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Weird Woodworking Tools

comments (8) August 2nd, 2010 in blogs

Ed_Pirnik Ed Pirnik, Senior Web Producer
thumbs up 7 users recommend

This old dissection kit makes for a great veneer repair kit.
Inside, theres all manner of scalpels, tweezers and other manipulation devices. Great tools for delicate veneer!
The patient in question is this humidor of rosewood, wenge, and spanish cedar I milled and brought back from Cuba. My vacuum bag had some pressure issues which resulted in two small bubbles in the top surface. Time to go in for a repair.
This old dissection kit makes for a great veneer repair kit. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

This old dissection kit makes for a great veneer repair kit.

Photo: Ed Pirnik

I love tools. I have always loved tools. I will continue to love tools until I draw my last breath. One of the symptoms of that affliction is the pleasure I get out of repurposing devices meant to serve other purposes. Case in point: I've been working on a rather detailed humidor project for the past few months and recently hit a snag.

The Patient
The humidor is built primarily of mahogany, chosen for its stability and the fact that at the time I began the project, I was out of Spanish cedar thick enough to form the basic box. The box will eventually be lined with some thinly-milled Spanish cedar I brought back from Pinar del Rio (that's Cuba's tobacco country) and a lid lift made from iron I recovered from an 18th century cannon situated within the old Spanish fortress that guards the entrance to the Bay of Havana (I picked up some of the oxidized chunks that have fallen off the canons over the years). Pretty cool, huh!? Anyhow, the mahogany was covered in rosewood veneer and that's where I hit the snag.

The Problem
I used a vacuum bag to apply my veneer and acheived a flawless glue-job on all the veneered faces, except for one: the lid. Something happened with my vacuum while gluing up the top and I lost pressure overnight. This resulted in a lid which was, for-the-most-part, perfectly glued save for two spots where the rosewood puckered up due to poor contact.

The Solution

I needed to find a way to get glue in beneath the rosewood in those two spots but was terrified of possibly undoing all my hardwork via a poor repair job. The solution I found was my mother's old dissection kit, recovered from the depths of a dusty box in my parents' basement. The kit contains a variety of interesting tools, including scalpels, needle-type probe devices, and spatulas, all of which are perfect for cutting a small slice into the veneer bubbles and manipulating the thin wood in such a way that I can squeeze in just a bit of glue before clamping (with some custom cauls). This kit worked out great and I'm wondering if anyone else out there has had luck with repurposing odd tools and devices for the workshop. If you have, let me know. I'd love to hear!

More on Veneer

• Tuning and Using a Veneer Saw  
• How Veneer is Made 
How to Veneer a Sunburst 

posted in: blogs, Humidor, veneer repairs, vacuum bag, press, furniture repair

Comments (8)

GlennD62 GlennD62 writes: You can get hypodermic needles and syringes from a farm supply store. They can be disposable or reusable syringes.
Posted: 1:23 pm on December 16th

GlennD62 GlennD62 writes: I'm not sure what part of the country you are located in, but you should try a farm supply store for your hyperdermic needle needs. We have a number of chains in our area where you can purchase either disposable or reusable syringes and needles. We use them for treating our livestock and pets. I also use them for injecting glues under veneers or into cracks frequently. There is a vast assortment of sizes available. They are inexpensive also, usually less than $1.00 for the disposabble type.
Posted: 1:20 pm on December 16th

johnjnault johnjnault writes: Just found the exact same kit in Gramps tool drawers and wondered its original purpose. Thanks for the info.
Posted: 12:26 am on December 10th

VT_Type_S VT_Type_S writes: Whitechapel Hardware sells really nice scalpels:

Posted: 10:50 am on August 26th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: Hi Aaron: Yup, this little kit is fantastic. Only trouble is, it's tough to get a hold of hypodermic needles, which are fantastic for injecting glue precisely where you want it. Anyhow, glad you've had the same luck!

Posted: 8:56 pm on August 2nd

aaronpetersen aaronpetersen writes: I've used a scalpel to fix bubbles for years. My dad was a doc and he used to bring blades home for me. Nothing cuts as precisely and the seams are virtually invisible.
Posted: 6:16 pm on August 2nd

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: saschafer: Edmund Scientific! I had forgotten about those folks. I used to love pouring through the thick catalog when I was a kid. Thanks for the memory.


Posted: 11:18 am on August 2nd

saschafer saschafer writes:
You can get a basic dissection kit from Edmund Scientific ( for about $10. You can get fancier kits from Carolina Biological Supply (, but I think they may only sell to businesses and schools.


Posted: 11:11 am on August 2nd

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