French Tea Tables

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Project by smokey56 posted 09-02-2012 04:47 PM 3438 views 3 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is of creating two matching French tea tables was an early project after finishing ASFM (American School of French Marquetry) here in San Diego—a fantastic course. Again, since I have not artistic abilities at all, I went to one of Pierre Ramond’s Masterpieces in Marquetry books. The image is a lectern (c1770—1775) by Martin Carlin (pronounced the french way) that is presently in the Getty Museum…photo above. A close up of the lectern top is the third photo—square corners. The project is really an exercise in fillets or strings. There are some 17 to 18 different fillets to make and assemble. Since these veneers are 1-1.2 mm sawn veneers like in my headboard I showed you, the classic way of veneer sawing a pathway for the string is not possible—way too thick. After cutting the fillets, I used pins to glue and hold them into position tightly and accurately until dried (see above). These pins are strategically placed in the substrate so as to clamp the fillet and not injuring it. When dried, shave the proud edge of the fillet with minute violin planes (these are about 2 cm, yes, 2 cm long)—-extremely accurate. So, you assemble and build from the center to the outside progressively. The sawn veneers are boxwood, tulipwood, amaranth, ebony, kingwood and holly. Can you guess which are the fillets? The legs are coved on sides—the front and outer sides, then veneered with pre-banned Brazilian Rosewood. The grain is placed at 45 degrees down the entire leg. These veneers are thinner sliced to allow some bend. To clamp the veneer into these coves, I used a canvas sock, partially filled with sand. The sock is heated to 300 degrees, placed and wrapped with roping/thick cord to compress the odd shape. The parts are french polished and assembled.
Questions? Email me at [email protected]
PS The flowers in the initial photo are my wife’s, not mine.

Ken Stover

7 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8618 posts in 3712 days

#1 posted 09-02-2012 06:13 PM

Beautiful pieces Ken.
Of course your marquetry is excellent but I really admire the legs.
So classic.

Well done.

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

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3103 days

#2 posted 09-02-2012 07:06 PM

Super !

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

View Oldtool's profile


3082 posts in 3105 days

#3 posted 09-02-2012 09:00 PM

Very nice, excellent work.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25482 posts in 4020 days

#4 posted 09-02-2012 10:36 PM

Wow, exquisite tables!!!!!!!!!!!!!!............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3604 days

#5 posted 09-03-2012 12:40 AM

Wow! You guys that do this kind of work just amaze me. Those are beautiful and look like something I would expect to find in a museum.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View smokey56's profile


31 posts in 3050 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 12:11 AM

Regarding those French tea tables…......the edge banding with the fruitwood veneer was a bit of a challenge with the up and down swells and dips. I finally thought of using a cotton shirt and used this to clamp with the cloth. The veneer section is positioned, plastic is interfaced, then the cloth is fit so that the pull and clamping is against the bias of the cloth (ask your wife what cloth bias is). This method works exceedingly well when working on short edge sections.

Ken Stover

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3590 posts in 4627 days

#7 posted 09-05-2012 04:32 AM


These tables are truly outstanding! Thanks for sharing.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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