Saturday, June 20, 2009

Veneer Craziness II

Well I haven't had a chance to cut the wide veneers yet. I did some testing and tweaking of the bandsaw fence, I think it is all ready to go now. Part of my hesitation is that I am reconsidering the use of veneer for the top. I think I would actually be better off making the top as a frame and panel construction, rather than as veneered plywood with edgings. The edgings would need to be fairly thick and picture framed onto the ply, I am nervous about how stable that construction would be.

I think what I will do now is clean up on my wide planer the wide slab that I was going to get the veneers from. It is kind of ragged from some test cuts that went awry. I should wind up with 3/4" thickness still.

I have an offcut of one of the elm slabs that is about 14" wide, but it's only about a foot long, I'll try peeling a veneer off of it to verify my bandsaw modification works. I may want to use it in the future.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Veneer Craziness

Well I got 12 of the 11" elm veneers cut out of the two slabs. I only need 10, so hopefully 12 will be enough! It went surprisingly well, with the proper blade and the machine purring like a kitten, it was just a matter of keeping the slab pressed against the fence at all times, and maintaining constant feed pressure to avoid stopping at any point.

Then I had to deal with the fact that my saw's resaw capacity is only 12"-ish, and I need a couple veneers that are 13 1/2" to use on the top. Obviously I could rip the slabs and simply use two 6 3/4" veneers, or I could just use the solid slab. Neither of these solutions seemed like the right thing to do though. What's extra frustrating is that later versions of my bandsaw (MM 16) have a 16" resaw capacity, while mine is only 12"!

So, I thought that if I removed the upper guides, then replaced them with smaller guides from a Chaiwanese bandsaw, I could get the resaw capacity I needed. In fact I did, with several inches to spare as it resulted in about 16 1/2". It took me most of the day to get the saw set up to do the cuts.

Unfortunately, although the cuts started out well, after only a couple of inches they started to wander and barrel. I tried cranking up the tension, different (new, sharp) blades, I triple verified that the new guides were square and true to the back of the blade, I tweaked the fence angle to account for drift. Nothing worked. I never did completely figure out what the problem was, although my suspicion is the cheap guides I used.

So I went back to the drawing board. Thinking further I realized that if I got rid of the table I would get the extra height I needed, and could still use the original guides! For some reason the lower guide can be dropped 3 or 4 inches below its normal position. So, I reassembled the original upper guides, made a note of the drift angle, then took off the metal table, dropped down the bottom guides, and jury rigged up a piece of plywood to use as a "table". Since the edge of the slab is less than 2" thick, the new "table" only needs enough width to support that. Voila 16" of resaw capacity for about 15 minutes of work! Obviously I should have tried this first.

The other thing to note is that if I combined the upper and lower modifications I would have 19 1/2" of resaw capacity. Also would need to figure out what to do for the upper guides! I think the saw would be fine, it has a 3 HP motor, and the blade is a 2 TPI thin kerf. Just need to do a better job on those upper guides.

So tomorrow will be the big test day to see if this will get me the two last veneers I need. I really want to get these cut out so I can move on to gluing the veneers onto the plywood for the shelves, then finally getting some finish on them.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Finish Plans

I got six coats of blond shellac on the frame pieces this week. The sapele is a bit open grained, and the shellac did not finish up that smooth. I guess I will need to touch it with a fine sandpaper and give it a couple more coats to be done.

For the elm panels, I decided against the ruby shellac and was actually leaning towards the boiled linseed oil, it really did a nice job of highlighting the interlocked grain on the elm. However, since the bookcase is actually for my wife, I decided to ask her what she liked, and she said that she preferred the look of the polish. I have to agree that it builds way better, and has a nice gloss finish. Polish it is. I just need to buy a gallon of Waterlox to cover all the panels I have!

I decided to do the shelves next, I want to pre-finish everything at the same time before I glue up. I didn't have enough elm left to build all (five plus top) the shelves out of elm, so I decided to build them out of elm veneer over a ply core.

I ripped my last two big (>24" wide) elm slabs to about 11" wide, which was quite a production. Since they were quite rough, I clamped a 2 x 4 on them to sue as a guide, then got out my 20+ year old skilsaw and ripped away! After a new blade things went much better. Next I jointed one face on my 12" jointer, then cut veneers about 0.100" thick on my bandsaw. I used some kind of crazy 1" wide Laguna bandsaw blade that I have had for ages, but wow did it do the job well. I need to cut the last three shelf veneers still, then I will have to modify the bandsaw to be able to cut the 15" wide veneers for the top.

Next week I'll go buy the plywood and glue the shelves up. They will have a sapele nosing on them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Test Fit

I had a very satisfying burst of progress over the past few days. I managed to finally get all the planer marks out of the boards, then went around the perimeter of each with a dadoed scrap piece to ensure a good fit between the panels and the dadoed frames.

I sanded each board up to 3000 grit sandpaper, so they are gleaming. I am almost tempted to put no finish on them!

Then I touched the edges of each of the frame pieces with 600 grit sandpaper just to remove any ridges left by planing the edges.

The test fit went well, despite the fact that I put a couple pieces in the wrong way. I was quite encouraged that a fairly limited amount of bashing was required, and it all seemed to fit in well and all the gaps closed up nicely.

My ruby shellac flakes arrived the other day. I dissolved some into a 1/2 lb cut, and did a test with a couple coats padded on a piece of elm scrap. It was not at all what I wanted. No hint of red at all. So I took a much larger piece, scraped and sanded it up to 3000 grit so it is the same as my actual panels, and I'll use that to test out a couple other finishing ideas.

Oh yeah, I also still need to do the shelves and the top!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Still Cleaning up Those Wide Boards

Well, true to the slow woodworking theme, a week has passed and the boards are not cleaned up. I found the scraper plane worked well, but had to be adjusted carefully to avoid gouging with the corners of the blade. I got one side of a board out of before it had to be re-rolled.

I carefully scraped both sides of all four boards, but still found the finish was not as smooth as I wanted. In particular the thin bands of earlywood (or is it the latewood?) seemed to fuzz up quite readily. So I went over each board with fine sandpaper, ranging from 400 up to 3000. That took care of any fuzzing.

The 3000 really puts a mirror finish on, but it highlights all the flaws too. The flaws included some gouge marks on one board, and some areas on a couple where I had not taken out all the planer marks. So I had to go back and do a touch more rescraping, then resanding. There are also a couple knots that would probbly benefit from filling.

As of right now I have two of the boards done. The two others, maybe over the weekend? In the meanwhile I also bought some ruby shellac flakes. I could not find it locally, had to order it online, it came in about four days. My thinking is to put a couple coats of ruby shellac on the elm to see if I can move its colour a bit closer to the red of the sapele frames. I should add that the frames were done first, before I started this blog, and they are ready for their finish, which will be a super blonde shellac.