The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Shop sawn veneer without a drum sander

comments (7) April 12th, 2013 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, senior editor
thumbs up 7 users recommend

Veneers begin at the bandsaw. One face and one edge are jointed. Joint the bandsawn face after ever cut, so that every piece of veneer has one jointed face and one bandsawn face. Cut them very close to final thickness. Im aiming for 1/16 in. thick veneers, so Im cutting these a fat 3/32 in. thick.
Keep the stack in order. When you lay them out to create the veneer sheet, dont open them up like a book to create a book match. Instead, lay them out so that all of the bandsawn faces are on one side. That creates a slip match.
Glue up in sections. In my experience, its best to glue up 3 or fewer joints at a time when working with anything less than 1/8 in. thick. I put blue tape along the joint on the jointed faces, which allows me to open up the joint to glue into it.
Wedge power. After putting some weight on the veneer to keep it flat, push the wedges together to apply pressure to a long caul, which pushes all of the joint closed.
Apply edge banding before the veneer. The veneer hides the glue joint between the banding and plywood, and after youve chamfered the veneers edge slightly, the glue line between the veneer and banding disappears, too.
Plane the rough surface. Do this after the veneer panel has been glued to the plywood panel, jointed sides down. At this point, it pretty much like working solid wood, and because the panel is more than 1/4 in. thick, you dont have to worry about how youll clamp it, a really stop, or the like.
A proud back. I make my backs 1/8 in. thicker than the rabbet is deep, so when I hang it on the wall, theres a nice shadow line between the cabinet and wall.
Veneers begin at the bandsaw. One face and one edge are jointed. Joint the bandsawn face after ever cut, so that every piece of veneer has one jointed face and one bandsawn face. Cut them very close to final thickness. Im aiming for 1/16 in. thick veneers, so Im cutting these a fat 3/32 in. thick. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Veneers begin at the bandsaw. One face and one edge are jointed. Joint the bandsawn face after ever cut, so that every piece of veneer has one jointed face and one bandsawn face. Cut them very close to final thickness. I'm aiming for 1/16 in. thick veneers, so I'm cutting these a fat 3/32 in. thick.

Photo: Ed Pirnik

Here's how I make backs for wall cabinets: I take a piece of plywood, usually 1/4 in. thick, apply edge bandings, and then glue on some shop sawn veneers. I end up with a back that's 3/8 in. thick. Why do I make them that way? Well, I tend to make wall cabinets that are no more than 6 in. deep. I just don't like the way deeper cabinets poke out into the room. But when the cabinet is so shallow, most traditional methods for hanging the cabinet become a problem. A French cleat for a cabinet this size, for example, would need to be 1/4 in. - 3/8 in. thick. And you can't have it proud of the back, because then you have some unsightly gaps with light sneaking through between the wall and cabinet. And if you inset the cleat, you lose an equal amount of interior space on an already shallow cabinet. Add it's thickness to the thickness of the back and you're talking about 5/8 in. - 3/4 in. of depth lost. No good.

 

What I needed was a strong back that didn't take up too much space. Plywood is strong. So I started to explore how I could use it to make an attractive and strong back. I have done enough shopsawn veneer that I immediately thought of gluing some shopmade veneers to a plywood core. That took care of the attractiveness. I knew that a back made that way would be strong, but also about 3/16 in. thick. So, I decided to make the rabbet for the back just 1/4 in. thick and leave the back 1/8 in. proud of the cabinet. When put against the wall, you get a nice shadow line between the wall and cabinet.

 

Of course, making a back this way means making shopsawn veneer, which can be tough if you don't have a drum sander. Veneers, which should be no more than 1/8 in. thick, are really too thin to go through a planer. So how do you clean up both sides without a drum sander? Handplaning can work on short pieces, but the pieces needed for a back are too long and tend to bow up as you plane them.

 

My solution? Make a back from slip-matched veneers. Here's what I do.

1. Prepare the plywood core: cut it to size and glue on edge banding.
2. Joint one face and one edge of a thick board.
3. Cut the first piece of veneer.
4. Rejoint the face.
5. Cut the second piece of veneer.
6. Repeat until you as many pieces as you need.
7. Edge glue the individual pieces to create a wide sheet (How I do that.). Here's where the slip matching comes into play: All of the jointed faces end up on the same side of the sheet.
8. Glue the sheet down to the plywood, rough side up.
9. After gluing both the front and back sheets to the plywood, you can clean up the surfaces with a handplane or planer (I've done both) as you might a thick piece of solid wood.

 

So, slip matching gets around the problem of surfacing thin stock, because you can glue it to the core and then surface the veneer.

 

As for attaching the cabinet to the wall, I use two anchors and hide them behind drawers. For a small cabinet, I even have the anchors at the bottom of the cabinet, where I usually put drawers. They're so light and don't get weighed down, so there's no danger of the top pulling away from the wall.

 


posted in: blogs, wall cabinet, shopsawn veneer, french cleat


Comments (7)

MKenney MKenney writes: NikonD80,

As long as there is adequate support under the top, then it doesn't matter which one you use. However, I would probably opt for a high quality baltic birch plywood. Plywood holds screws much better than MDF and I assume you're going to screw the top to the base in some fashion. Also, high quality plywood won't have any voids in it.

Matt
Posted: 9:41 am on April 16th

NikonD80 NikonD80 writes: Perfect timing Matt - I'm planning a build that needs some veneer work. Could you give your opinion on MDF v Ply as the core? I've been reading up on this and the pros and cons from people seem pretty evenly matched. I'm thinking if veneering the table top of the dining table I'm building and haven't got the funds to allow for any mistakes.

Also which glue/s would you recommend?

cheers,
Jon

Posted: 6:56 am on April 16th

MKenney MKenney writes: JoeHorn,

Good question, and I should have been more clear about this. I am actually veneering both sides of the plywood. Definitely do both, or it will warp. Sorry for not saying that in the blog.
Posted: 12:36 pm on April 15th

JoeHorn JoeHorn writes: Do you have any problems with the panel warping since the veneer is only glued to one side? Or, is this not a problem since you are adding another "ply" to the plywood?
Posted: 10:51 am on April 15th

MKenney MKenney writes: mangledandrus,

I use a vacuum press for all of my veneering. I have the Vac Pro Plus kit vacuum press from veneersupplies.com. It works great. If you have a big enough compressor, you can use a bag up to 4 ft. by 9 ft.

Matt
Posted: 8:35 am on April 15th

mangledandrus mangledandrus writes: what method do you use to glue the veneer to the plywood? vacuum or cauls? I've been wanting to give this a try with some expensive wood and have been stalling out here. My project entails some larger panels and using 5/8" thick plywood to arrive at a 3/4" thick panel.
Posted: 8:50 pm on April 13th

vanpieters vanpieters writes: Mat using plywood? All joking aside, good tip.
Posted: 7:00 pm on April 12th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Advertise here for as little as $50. Learn how

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking

 

Become a Better Woodworker

ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX

FineWoodworking.com editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.

Learn about our new format!

Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.