Veneer the core pieces. Pollaro veneers a single mahogany core piece from which the box sides and ends will lxi cut This takes less time than veneering parts individually. The outer cauls are Ify -in.-thick MDF. The inner cauls are ty^-in.-thick, melamine-coated particleboard.
Veneer the edges. Strips of melamine-coated particleboard make good clamping cauls for veneering the edges of side and end pieces.
Making <1 small, intricate veneer project doesn't mean veneering lots of tiny parts. You don't need elaborate vacuum-veneering or veneer-press equipment either. Bar clamps, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and melamine-coated particleboard (MCP) will handle your glue-ups. I recommend a good, sharp veneer saw for trimming veneer flush.
My cutting and veneering sequence avoids a lot of fussy work and also gives you the crisp edges and joints that woodworkers and customers appreciate. Major steps are described below and in the photos on these two pages. •Veneer the sides, ends, top, and bottom. I veneered a single 5-in. x 16-in. piece of 7/j^-in.-thick mahogany for the box sides and ends. The core for the top and bottom pieces is I/4-in.-thick MDF. Clamps and cauls can handle this glue-up. (See Photo 1.)
•Sand the veneered pieces. Scrape glue squeeze-out from the faces and edges of your stock and sand it to 220 grit. •Cut the sides and ends to finished dimensions. Rip these parts to width first, then miter the ends.
•Cut spline slots in the miters. The tablesaw setup I use for this job is shown in Photo 2. Make sure your saw blade is set to a true 45* angle.
•Veneer the edges of the side and end pieces. Short lengths of J/4-in.-thick MCP work well as cauls for this glue-up. (See Photo 3.)
•Trim the veneered edges flush. A sharp veneer saw makes quick work of this job. (See Photo 4.)
•Cut grooves and rabbets. The top and bottom panels are rabbeted to fit in grooves that are cut in sides and ends. (See drawing, previous page.) I lay out these joints so that the bottom fits flush and the top is recessed V)6 in. Trim off the rabbeted corners on the top and bottom so that the splines can extend the full length of their slots. (See photo, previous page.) Then cut and test-fit the splines.
•Glue up the box. I use two band clamps to close the box corners around the top and bottom. Then I pull the joints tight with deep-throated bar clamps.
•Cut the box apart. Use a high auxiliary fence on the table-
Trim the veneer. A sharp veneer saw is all you need to trim excess veneer from sides and ends.
Sand the top and bottom flat. Sheets of sandpaper glued to an MDF base provide a flat abrasive surface. To flatten the mating edges of the top and bottom, apply even downward pressure and move each piece in a figure-eight pattern.
Cut the box apart. A high, flat auxiliary fence promotes control when separating the box top and bottom. Pollaro sets the blade 1/Jf> in. higher than box side thickness.
Cover the exposed core edges of the top and bottom assemblies with a single sheet of veneer. After the glue dries, flush-trim the veneer and file the inside corners square.
saw, and set blade height just a tad (V^ in.) higher than your side thickness. (See Photo 5.)
•Flatten the inner edges. It's crucial to remove any sawmarks or other irregularities on the surfaces you've just cut. This is easy if you have a sanding board like mine. (See Photo 6.) Make one by using spray adhesive to glue standard 9x11 sandpaper sheets to both sides of an MDF base. I put 120-grit sandpaper on one side for initial flattening, and 220-grit on the other for finishing up.
• Veneer the inner edges. Glue and clamp the top and bottom to separate sheets of veneer. (See Photo 7.) When the glue has dried, flush-trim the veneer with a laminate trimmer (or router) and a flush-trim bit. Square up the inside corners with a mill file.
• Install hinges and feet. I mortise a pair of Brusso brass hinges into the top and bottom. Then I install four turned tagua nut feet. (See Sources.) Brass bar stock and hardwood scraps can also Ik? fashioned into attractive feet.
•Add some options. The basic box is complete and ready for finishing, unless you want to add some options, as I did. One is the holly inlay that frames the panel on the top of my box. The four inlay pieces are mitered together where they join at the corners, and fit in shallow routed grooves. In the center of each side and end, I inlaid a Vg-in.-dia. tagua nut dot. Finally, I built an inner tray to make the lx>x more useful for storing small items. I made my tray from satinwood, dovetailing the corners, dividing it according to the golden rectangle, and then adding a liner of suede over foam. No jewel could ask for a finer home. If you're making a tray, add ledger strips to the bottom of your box and you'll gain a lower compartment. (See drawing, page 57.)
•Make it "'pop." Great veneer deserves a great finish. Three coats of gloss lacquer, sprayed on and rubbed out, really make the satinwood glow. A
Frank Pollaro owns a custom furniture shop in northern New Jersey. He is also a partner in the Flamingo Specialty Veneer Co., which supplied the veneer for this project.
Was this article helpful?