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.

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