Masters of the Craft

Masters of the Craft

Incredible table tricks the eye

comments (3) January 1st, 2013 in blogs

AsaC Asa Christiana, Special Projects Editor, Fine Woodworking magazine
thumbs up 13 users recommend

It is a beautiful Art Deco table on the outside.
But there is much more than meets the eye.
This drawing is the final version of a series of drafts.
It led to this marquetry image.
A magnetic key, hidden on the outside of the table, opens the interior.
Inside are more secret compartments, hidden seamlessly in the marquetry.
At the clients request, Thibodeau included hidden drink trays, which pop out on custom hardware with the touch of a finger.
The inlaid coaster is stainless steel, also custom, and polished to a high shine.
It is a beautiful Art Deco table on the outside. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

It is a beautiful Art Deco table on the outside.


Great pieces don't just happen; they are the culmination of many years of experimentation and practice. Much of what Craig Thibodeau has learned over a decade-and-a-half of professional furnituremaking is in his latest tour-de-force. He calls it simply, Art Deco Table with Trompe L'oeil Interior, and I love the understatement.

Although he has been building veneered furniture from the beginning and practicing marquetry almost as long, he says this is his first exploration into trompe l'oeil marquetry imagery. I especially admire the custom hardware he created to make the mechanics as seamless as the exquisite veneer work.

For Thibodeau's engaging video tour of the piece, click here.

And here he is on how the piece came about: "The table commission began as a nice Deco style table without any of the extra details. To that base we added the two pop-out drink trays in maple and ebony with polished stainless steel inserts. We then began discussing what to do with the interior space of the central column. A variety of ideas were tossed about until the client settled on a trompe l'oeil (French for "fool the eye") image hidden behind a secret door with a couple more secret areas hidden in the image."

And check this out: "We worked out a system of embedded magnets that would hold pieces in place but also allow them to be opened with a special magnetic key. The door is held closed by four magnets and there are additional magnets buried inside the hidden drawer and the outside face of the secret door. We decided the special magnetic key should be hidden somewhere on the outside of the table so it could be accessed easily but not seen. The key itself has been veneered to match the surrounding wood and is spring loaded so a gentle push makes it pop out. It then can be used to open the main secret door and also to pull out the hidden drawer. The small door in the image leads to a small space with a polished floor and arched ceiling. The veneer for the walls and ceiling gradually change to darker colors as they go deeper into the cavity to increase the sense of depth."

This is clearly a piece done without compromise, which is always a precious thing, but even more so in today's corporate world. By the way, the table is 38″ wide by 19″ wide by 30″ high, and main wood species are pau ferro, quilted maple, Macassar ebony, and various marquetry woods. 


posted in: blogs, table, veneer, marquetry, art deco


Comments (3)

Craig_T Craig_T writes: Grantman, yes some of the magnets are embedded under the veneer while others are thicker and covered with thin felt pads. The magnets that hold the door closed and the larger one that opens it are all epoxied into holes in the door then veneered over. The one in the drawer face is done the same way. The magnet in the key is a thicker rare earth magnet that is epoxied into a hole and covered with a thin felt pad so it doesn't scratch the finish when it touches the door and drawer.

Posted: 8:41 pm on January 2nd

AsaC AsaC writes: I'll ask him.
Posted: 7:00 pm on January 2nd

Grantman Grantman writes: That magnetic key is pretty slick. Did he embed a magnet under the veneer?
Posted: 2:43 pm on January 2nd

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