End table set - build #8: Veneering the top

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Blog entry by Ottacat posted 02-05-2014 01:27 PM 2118 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Ebonizing the legs Part 8 of End table set - build series Part 9: Adding the frame »

Veneering a top when your veneer is already big enough that you can do it by trimming down the veneer to fit the table top size is quite easy. You don’t have to worry about doing any jointing and taping pieces together.

The pelin burl I ordered was the first species I’ve used that wasn’t naturally flat. Fortunately had also ordered some flattening solution from Veneer Supplies for just such a situation. My single sheet of veneer was big enough for both table tops and even a spare. I started by rough cutting them oversized. Given the veneer was rippled and a bit brittle I had to do this carefully. I slightly split one piece because of this so I quickly added blue tape.

Next I soaked down all the pieces in flattening solution and let it soak in.

Once they were flexible I put them on sheets of absorbent towels and placed them between two sheets of MDF. Ideally I would then have placed the assembling in a vacuum press for the 2-day drying period but my vacuum press is the continuous run type and I didn’t want it running for two days. So I put the sandwich on the floor and then piled on every heavy thing in my shop – a portable planer, my compressor and a few other things.

After two days the veneer was nice and flat and I did my veneering using 18mm baltic birch plywood as the substrate. For a backer veneer I went to another local dealer and bought some paper-backed sapele veneer to use as the backer veneer. They didn’t have mahogany and the sapele was the closest match to my planned mahogany frame. Of course nobody may ever look under the table but these small details matter to me. With everything glued up, into the press they went.

I used a medium brown glue and the spots of veneer tape are covering small holes in the burl veneer. They’ll fill with glue and hopefully blend in. The holes are around 1/16” in size. When they came out of the press I was surprised at how many tiny pinholes there were that the glue came up through that I hadn’t noticed before. When the glue was fully cured I broke most of them off with a sharp chisel and I’ll sand down the rest.

I also did a third piece in a separate pressing to be used for testing finishes. Once they came out of the press I propped them up on the bases to get a feel for how things might start looking.

Next is to make the border frame and do the ebony inlay.

3 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4072 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 02-05-2014 02:20 PM

I also did a third piece in a separate pressing to be used for testing finishes

Smart man.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View jumbojack's profile


1691 posts in 3541 days

#2 posted 02-05-2014 05:14 PM

First off let me thank you for the blog. I love builds that are blogged. I am too unorganized to do it, and my shop is an embarrassment to woodworkers the world over.
I have seen that solution for flattening veneer, but I just use distilled water and it seems to do the job. Have you ever tried water. If so did you notice that the solution did a better job?
I probably dont need to warn you about sanding with care. Do not spot sand, that veneer is thinner than you think.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Ottacat's profile


532 posts in 2769 days

#3 posted 02-06-2014 12:24 AM

jumbojack, I haven’t tried distilled water so I have no basis for comparison. I was already ordering a bunch of stuff from Veneering Supplies so the incremental cost of the softening solution wasn’t much.

Blogging builds isn’t very hard with today’s camera phones. My shop is also messy and the photos are ‘selective’ :) However I’m glad you are enjoying it.

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