The Best Way to Match Solid Wood and Veneer Is to Make the Veneer Yourself.
by John English
Sometimes you just fall in love with a special kind of wood. For me, that wood is quartersawn sycamore, but I've never had a chance to build something big that would really show it off. When my wife and I needed a new pantry for our kitchen, we found that commercial units were way too expensive, not very well crafted and used boring wood. I volunteered to make it myself. Out of sycamore, of course.
For ease of construction, I designed a pantry composed of four separate units. They're standard plywood boxes with face frames and overlay doors. The problem was, I didn't want to spend big bucks on custom-made quarter-sawn sycamore plywood. I considered buying some sycamore veneer and gluing it to a substrate myself, but then, I thought, it might not match the solid wood in the face frames.
My solution was to make my own thick veneer and design the boxes so I could mill all the parts on my 6-in. jointer, 14-in. bandsaw and 12-in. planer. It worked great, although I needed lots of clamps!
To build this pantry, you'll need about 60 bd. ft. of 4/4 quartersawn sycamore or a similar light-colored species, 10 bd. ft. of clear walnut, two sheets of 1/2-in. birch plywood and four sheets of 3/4-in. birch plywood. I prefer high-quality multi-ply plywood for casework. It has several more laminations than standard birch plywood, fewer voids, holds fasteners better and is generally more stable, flat and uniform.
IThis pantry really shows off the distinctive figure of quartersawn sycamore.To make thick veneer from sycamore boards, re-saw the best pieces down the middle.
2 For the sides of the tall outer cabinets, glue the veneer to a plywood substrate, using curved cauls to distribute pressure. Run the panels through a planer to clean up the bandsawn surfaces.
1) Select seven 6-in. wide, 8-ft. long sycamore boards for re-sawing into veneer. Look for boards with the most interesting grain patterns. Plane the boards to 3/4 in. thick, then resaw them down the middle (Photo 1). Mark pieces from the same board so you can bookmatch them later.
2) Cut the side unit's plywood parts (T2 to T6).
3) Glue a pair of the veneers (Tl) to the cabinet's sides (T2). You may have to joint these pieces first to make a tight seam. Use twelve pairs of cauls to glue each side (Photo 2).
4) Use a flush-trim router bit to even the veneer with the plywood's edges. Run the glue-up through a planer until the
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