cut on my chevalet using the Boulle technique. The finish is sealed with shellac, multiple coats of a wipe on oil and urethane blend sanded between coats up to 4000 grit with the new Mirka Abralon pads. Finally a coat of paste was hand rubbed to bring up the shine.

Now off for a cup of tea.Thanks for looking!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

12 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5474 days

#1 posted 07-22-2012 12:47 AM

Very nice work on this.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View shipwright's profile


8821 posts in 4293 days

#2 posted 07-22-2012 01:09 AM

Hey Mat. Nice work.

I’ve been waiting for this and it was worth it. The last photos I saw were not quite finished and not as nicely set up and photographed either. The finish looks really good and the photography is excellent.
Of course the marquetry is Great and the simple style tray shows it off well.
Congrats. Gotta love those chevalets.

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

View wood_wench's profile


89 posts in 4926 days

#3 posted 07-22-2012 01:47 AM

As per your usual – stunning work Mat. Donna

View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4538 days

#4 posted 07-22-2012 02:38 AM


I love it simple but elegant. The compound angles do the trick.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3683 days

#5 posted 07-22-2012 02:40 AM

A very handsome tray !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3672 posts in 5207 days

#6 posted 07-22-2012 03:29 AM


Everything about the tray is wonderful, but I’d be afraid to use something so beautiful!


-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female)

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4510 days

#7 posted 07-22-2012 10:04 AM

stunning work

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4383 days

#8 posted 07-22-2012 11:57 AM

Hi Mat.

As M. Boulle himself would say, “Magnifique!”

I’d say you’re getting the hang of using the chevalet.

Now about that tea, Earl Grey or English Breakfast?

One lump or two old bean?


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 4034 days

#9 posted 07-22-2012 05:43 PM

It looks amazing. Well done!

-- I never finish anyth

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 4082 days

#10 posted 07-22-2012 05:50 PM

WoW!!! I would love to see a blog on how you did this as I would love to make one, too. Excellent work my friend. Thanks for posting.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View prometej065's profile


336 posts in 5178 days

#11 posted 07-24-2012 12:42 PM

View mauibob's profile


258 posts in 4562 days

#12 posted 09-02-2012 05:24 PM

Beautifully done, Mat. You and Paul are definitely pushing me toward getting a chevalet.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

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