Time to Break Out the Veneers

I've been eagerly anticipating this part of the project. After so much time spent preparing the substrates, etc., I'll finally be joining together these four sweet yellow birch heartwood veneers to form the top of the lower platform panel on the Jeffersonian Book Stand.

As you might recall, I cut these veneers on the bandsaw and now it's time to get them ready to be applied to the panel. I decided to arrange them in a slip match pattern. That means I'll be laying them out side-by-side in the same order they came off of the plank.

The edges are jointed on my benchtop "shooting board". To make the glue joints disappear, if at all possible, I need to plane the edges of the veneer so they are well fitted with no gaps. Here you can see what the veneer looks like for the entire panel prior to gluing the four veneers into a single sheet.

The back side of each veneer sheet has been smoothed with a hand plane in order to achieve a minimal glue line at the edge. This is what it all looks like before gluing the top and bottom veneers onto the substrate. Notice the solid yellow birch edges applied to the perimeter of the Baltic birch substrate.

It feels good to get this first completed panel into the vacuum press!

Those of you not familiar with this type of veneer work may have just realized that if I had chosen solid wood rather than veneered panel construction, I'd have been this far along a couple of weeks ago. You're right. Solid wood can be much quicker, however, for this piece the advantages of using veneered panel construction are worth it. The piece has a lot of moving parts and a number of tightly fitted interfaces that require greater stability in the panels. Besides, this technique allows me to take advantage of the beauty found in the full depth of the plank. Nothing goes to waste.

While I'm on the topic of veneered construction, I'd like to note that in recent history, manufactured furniture has become less costly which can be a great advantage, but unfortunately it has done this at the cost of being less durable; a quick path to the landfill. A more sustainable approach can be found in handmade furniture. A conscientiously made piece of furniture will last a very long time. The techniques I'm using here will help ensure that this piece stays beautiful, functional, and out of the landfill for many, many, years to come.

I'll be keeping to the path of preparing veneers and substrates for the next couple of weeks. Once all of the panels have been veneered, I can then focus on putting the large pieces together.

Hej då!