Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pressing Matters

Well, if you’re thinking that it seems like I’m working on several different projects at once…you’d be right!  I don’t know if anyone else deals with this, but it seems like I’ve always got a few things going at once and depending on the hour of day or the time I have available, one of those projects can earn my attention.  It may be a bit of a scattered way to work, but running the planer at 11:00pm is frowned upon in this neck of the woods.  Pressing veneers, on the other hand, is a very 11:00pm friendly activity. 

This is my first time utilizing veneers, or pressing them with a softener, so I’m pretty excited to jump into this new technique.  Here we have my first glycerin, veneer softener mixture.  That little bottle seems pretty expensive sitting on the shelf at Rockler until you realize that it’s enough to make two quarts of the mixture.

Tonight’s shop- time is especially adventurous as we’re experiencing a massive down-pour here in Lone Tree, CO and I’ve discovered that the ceiling in our garage (under the little balcony deck of the master bedroom) is leaking in about three or four places.  There’s not much I can do about it now, other than check on the strategically placed buckets every now and then.  The joys of owning an older home!

Back to the veneers!  First up are these few sheets of curly English Sycamore.  Even before wetting them down with the mixture you can see that the figure in these pieces is just stunning.

All that curl is really going to pop and reflect the light in some pretty cool ways once it’s received a clear finish and maybe even some wax.  You can get a bit of an idea of what it will look like with the finish when it’s received a healthy dousing of the softener mixture.  (I don’t think the camera is doing it much justice though.)

I haven’t gone so far as to build an actual press, but I did pick up some nice, flat sheets of half inch MDF to use to press each sheet of veneer.  I’m placing each piece between some salvaged packing paper and sandwiching them between the MDF sheets.

I also cut down a couple sheets of the Karellian Birch veneer since they’re a little too long for my MDF pressing pieces.  I gave them the same treatment as the Sycamore…

All of the sheets were stacked together and then loaded up with a pile of weights.  I decided to press them on the table saw top to ensure a nice flat surface all the way through the stack.

I’ll leave these under pressure for a couple days to ensure they come out nice and flat.   Based on most of the feedback I’ve received from the amazing online woodworker community, I’m probably executing a bit of overkill since these veneer sheets were fairly flat already.  There is some ripple/waving in these pieces, and the Sycamore is actually pretty brittle.  I’ll feel a little better knowing these sheets are good and flat and that there is a bit more flexibility in the wood when I go to glue them to the substrate.

Oh boy!  Here comes another round of rain!   I’d better go check my buckets.

No comments: