Monday, April 18, 2016

Veneering a round apron!

Currently I am making a custom round breakfast table and four chairs. The wood of choice for this project is mostly American Ash, with the only exception being the apron of the table being made from Tulip Poplar. The aprons will be cross banded with 1/16 poplar and than veneered with ash.  The reason for cross banding the rim is to stabilization and reduce wood movement. 

Before veneering the aprons I toothed the substrate. The tool of choice is a jig saw blade in a kerf of scrap wood.  Toothing the surface ensures good adhesion and visually showcases a flat and consistent substrate.  I will be using Old Brown Hide Glue simply because of the open time, the lack of finishing concerns, and if some how I screwed something up I can reverse it.  More importantly I don't have to be careful with the glue and clean up is easy. 

Toothing the substrate.

To glue the veneers down I needed to make a ton of clamping fixtures. The clamping fixture is nothing than two pieces of plywood with screws bored into them at a width wider than the apron and veneer. I can't take any credit for this of this method. I first learned this technique from Master Will Neptune and he learned it from Tage Frid.  

Clamping fixture. Top plywood piece gets an oversized holes.
The lover plywood is bored for smaller to grab the treads.

To make these cauls work you must use quality multiply plywood and bore the holes to the top and bottom caul exactly in the same location. The top caul will have a hole bored into it that well oversized for the coarse dry wall screw. The bottom will caul will have a proper hole bored to ensure the threads of the screw will bit and pull the upper clamping call down.

Cutting 1/16 inch thick veneer to oversized width.
The tool of choice the French flush saw/veneer saw.

Jointing edges of veneer. The length of veneer was determined by the distance between bridal joint.  
Jointing lengths of end grain veneer straight in a french style shooting board.
Making certain the length of veneer line up straight. 

The Packer 3S is an essential tool if regularly working with veneer.

Seaming the joint. Every joint gets at least 3 horizontal strips of veneer tape.
When applying the veneer tape make sure to pull the tap at the ends.
Allowing the tape to dry will help further pull the joint tight at the seam.
Lastly apply one one vertical strip of veneer to strengthen the seam. 

Laying the veneer on the rim and ensuring I have enough in length and width. 

Clamping cauls in place. Spacing between each caul is roughly 3/4 of an inch. 

Bending plywood  or wacky wood it is also call was added on top of the veneer as a backing.
I applied packing tape to the face of the veneer to ensure the wacky wood wouldn't stick. 

As you can see there are a ton of clamping cauls were necessary.
I used blue tape in the center and on both ends to help ensure alignment. 
The most important concern is to ensure there is enough overhang on each edge of the rim. 

I made sure to applied glue on each surface and in every seam.
Some visual squeeze out is okay. 
The bricked rim with 100's of clamping cauls.
Clients will never truly understand the efforts. This is why I blog about it. 

Flushing the veneer to the rim. Next is round 2. Veneering the Ash show veneer. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Steam Bending Kiln Dried Wood

Recently I needed to steam bend some American Ash for a prototype chair commission. I am not a fan of steam bending kiln dried lumber, but due to time restraints this is all I could find.  The lean of the upper back posts is 2 inches from vertical. I made the clamping fixture with a 21/2 inch lean for the expected/guessed spring back. 

When steam bending thick material a common rule is for every inch in thickness means at least one hour in the steam box. I broke the so called rule for it took 4 hours in the steam box to bend the back posts in position.  I allow the bend to set for several days before removing them from the fixture. The spring back was almost perfectly estimated. 

Bending fixture.  

Pine steam box screwed together. Dowels to hold parts.
A wallpaper steamer was the tool of choice. 

Forms with dowels and folding wedges to hold the bend in place. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Luxury of Mahogany

Many have said the world was once shaped by the trading, importing, and exporting of wood.  The wood of luxury for early America was no other than Mahogany.  What wood other than Mahogany would have been covered for 6 out 7 courses in a meal and than showcased in desert course.

Mahogany is truly a joy to work with. I often compare the joy of working with mahogany to Eastern White  Pine.  Over my short 16 year career in furniture making and repair one thing is certain, the quality of Mahogany has gotten worse. But what choice do restorers have when needing Mahogany for a historic home or piece of furniture? Well I think we need to start thinking long and hard on how our love for Mahogany effects the world.  If interested in understanding the effects of such a luxury material than please read the following link: Mahogany's last stand.   

Today I don't purchase much or if any exotic materials of recent import.  What I do own for exotic materials is either from my early days in the field when I didn't know better or simply old stock from estates. I think craftspeople today should enjoy local domestic woods that have been harvested in a sustainable manner.


Mahogany Seed Pod