The name hints that this low-lying, austere table might have origins connected with the clergy, but it was actually first crafted at the Paris branch of New York City-based Parsons School of Design. The simple, clean lines of a Parsons table make it ideal for embellishment; Martha Stewart Living style editor Tom Tamborello shows you how to create a striking optical pattern on its surface using three different types of wood veneer.

Tools and Materials

  • Three 24-by-24-inch pieces of self-adhesive veneer (one each of maple, teak, and mahogany)
  • Parsons table
  • Cutting tool
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • T-square

Parsons Table How-To

1. Print out the templates. The first template depicts the completed tabletop. The second template provides patterns for the diamond-shaped pieces and a guide for fitting the pieces together. Use a pencil to mark off the borders of the design on your tabletop (our table measured 35 3/8 by 21 5/8 inches).

2. Cut several 2 5/8-inch strips of adhesive veneer in each type of wood. Trace the diamond onto the veneer, and cut the shapes out with a mat knife, rotary cutter, scissors, or paper cutter.

3. Peel off the adhesive backing from a maple-veneer shape, and place it at one corner, inside the border, making sure it isn't lopsided. Continue placing the diamonds, referring to the pattern for correct positioning. Test each diamond for fit before peeling off the adhesive backing; if you make a mistake, you can try to peel off the veneer, but there's a strong possibility it will break. If that happens, repeat the step with a new piece. To finish the design, use half and quarter pieces, fitting them into the gaps and trimming if necessary.

4. Cut out strips of veneer to fill in the space around the finished designs. For this table, we used a 3 1/8-inch border on the short side and 2 1/4-inch border on the longer edge. These border strips should abut the design.

5. You can either trim the edges of the border or sand them down for a perfect edge. Give the entire veneer a light sanding using fine, 220-grit sandpaper. Finish with your favorite wood-finishing product.

Note: Small gaps between the diamond shapes often become apparent once they're laid out on the table surface. To disguise them, go over the area with the fine-grit sandpaper and apply your choice of wood-finishing product as instructed.


We used 35 3/8-by-21 5/8-inch table by "LACK"; Adhesive "pressure sensitive veneer," which was available at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware and The Woodworkers Club.


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