for me no comments on the design (no bias on your decisions), just comments on the "technical" parts
Haven't decided yet whether to cut my own veneers or not. I'd like to, but my saws aren't big enough to cut the ones for the cube. At least, I don't think they are...
given the time constraints, I think you're better off buying the veneer.
Otherwise you'll spend time setting the saw (sharp blades,
absolutely perpendicular to the saw table) and also on cleaning up
the saw marks (unless you have a precision drum sander)
This will be my first marquetry/veneering project so it will definitely be a stretch of my skill levels.
I'm planning on using Baltic birch as my substrate throughout. In order to keep it as green as possible, I'm going with Titebond !!! for the substrate and fish glue for the veneering.
Haven't decided on a finish yet. Leaning toward an oil and wax, but suggestions are welcome.
fish glue is appropriate when you glue metal to wood, as it have more "give"
than other animal glues.
what means do you have for gluing the veneer to the substrate?
if you have either a press (bunch of cauls and clamps will do)
or easier yet a vacuum press, I think it is better to use white/yellow glue
as they are "easier" (longer open time, no need to warm
the substrate) than hide glue.
In the case you can press the veneer to the table top
it is better to prepare the cubes
(I suppose it is this kind of cubes: http://www.artfinding.com/images/lot/_3 ... 986698.jpg
on a stretched caul of brown paper (as it is done in marquetry)
then apply the whole motif to the substrate.
Otherwise you can glue piece by piece with a hammer,
but this takes time and also easier to mess up than with the
stretched caul (PM me if you want more explanation on this.)
Regarding the finish, I really don't like oil, as it is definite on the wood
(cannot take it off). A nice thin sealing coat of veneer applied with a pad
(as in "french polish") followed by some coats of carnauba wax
(way better than bee's wax, more resistant, anti static and shinier)
also applied with a pad, then "dried off" with 99% alcohol (guess what,
with a pad) and you have a nice glossy finish.
ps. do not forget the edge banding around the ply with about 5mm of solid
whatever if not visible ("sipo" Entandrophragma utile
is a common option around here), or stock that matches the decor otherwise.