Larry Ciesla

parquetry backed cherry chairs

cherry dining
        chairs with parquetry basketweave

This set of eight cherry chairs was my son Chris' project with a little help from dad!   Chris has become an accomplished woodworker and furniture maker in his own right.  Opportunities for me to teach him something new are getting fewer and farther between.  Our time together in the shop is now more collaboration, and that is really fun for both of us.

Chris designed these chairs with a rather difficult back and to make things even more difficult, he decided to include a basket-weave parquetry pattern on each chair.  A dining table is in the works to go with these chairs, and that same parquetry pattern will be embedded in the table top.

Here is a closer picture of the parquetry in the chair-back.  The curved back is made from 1/8" cherry strips that are laminated in a form.  The top lamination is the parquetry pattern made from 1/42" veneer.
making parquetry
The process starts by drawing the pattern on a piece of graph paper.  Clear packing tape is placed over the graph paper sticky side up and fixed so it will not move.  Each piece of the pattern is "picked and placed" on the sticky side of the packing tape, one piece at a time.
Sand shading is done in a batch to give the feel of depth to the overall image.  Each of these strips will be cut into individual strips after shading.  It is simply more efficient to shade the veneer this way rather than first cutting to final size then shading.
assembled parquetry image
With patience, after an hour or so you end up with something like this.  Note that all the pieces are stuck to the sticky side of the packing tape.  The packing tape will remain in place throughout the bent lamination process.

A closer look.

Urea Formaldehyde glue is used to create the laminated chair back.  This glue has a long working time and forms an absolutely rigid glue bond.  A rigid glue bond keeps the curved lamination from springing back after removal from the form.

We made several forms to speed up the process.  Each chair back lamination consists of seven 1/8 in thick pieces of cherry.  The parquetry pattern (still on the packing tape) is the outermost lamination.

After drying in the form for 12 hours the chair back is taken out and the packing tape is removed.  You can see we added the wider cherry bands on either side of the parquetry pattern to give the final appearance that the parquetry image is embedded in the solid cherry chair back.

All the curved parts for the chair backs are glue lamination are intentionally made over sized.  We made several table saw jigs like the one you see here to safely trim each piece to the correct length.  The curve on the form exactly matches the curve on the piece being cut.  This all begins with a single master template from which me make both the gluing form and these cutting jigs.

After final assembly it is time for finishing.  The finish we selected was a very thin seal coat of shellac followed by boiled linseed oil.  After the linseed oil is fully dried a polyurethane top coat is applied.