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Best Way to Finish Waterfall Miters on Furniture?

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Forum topic by wilschroter posted 05-19-2022 08:32 PM 741 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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wilschroter

212 posts in 2017 days


05-19-2022 08:32 PM

I’m working on my first real furniture project – some simple night stands, and I’ve got two pieces of birch veneer plywood being mitered on a corner. My miters aren’t horrible, but I still have some open areas.

Obviously, I can use a little filler but my question is simply – what’s the best way to sand/soften mitered edge on veneer on furniture? I know I don’t have much material to play with so I’m anxious about sanding but I also don’t want sharp corners that are clearly going to get chipped up.

This has obviously been done a million times before me so I’m just getting some best practices.


12 replies so far

View LesB's profile

LesB

3503 posts in 4935 days


#1 posted 05-19-2022 09:10 PM

You admittedly could have made the miters tighter and lessened your finishing problems. With veneers you can’t round of the corners more than to just take the “knife” edge off. Otherwise you could work out a way to add a solid piece of wood into the corner. It might even be a contrasting wood for decoration.

What will your final finish be? Will you paint it? Stain it? and top coat with varnish, poly, shellac, etc.

Most fillers do not take a stain the same as the wood but water based fillers come closer than solvent based which can be nonporous.

A common mantra in wood working for things like fillers and finishes is to do some testing first.

-- Les B, Oregon

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

7118 posts in 2714 days


#2 posted 05-19-2022 09:22 PM

I don’t have much experience with large corner veneer-overs, but certainly for the smaller stuff I’ve found that creating the miter and joining, then veneering with a clean knife cut to establish the bend works much better than trying to miter together pre-veneered parts.

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wilschroter

212 posts in 2017 days


#3 posted 05-19-2022 09:59 PM

These are great answers – I’m glad I asked.

@splintergroup are you saying use one consecutive piece of veneer for the whole waterfall without having cut it into sections? I wasn’t aware veneer had much pliability (I get scoring it) to make that 90 degree cut.

@lesb I think the miters were tight but I accidentally grabbed the edges perhaps with an errant trigger clamp which pushed them out of sync. They aren’t horrible (I’ve seen/done horrible) but agreed they aren’t as clean as they should be.

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pottz

26546 posts in 2476 days


#4 posted 05-19-2022 10:10 PM

i agree with less id try to incorparate a solid wood edge which could be rounded or left square..if you dont get a real tight edge with veneer it’s gonna show.if your gonna stain it wood filler will also show badly. it’s not a matter of matching the filler but how the wood willl darken or fade in time making the filler stand out. ill just say the veneers on plywoods today are paper thin and wont tolerate much sanding.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

9759 posts in 2879 days


#5 posted 05-19-2022 10:17 PM

A tip I saw in a Woodsmith magazine some time ago is to gently burnish or sort of roll the corner edges over with smooth screwdriver shank to close the gap. You may have to work from both edges. If the gap is too wide that may not work but for small miter gaps it is often better than other alternatives after the fact.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Loren's profile

Loren

11549 posts in 5140 days


#6 posted 05-19-2022 11:40 PM



A tip I saw in a Woodsmith magazine some time ago is to gently burnish or sort of roll the corner edges over with smooth screwdriver shank to close the gap. You may have to work from both edges. If the gap is too wide that may not work but for small miter gaps it is often better than other alternatives after the fact.

- Lazyman

I’ve used this trick.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

629 posts in 1089 days


#7 posted 05-20-2022 12:20 AM


A tip I saw in a Woodsmith magazine some time ago is to gently burnish or sort of roll the corner edges over with smooth screwdriver shank to close the gap. You may have to work from both edges. If the gap is too wide that may not work but for small miter gaps it is often better than other alternatives after the fact.

- Lazyman

I ve used this trick.

- Loren

Me too!

In fact, I will often burnish a sharp, perfect, corner, to make it a touch softer. I really, really try to avoid sanding over a mitered corner in plywood.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

1563 posts in 2594 days


#8 posted 05-20-2022 09:42 PM

For future reference, and please correct me if I’m wrong, I thought a waterfall edge had the grain direction of the top “spilling” over the edge to continue “waterfall style” down the side. Just an observation/question.

View DS's profile

DS

4116 posts in 3912 days


#9 posted 05-20-2022 10:06 PM

When we do this, we call it miterfolding and we cut the end from the same panel or a sequenced, grain-matched panel for the best effect.

A v-grooving router bit and a good guide fence can ensure near perfect miters.
At work, we go next level and run the groves on the CNC machine.

We burnish the corners to tighten the gaps and take the razor edge away, but, larger gaps will need a different type of attention.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS

View Ben's profile

Ben

10 posts in 19 days


#10 posted 06-07-2022 07:02 PM

This video introduced me to the burnishing technique and I’ve never gone back. It works better with some veneers/woods than others, but you can often close a decently large gap.

View pottz's profile

pottz

26546 posts in 2476 days


#11 posted 06-07-2022 07:45 PM



This video introduced me to the burnishing technique and I ve never gone back. It works better with some veneers/woods than others, but you can often close a decently large gap.

- Ben


For future reference, and please correct me if I m wrong, I thought a waterfall edge had the grain direction of the top “spilling” over the edge to continue “waterfall style” down the side. Just an observation/question.

- bilyo


yes what he shows is not a waterfall edge.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

1148 posts in 5238 days


#12 posted 06-07-2022 08:22 PM


For future reference, and please correct me if I m wrong, I thought a waterfall edge had the grain direction of the top “spilling” over the edge to continue “waterfall style” down the side. Just an observation/question.

- bilyo

yes what he shows is not a waterfall edge.

- pottz


It’s a basic mitered edge. A waterfall edge would continue the same grain pattern and be cut from the immediate corresponding sequential piece.

-- NorthWoodsMan

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