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Burr elm veneer

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Steve Maskery

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Morning all,
I'm making a table with a burr elm top. The veneer is lovely, but crumbles when you look at it. It's also far from flat, so I'm wondering if I would be wise to try and flatten it before I use it. It seems to me that my options are:
1. Use it as it is
2. Wet it, flatten it under weights til dry, then use it.
3. Wet it, press it in the bag, then use it.

I'm just afraid that wetting it will make it turn ito a poppudum that I'll never get flat.

Any experiences that anyone would like to share? I've done a fair bit of veneering, but nothing as unruly as this.

Cheers
Steve
 

Chris Knight

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Steve,

I am taming some flame mahogany at present. Best way I have found is to throughly wet the stuff with water ( I have added glycerin but it seems to make little difference) then place it between sheets of melamine faced chipboard with no extra weight. Leave it for a while, rewet, then repeat with newspaper between the veneer and chipboard. Examine after a few hours and see if you can go to the next stage of sticking it all in the vacuum press without risk of smashing the veneer. If so, go ahead and change the newspaper and then put in in the vacuum press. You will need to change the newspaper again after a few hours in the press. If you want to use the veneer straight away, go ahead, otherwise, depending on the method you are planning to use to adhere it, you can put a PVA glue size on it to help preserve flatness.

I haven't yet got to the point of needing to use one of the formulae with alcohol and glue in it on this stuff.

A problem I haven't yet sorted is that using PVA and the veneer press for bonding the stuff, I find that small cracks develop around the curliest bits. I guess it's simply shrinkage so somehow I need to preshrink it whilst keeping the stuff flat then bond with glue film or dry PVA.
 
A

Anonymous

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Hi Steve

Ah yes, I well remember the popadum effect when I was struggling with masur birch. Not a burl admittedly but I think it probably presented similar problems. I wet it with glyceryn and water pressed it between sheets of brown paper and mdf for a couple of weeks brought it out lovely and flat, turned round for 10 seconds, looked back, a popadum.

Trouble is it messes up your bookmatched edge when it does go flat in pressing onto the groundwork.

I didn't try it but wonder if it isn't better to flatten it and work with it whilst it is still very slightly damp. But I suppose you might then get some nasty checking when it dries.

I also tried west system two part epoxy to vacuum veneer it to eliminate the problem of it expanding due to moisture in PVA. This worked well and also had the effect of filling all the little gaps but affected the colour of such a pale wood. Might be worth experimenting with for a darker burr.

Good luck

Roy
 

Steve Maskery

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Thanks, Chris, Roy, that's helpful.
I've always used PVA myself in the past, but I was thinking of using Extramite this time. Also, as there are two leaves to this top, and they have to line up to make a quartered panel overall, I was thinking of attaching a border of scrap timber round the outside, making the veneer panel oversize, and using CA to tack the veneer panel in place on the scrap before it goes into the press, so it doesn't move about. Reckon that would work?
Cheers
Steve
 

Chris Knight

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Steve,
The CA might stop the veneer moving about but I find it soaks very quickly into wood and darkens it in a way that doesn't easily permit subsequent colour matching. The trouble is it penetrates so deep it may well go where you don't want it. Personally, I wouldn't use that approach - can you get some blue masking tape on it? Or, if the scrap is really sacrificial, then I would use double sided tape, that sticks like anything and won't stain the veneer.
 

Steve Maskery

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Thanks Roy, yes interesting reading, I do remember it, but well worth the re-read.
I've wet my veneers and stacked them between newspaper and two sheets of MFC under my stack of Systainers. They are looking very nice, thank you. I'll keep you posted.
Cheers
Steve
 

Chris Knight

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Roy,

That is an interesting link - I had never thought of using epoxy for veneering but I may well give it a try on my present job. That is a new tool cabinet, basically a copy of the Andy Rae one - here is a picture of the flame veneer on one of the end panels of the lower case.
 

Alf

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Chris, I was biting my tongue so I wouldn't ask how you the tool cabinet was going - just in case it wasn't. I can see I could have asked with confidence. Nice. :D

Cheers, Alf
 

DaveL

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Chris,

Thats looking good. :D

Are you going to be allowed to take a nice looking piece like that back into the workshop and leave it there? :shock: :wink:
 

Chris Knight

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Alf, Dave,

Thanks. It is going a bit slowly for all sorts of reasons, not all connected with woodwork - 'twas ever thus of course!

However, I am pleased with the way the veneer looks: the doors have some really spectacular stuff reserved for them - thick veneer (1.5mm) a book of that feels like a plank!

Like a house, the inside will take longer than the outside. At the moment, I can't quite make up my mind on the 18 internal drawers whether to use satinwood drawer fronts or curly maple (I have a supply of both so I will probably end up making one of each in due course - but that is a month or two away yet!)

Dave, I am certainly not going to be allowed to leave it in the dining room - that is more or less a permanent, temporary home for half-built stuff!

Alf, "Oh ye of little faith!" But it is taking longer than I thought, so I have been a bit quiet in the making front..
 

Chris Knight

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Bloomin' heck! You lot really have eagle eyes! Not a deliberate gloat I assure you.

Alf, you very nearly got it but it is a sash fillister (Mathieson with skew blade and a full boxed sole.)
 

Alf

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Ahh, I went for the percentages with most of my guess. Mmm, nice. Shame on you not to gloat about it. [-X :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 
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