Choose Your Method

I swear that I will never use commercial veneer for any of my furniture work in the future. These veneers are a pain to work with because they’re too thin. Holding true to my statement, I cut a couple of strips at my table saw to use while making the inlay piece for the desk on frame that’s in the first release.

IMG_2144There are benefits to thicker veneer other than just not sanding through your inlay as you prepare for finish. Thick veneers operate similar to 3/4″-thick stock – you can saw the material using machines or hand saws. I tried each of these while making my inlay and they both worked great.

In fact, after the piece came off the band saw where I have a 1/4″-wide, 6 TPI blade installed, I was able to work with a plane to smooth the edges and dial-in the perfect line. (A file also produced nice results.) Just be careful and mindful as you work – your hands are in there close to the blade as you cut. Plus, a band saw insert that’s not too buggered up is a better choice.

IMG_2151Even though you can saw the thicker veneer, you also retain the ability to slice the veneers using a sharp knife. In the photo to the right, I’m using a disposable razor knife to make the cut. If this is the method you use, make sure the blade is sharp and make many slices. You’re not going to cut this veneer in a pass or two. And you’ll need to hold the straightedge (my 6″-steel rule in my case) tight in place for the first couple of passes. The remaining passes will follow the established cut line as long as you take it slow. Oh, make sure that you hold the knife 90° to the inlay so you don’t undercut the edges.

I mentioned using hand saws to make the cuts, and that’s the method that I prefer best. (You can see the technique shown below.) Lay the inlay onto a scrap board, then place a second piece of scrap – one with a straight edge – at the layout line of your inlay. Clamp the setup together then use your handsaw to make the cut.  I use a Japanese dozuki from Lee Valley. The process is simple because the top scrap piece guides the saw as you cut. Plus, the small teeth of the dozuki tend to not rip out the sand-shaded areas at the tip of the inlay. And the clamping action holds everything in place as you work. Win. Win. Win.

Build Something Great!


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One thought on “Choose Your Method

  1. I have used shop made veneer for drawer fronts and was very happy with the results. I was able to easily get harmonious figure on the drawer fronts without having to laboriously dig through stacks of boards for just the right match. The veneers were between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick, and I was able to get three or four fronts from each of my boards. Since the drawers had beading around them, there is no obvious sign that veneer was used, as the beading covered the glued edges of the veneer. Only the careful eye of an experienced woodworker will notice that the drawer fronts are tiger maple on the outside and ordinary soft maple on the inside.

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