How to Build Beautiful Cases from Plywood
Smart joinery turns eye-catching panels into sturdy furniture
Synopsis: There’s a lot of creative freedom in building cases with veneered panels. Veneer makes it possible to use a variety of exotic woods and dramatic figure, and wrapping those patterns around the entire case piece. Veneered panels also make it possible to use an entirely different look for the inside of the case. Craig Thibodeau has been building furniture this way for years, and shares his methods so the experience will be easier for you. It starts with the substrate, then moves on to design and joinery, whether you choose a frame-and-panel case or the smooth look of a mitered case piece.
A lot of articles have been written about making veneered panels with a vacuum bag. Most of these take you as far as trimming the panel and popping it into a door frame, or maybe applying edging and turning that panel into a tabletop. Those techniques are important, but there’s much more you can do.
I’ve been building entire case pieces with veneered panels for years. With them, I can make pieces that are simply not possible with traditional methods. I love the creative freedom: the variety of exotic woods and dramatic figure available, the ability to make patterns with these veneers (see Master Class, FWW #240), and then being able to wrap these woods and patterns around an entire piece. Another great benefit of veneered panels is that I can give the interior of a case a completely different look.
Although there is not a lot of information available on building furniture this way, I’ve learned how to make the process easy and the results flawless. The first secret lies inside the panel itself.
The core is the heart of the method
How you build with veneered panels depends a lot on what…