RMG Shield logo Redbridge Group Header Logo RMG Shield logo
Basket Weave & Trellis Work
by Alf Murtell

Animation Alf tutorials 3
Firstly, we will take a look at Basket Weave, this is actually quite simple to do once you know the techniques. It may look intricate and terribly delicate, but when you become familiar with the methods we use for doing basket weave you will be decorating boxes and things with total confidence. Now, the first thing to check is that you have all the bits and pieces you'll need for doing basket weave to hand, so lets check our list:


  •  Cutting board with a lip along one edge
  •  2 x blocks of wood 1½” x ¾” x ¼” (metric 38 x 19 x 6 mm)
  •  Masking tape or veneer tape
  •  Stringer 1/16” (metric 1. 5 mm)
  •  Sand for sand scorching
  •  Sycamore veneer
Basket weave example 4 wood blocks
Alf shows the wood blocks Alf shows cutting board
What we do now is cut out our sycamore blanks ready for sand scorching along their sides to provide the contoured effect we require for the basket weave effect. This we do by cutting strips about 4 inches in length (101 mm) by 3/4" wide (19 mm) - you set the width by using the wood blocks as Alf shows you in this photo below on the right below you will want to cut about four or five pieces which you then sand scorch along their "long sides" to give you the contoured effect.

You will now need some stringers for placing between your sand scorched pieces as in "Example 1" (stringers by the way are very thin strips of veneer, usually a sixteenth or an eighth or a quarter of an inch in width, that's about 1.6 or 3. 2 or 6. 3 mm) and then you glue and tape them in position as you see in this example. The arrangement is: one strip then one stringer, then strip, stringer, strip, etc.
Basket weave example 1

The next step is to cut thin strips 1/4" (6 mm) wide from the assembly you've now got as shown in Example 1 above. As you will be cutting across the grain, take care with your cutting and make sure that you lubricate your cutting blade by dipping the tip of the blade in some wax so that it cuts easily without "pulling" or catching on the grain and breaking the veneer instead of cleanly cutting it.

Alf places wooden blocks

Basket weave example 2
You will now have a collection of thin strips similar to those shown in "Example 2". Your next step is to arrange them by moving every second strip one half of a single vertical section to the left so that you end up with an arrangement as you will see in "Example 3" on the right >> then glue and tape them into position.
Basket weave example 3

Trellis Work

Well here we are at Trellis work. You're first step is to decide what background veneer you wish to use, this is the veneer that will show through the trellis work, so you will want one that complements your trellis effect. The most important consideration will be the initial marking out of your background veneer. Alf suggests that you can either tape over the background veneer so that you can mark out on the tape, or you can use a white "leaded" pencil to mark out directly onto the veneer

Trellis Work Materials Requirements:


  • Cutting board with a lip along one edge
  • 2 x blocks of wood 1½” x ¾” x ¼” (metric 38 x 19 x 6 mm)
  • Masking tape or veneer tape
  • Sand for sand scorching
  • Veneer: Sycamore, Mahogany or Walnut
Trellis effect example 1

The above illustration shows the background veneer after it has been taped over and marked out with a 1/4" grid (6 mm). It is essential to accurately mark out the grid to ensure a uniform trellis pattern.

Alf cuts first strip Alf dips piece in hot sand

As with Basket weave, Alf cuts some more strips of sycamore and scorches them along their "long sides", but this time Alf doesn't use any stringers. Alf joins them together as you will see in Example 2, Alf then cuts them into strips (as you will see in Example 3) by using the methods shown in the above left hand photo so that he ends up with several quarter inch (6 mm) thick strips to build his pattern from.

Trellis effect example 2 Alf cuts trellis slot
Trellis effect example 3

An important difference here from the basket weave tutorial is that you don't glue the strips together, because you will want to insert each 1/4" x 3/4" (19 x 6 mm) piece into the slots you cut in the background veneer. To illustrate this point take a look at "Example 4" on the right of this text >>

This example of trellis work is shown in the vertical layout.

The shorter ends you see in this example are only 1/4" x 3/4" pieces cut in half. The dark bits you see between the "pieces" are the background veneer with the covering tape peeled away.

After the individual pieces have been inserted into the background veneer they are then held in position with a smear of white PVA glue rubbed into the cuts.

Trellis effect example 4
"Example 4" showing window and piece
ready for insertion.
Trellis effect example 5

"Example 5" above shows trellis work set out in a diagonal layout.

Again, the dark area's between the "trellis strips" are the background veneer with the covering tape peeled off.

Alf builds up the trellis pattern
Alf shows trellis example Alf shows finished examples

Well, there we have Alf's lecture on Trellis work. As you can see on the example Alf is showing the audience in the above photo, the trellis work makes a wonderful decoration for a small box. We hope you are finding Alf's lectures are helping you with your marquetry. Alf will be back with some more demonstrations and lectures over the next few months, so that is something you should find will be well worth looking forward to.