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The ‘flat-board-first’ technique lets you veneer a curved half with any sample you need.

Boldness with steadiness—that’s how I see the entrance apron of a traditional Federal card desk. I really like the manner it curves, including drama to these vibrant veneers and bandings. For a woodworker, increase these patterns on a flat piece of wooden is troublesome sufficient, however how do you do it on a curved one?

That’s the query I struggled with making an attempt to determine the way to train a category on constructing this desk. Traditionally, veneers, inlay and banding would have been straight utilized to the curved apron, one piece at a time. Experience tells me that this technique is just too
troublesome and exacting for a lot of college students to grasp throughout one class. My different: Perform all the intricate veneering on a flat piece of wooden first, then resaw the board and glue the new, thicker piece of veneer, sample and all, straight onto the curved apron.

Experimenting with this “flat-board-first” method, I discovered that it labored completely. My college students actually prefer it! I’m positive it can develop into the customary manner for particular person craftsmen to make these aprons to any extent further.

About the apron and veneer

Let’s begin by speaking about the way to make a curved apron. You can laminate it or construct it up in the conventional manner, as I did right here. This apron is constructed like a masonry wall, with staggered wood “bricks.” After the bricks are stacked and glued, their sharp, jutting corners are lower to a clean curve on the bandsaw. If there are any voids, they’re crammed or patched.    

You might have to organize the veneer about the identical time that you simply’re milling the bricks. If you’ve ever dealt with extremely figured veneer, you understand that it may be stiff, brittle and liable to cracking, very like a potato chip. In reality, it may be formed like a potato chip! You can’t work with it this manner.

In order to chop a sheet of veneer into smaller items and match the items right into a exact sample, the veneer needs to be rendered flat and pliable. Fortunately, that’s straightforward to do. First, you soak the veneer in a mix of water, glycerine, alcohol and glue. Then you clamp it in a makeshift press for a day or so. 

Lay out the veneer

Begin by making the “staging board.” You’ll glue the veneer on this board first, so it ought to be created from a wooden that’s secure, bends simply and is good to resaw.  I exploit yellow poplar. I rip the staging board from the fringe of a large poplar board that’s straight-grained and freed from defects. This edge piece, which shall be quartersawn or riftsawn, will transfer much less and is much less liable to warping than the plainsawn wooden in the center of that huge board. I can’t emphasize this an excessive amount of: The staging board should keep completely flat till you resaw it.

1. My strategy of veneering a built-up sample on a curved apron begins with a flat 3/4″ thick “staging board.” Draw the define of the sample on the board.

Mill the staging board no less than 3/4″ thick, about 1/16″ wider than the desk’s apron and some inches longer than the veneered sample you’ll be creating.

2. Cut the items of the sample and pin them to the board, so that they don’t shift. When the items match effectively, bind them along with veneer tape.

Draw the sample on the staging board (Photo 1). I’ll be utilizing fiddleback mahogany for the mitered area and vertical-grain crotch mahogany for the flanking sections. We’ll lower and inlay the heart oval in a while.

3. Build out the sample by including extra items to the staging board. The heart items of this sample are created from fiddleback mahogany; the aspect items are crotch mahogany.

Start with the 4 mitered items of the heart part. As you chop each bit of veneer, pin it to the board (Photo 2). When all of the items of the heart part match effectively, bind them along with veneer tape. Finally, add the aspect items (Photo 3).

4. Glue the veneer to the staging board. After the glue dries, trim off any extra alongside the sides.

Glue the veneer to the staging board (Photo 4). I exploit liquid disguise glue (see Sources, web page 72). Spread the glue with an previous bank card that has notches lower into it. Use a melamine caul to unfold the clamping stress; glue squeeze-out gained’t persist with it.

Add the banding

5. Scribe and aircraft a shallow rabbet alongside the backside fringe of the board to obtain a strip of checkerboard banding.

Next, lower a rabbet for the checkered banding that goes alongside the backside of the apron. (for more information on bandings, learn this text.) Scribe a line 3/8″ from the backside of the board, then use a shoulder aircraft or router to chop the rabbet (Photo 5). The depth of the rabbet ought to be about 1/64″ lower than the thickness of the banding.

6. Pare away a slender strip of veneer between the fiddleback and crotch sections utilizing a 1/16″ huge chisel. Score the sides of this groove with a marking knife earlier than you pare.

Cut grooves for the slender banding that separates the mitered area from the aspect sections (Photo 6). First, define the groove by scribing two parallel strains with a marking knife. Then pare away the heart waste with a 1/16″ chisel.

7. Glue a slender piece of banding into the groove. Next, glue the checkerboard banding in the rabbet on the backside of the board.

Glue the bandings in place (Photo 7). Rather than use cauls, maintain the banding in place with binding tape (see Sources). This tape is utilized in acoustic guitar making for gluing purfling round the instrument’s physique; it’s barely elastic however has loads of holding energy.

8. Plane all of the banding flush with the veneer.

After the glue is dry, aircraft all of the bandings flush (Photo 8). My favourite software for this delicate work is a Lie-Nielsen #102 low-angle block aircraft (see Sources).

Inlay the oval medallion

I exploit stable wooden to make the heart oval. Veneer gained’t work. Most veneer is just too skinny to outlive planing and leveling in the steps forward—you would possibly lower proper via it. 

You’ll be utilizing an inlay package to your router to chop each the recess for the inlay and the inlay itself (see Sources). To use the package, you’ll want an oval template created from 1/4″ plywood or MDF. While it’s not troublesome to make the template your self, I employed an area woodworker to make one along with his CNC machine. (It took him lower than 10 minutes!)

9. Rout an oval recess in the center of the sample. First rout a border utilizing a 1/8″ bit and a particular two-part information bushing for making inlay. Remove the remainder of the waste with a bigger straight bit.

The template’s oval needs to be a bit oversize, nonetheless. Here’s why: The package consists of a 5/16″ Porter-Cable-style information bushing, a 9/16″ dia. donut that snaps onto the bushing and a 1/8″ solid-carbide up-cut spiral bit. To lower the recess, you place the donut on the bushing and rout round the within the template about 1/16″ deep (Photo 9). The groove you rout shall be 7/32″ away from the fringe of the template. This implies that the template ought to be 7/16″ bigger in size and width than the oval you need to make.

After you’ve routed the groove, take away the template and set up a 1/4″ or bigger bit in a second router. (The 1/8″ bit is fragile; don’t use it for hogging out massive areas.) Set the bit to the identical depth as the groove and take away the waste inside the oval.

10. Rout a medallion from a bit of stable hen’s eye maple, utilizing the identical template and a smaller information bushing. Resaw the piece to launch the inlay. This piece will match completely into the recess.

Next, lower out the medallion that can match into the recess (Photo 10). I made the medallion from a 3/8″ thick piece of hen’s eye maple (a thicker piece could be OK, too). Place the template on the wooden and take away the donut from the router’s bushing. Set the depth of lower to just a little bit lower than 1/16″ and rout round the template. Be cautious to maintain the router’s bushing tight in opposition to the template. Any deviation from the template will end in a flawed inlay.

Reset the depth of lower two extra instances. On the final cross, the groove ought to be about 1/8″ deep. Resaw the board on the bandsaw to launch the medallion; it ought to be about 1/8″ thick. If all has gone effectively, it can match completely into the recess.

11. Glue the medallion into the recess. Make a caul barely smaller than the medallion to unfold clamping stress. After gluing, aircraft the medallion flush with the veneer.

Make a caul 1/16″ smaller in size and width than the medallion (Photo 11). Put tape round the sides of the caul—and on its backside, as effectively—to forestall glue from sticking to it. Use the caul to connect the medallion into the recess. Plane the medallion flush with the surrounding veneer.

Use slender black-and-white purfling to stipulate the medallion; it provides the design punch and distinction (see Sources). The purfling should exactly observe the border of the medallion. This requires a second template precisely like the one you used earlier than, solely 5/32″ smaller all the manner round. You’ll additionally want a Dremel and a particular base for the Dremel from Stewart-
MacDonald (see Sources). (I used the identical instruments to rout the grooves for the stringing in the legs—see “Stringing Inlay,” AW #157, Dec./Jan. 2012, half 1 of this sequence.)

12. Rout a slender groove round the border of the medallion. This requires making a barely smaller template and utilizing a small finish mill whose shank acts as a pilot.

Make the new template by tracing round the previous template with a 3/8″ straight bit outfitted with an 11/16″ bearing and a bearing lock collar (see Sources). (The bearing and bearing lock collar go on the bit’s 1/4″ shank, above the cutters.) Then set up the Stew-Mac base in your Dremel and insert a 3/64″ finish mill into the Dremel’s collet (see Sources.) The shank of this bit will journey straight in opposition to the template, very like a router bit with a stable pilot. Carefully place the new template on the medallion and rout a groove barely lower than 1/16″ deep (Photo 12).

Installing the stringing requires some finesse. The ends of the medallion are curved too tight to just accept the stringing as it’s, however you may pre-bend the stringing by heating it up. (I used the identical course of to bend the stringing for the desk’s legs.) Mark the sections of the stringing that must bend the most, then gently bend these components over a scorching curved iron (see Sources). Heat makes the stringing extra pliable; when it cools, it can stay bent.   

13. Glue black and white stringing into the groove. You’ll most likely need to bend the stringing first over a scorching curved iron so it can match this tight radius with out breaking.

Lay a small bead of glue in the groove with a syringe (see Sources), then match the stringing into the groove (Photo 13). After the glue is dry, degree the stringing with a block aircraft utilizing light, round strokes. Finally, sand the whole heart part with 180 grit paper.

Cut the veneer free

14. Resaw the staging board, releasing a bit that’s solely about 3/32″ thick.

Now comes the essential a part of the complete operation—resawing the staging board. Install a pointy, fine-toothed blade that’s no less than half″ huge in your bandsaw and thoroughly alter the noticed’s guides and bearings. Set up a fence 3/32″ away from the blade and make a check lower in a bit of poplar that’s roughly the identical width as the staging board. If all goes effectively, the surfaces of your lower ought to be clean and straight. If the lower wanders, or if the floor is uneven, change the blade or give your noticed a tune-up.

15. Flex the piece to verify it can take the curve of the desk’s apron. The apron consists of quick items laid up like bricks, then sawn and sanded right into a curved form.

Re-saw the staging board (Photo 14). At 3/32″ thick, the ensuing piece ought to preserve the veneer work, banding and inlay intact and supply a beneficiant poplar backing. The piece also needs to bend simply sufficient to match the curve of the desk’s apron (Photo 15).

Glue the veneer on the apron

To put together the apron for gluing, sand its floor and lower mortises for the desk’s entrance legs. Cut the piece you’ve resawed to size—it ought to lengthen about 1/8″ over the mortises. You’ll trim off the extra later, earlier than becoming the legs.

16. Glue the strip onto the apron. To apply even stress, use a size of bending plywood with blocks glued on at common intervals.

Make a clamping belt by gluing blocks each 3″ or so on a bit of three/8″ thick bending plywood. Apply glue to the apron, then use purfling tape to register the resawn piece in place. The backside of the piece ought to be 1/32″ or so greater than the backside of the apron. (You don’t need the banding to finish up under the apron!) Situate the belt and add clamps (Photo 16). After the glue dries, aircraft off any overhanging veneer on the high of the apron. Round off or bevel the backside of the apron so it’s flush with the banding.

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