Larry Ciesla

rose table

Here is a small occasional table I created to hone my marquetry skills.  The top is about 18 inches in diameter and consists of a 10-way radial match walnut veneer pattern into which I placed 10 rose images.  As you can see the roses flow around the table in a regular pattern.  The table top is made from MDF and note the 1 inch solid walnut edge surrounding the top.  The legs are "Malloof" style legs that have an organic look, as though they were eminating from a tree trunk.  The legs are from walnut and splined with cherry spines.

To create the field for the marquetry in this tabletop, I made a 10-way radial match.  For a detailed explaination of how to do a radial match check out my article on the subject.

Here is a closeup of one of the roses.
Here is the working cartoon of one of the roses.  Each rose has 20 individual parts, and with 10 roses, the marquetry has a total of 200 individual parts.

The dots you see in the picture designate where each part is to be sandshaded.  The parallel lines you see indicate grain direction.
The process begins with a stack of at least 10 pieces of veneer.  Note the plastic 10-way radial match template on the left.  The template is used to set the width of the mirrors you see that I've secured temporarily with a piece of blue tape to keep the mirrors at about the same angle as the template.  By moving the mirror around the surface of a sheet of veneer, I can visualize the pattern that will emerge when all 10 pieces are cut from below where the mirror is positioned, then arranged in a radial match.
After I've located the position on the stack of veneer where I want to make the cut, I use a veneer saw to cut thru all 10 pieces of veneer at once.  Here you see the packet of veneer just after I completed the first cut.  Next I'll use a sanding block on the edge to sand away any rough spots.
Here I've arranged the pieces as they'll be in the finished table top.
The process of assembling the radial match begins by using blue tape to secure two edges together.
Next I flip the taped pieces together and use veneer tape to secure the seam.
Here is the fully taped veneer top.  I created one rose image and scanned it into my computer.  Next I used an image processing program to make six copies of the image each scaled differently.  Here I've placed this over the top trying to decide which of the scaled images best fits.
Having selected the size of the rose I want, next is made several copies and cut each out.  I've positioned each copy under a piece of vellum arranging the roses as I want them to appear in the finished project.  Note that I'm working on 1/2 of the table top.  When I actually cut the marquetry images, I'll fold the table veneer in half and only cut five roses out.  Later I'll unfold the veneer giving me 10 roses that are a mirror image of each other.

In this particular step I'm happy with the position of the roses and I'm using a pencil to copy each rose on the vellum.  When complete, I made several copies of the image to be used as you see below.
This step is a bit tricky to explain.  I've taken a copy of the cartoon and layed it on top of the folded radial match veneer, then secured it in place with blue tape.  I've selected the veneer I want for the rose petals, leaves, and branch.  I've built on top of each image a packet of veneer out of which the image will be eventualy cut. 

Note the poplar veneer I've placed over where the leaves are.  There are actually two pieces of veneer, back-to-back, for each leaf.  I need two because I'll be cutting two leaves at the same time.  The same logic is repeated for the rose petals and the branch. 

I like to use clear packing tape to hold all the piecies in place.  I've found that clear packing tape holds everything securely, and provides some lubrication to the scroll saw blade as I'm cutting out the packets.
Here is the finished packet ready for the scroll saw.  The image I'll be cutting lies exactly over the packets of veneer I've arranged under it and the background veneer. 
I didn't take any photos of the actuall scroll saw work, but here you can see the end result.  The dixie cups you see placed above each rose contain the individual parts that I cut from the pattern.  Since each rose has twenty components, and I've cut two roses simultaneously, each stack of cups contains forty components.  I had to resort to dixie cups because the shear number of components made it too difficult to use the normal grid system I would use for fewer components.
I've skipped a lot of steps, but here you can see the finished skin just after I trimmed it using template I cut from MDF you see in the picture.  To hold the veneer securely under the template I placed a few pieces of sticky sandpaper, then trimmed with a utility knife.  The trimmed skin is still oversized and will be trimmed a final time after the final glueup.

Note that you are looking at the "glue" side of the skin. 
Here is the top just after coming out of the vacuum press.  All the veneer tape you see will have to be carefully removed.
Removing the veneer tape is done by thoroughly soaking the tape with water and waiting for the glue to be reactiviated.  I carefully scrape the wet veneer tape off using a specially sharpened scraper you see here.
After an hour or so of scraping, the tape is removed and the top is ready for sanding.
After applying the solid wood edge and an application of top coat.