Opions sought on veneer and finish options

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Blog entry by BobTheFish posted 07-07-2011 03:25 AM 4431 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Recently I purchased an old side table, which I totally fell in love with:

After removing an ad hoc shelf that was nailed to the bottom cross brace, sanding it down a bit, regluing a few joints, and tightening some of the bolts underneath, I felt like it was quite beautiful indeed. But the veneer on the top was wearing thin in a few spots:

So, of course, I go to my veneers planning on putting something over top of it (after I sand the rest of the old off of course)

Thing is, I don’t really have much that will match it perfectly, and don’t really feel like spending a fair amount purchasing veneer specifically for this project. But I can’t decide on what to use.

So here’s a few pictures of the veneers I have available for use, and I’m simply asking for opinions on what might be the best veneer visually with this simple table.

Veneer 1:

Veneer 2:

Veneer 3:

Veneer 4:

Veneer 5:

Veneer 5 different layout:

Veneer 6 (good old sapelle, which I have obscene amounts of):

The other question is about what sort of finish you might think would look best: I want to stick with what I have stock on, so there’s wipe on poly in semigloss and satin, BLO, and butcher’s wax….

Or I can just sand a little and leave it rather plain jane, which is appealing.

In short, the problem that I’m facing is that I just can’t really decide.

Also, I have another table (kind of a KD piece), which I figure I might just strip and veneer. Not crazy about working on top of knotty pine, but I figure if I fill the knots a little bit, give it a nice cleaning for adherence, I might be able to just go nuts, and play around with different veneers and arrangements.

Since I primarily work on plywood when veneering, advice on working directly on such a wood would be also helpful.

Here’s a bonus pic of that little project and an idea for veneer arrangement I already and thinking up:

and a closeup:

Thank you in advance for all your help.

5 comments so far

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 3527 days

#1 posted 07-07-2011 03:26 AM

oh yes, I forgot. I might also consider doing the drawer face in the same veneer for some cohesion.

View Porchfish's profile


862 posts in 3507 days

#2 posted 07-07-2011 03:48 AM

  1. 1 is contrasty and classy ,#4 is a gorgeous book match but a might dressy for the style of table and sapele is a safe choice. This is a matter of taste and you won’t go far wrong with any of the six veneers.
    I have always let the lamination choice determine the finish selected. If you have veneer presses and will be using a yellow glue, sky is the limit. If you are lucky enough to own a vacuum press set up same holds true. If you use a contact cement, regardless of type, any penetrating finish like BLO or Tung or Watco or Behlens etc. I have experienced glue failure with penetrating finishes and contact cement. , Looks like a fun project , and a worthy one. Enjoy it ! Of course you’ll show us your finished project. Thanks for sharing and asking.

Your Florida friend, Don S.

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View shipwright's profile


8655 posts in 3773 days

#3 posted 07-07-2011 04:00 AM

I like #2 and #4.

The one option that Don didn’t mention for glue, and my personal choice, would be hammer veneering with hide glue. You can cut and match your pieces in place, cut in edge trim if you like and apply any finish you want, and you don’t have to remove the top from the table. or have any kind of press at all.

Of course this is just my bias.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View zlatanv's profile


691 posts in 4209 days

#4 posted 07-07-2011 04:18 AM

I know it wasn’t a choice, but, I like the last two pics of the birds eye with a more figured sapelle framing it. Not sure if it is worth it on this table, but it would make a nice top.

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 3527 days

#5 posted 07-11-2011 04:02 PM

Well, thanks everyone for the comments and input.

I went with #4 as everyone seemed to like, but ran into some issues. The pieces had a bit more chipping and cracking than expected, and once accounted for, the two pieces themselves didn’t have enough to cover the top. So I framed that out with a bit of curly maple.

I wasn’t in the best frame of mind that day, so I have to admit, I also had some glue issues, which resulted in bubbles. A comedy of errors ensued, as I tried to glue them back into place, to repair the damage, and then sanded. I put on a finish, only to notice the wood is distinctly redder than anticipated, and the finish brought out some of the areas I thought were sanded significantly enough, though apparently were not.

Then the seams started to appear in my veneer work (it happens, though this was one of the worst cases), and glue marks.

Right now, I feel like I let down a fair number of those of you that had high hopes for the project, but I’m not quite hopeless yet. I plan on resanding, scraping off my veneer, and starting over again. I’ll probably go with the sapelle because, unfortunately, those where the only two piece of that burl I had.

Easy come, easy go. I’ll find some more eventually. :)

Pics will follow when the project has been totally completed.. again.

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