I’ve been toying around with marquetry for a while now, but I wanted to learn more about working with veneer in general, so in August I took a class. What I thought was going to be a technique class turned out to be a technique class with a project.

On day one, during the introduction to the class, we were shown an example of the cabinet that we were going to complete. It was a nice little hanging cabinet made from curly maple veneer over MDF and embellished with parquetry and inlay. We were told that we didn’t have to copy the example and would be free to come up with our own parquetry* designs as long as it wrapped around one edge and continued into the door of the cabinet.

The problem I had was that my focus shifted. Instead of paying attention to learning techniques, I began thinking about design (and how I was going to impress my wife). But the more I looked at the cabinet trying to visualize what I was going to do, the more I realized the cabinet was designed to teach techniques, not to be (necessarily) pretty.

For instance, the crest rail (can you call it that if it’s not a chair?) has two tight radii that challenge problem solving skills. Add to that the small rounded over corners and the edges became more complex than I originally thought they would be. In hindsight, I’m most proud of the crest rail because it was the most technical.


I ended up ditching any idea of an original design and chose to copy the example to focus on learning the techniques. I still ended up with a decent cabinet, but the real payoff was the education and what I might be able to do with it in the future.


*Marquetry and parquetry are often confused. Marquetry generally refers to pictures created with wood or other materials. Parquetry generally refers to geometric shapes and patterns. I have no idea what you call it if the geometric shapes make a picture.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Uncle Dougie says:

    Hi. Was that the class at Marc Adams School?


    1. Eric Key says:

      Yes it was and it was a fantastic class. The title was Veneering: A Course of Action for Furniture Making with Adams. Have you taken it?


  2. John says:

    If the geometric shapes make a picture isn’t that a mosaic?


    1. Eric Key says:

      Beats me. I can’t seem to keep it all straight. 🙂


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