Tuesday 31 October 2017

To Quote My Old Man, "Boy, What the Hell Were You Thinking"...

To say I'm surprised by the lack of comments regarding my experiment with Bondo and veneer would be an understatement. In fact, I have been mildly shocked by the lack of comments raking me over the coals for doing something that isn't considered a normal way to do things. The only thing I can think of that would keep the, "you-can't-do-it-that-way" boys from ripping me a new one is that they think I'm beyond help.

So what the hell was I thinking...

  Why Construction Grade ply?
This is mainly to do with price, but also to do with convenience. 
One sheet of 11mm Good One Side Fir Sanded Plywood at Lowe's or Home Depot is less than $50 a sheet. Included in that price is up to five cuts to the sheet, so getting the stock into the trunk of my wife's Fusion to take home was never a problem. 
  Why two layers of 11mm fir ply?
I wanted the material thickness to be in the same scale as the cabinet it defines. This is a fair-sized cabinet so its components should reflect that. I didn't need a full 1" thick. All I needed was material that was obviously thicker than 3/4", hence the laminated 11mm ply, which, when veneered on both sides, ends up being a very thin hair thinner than 1".
By laminating two 11mm pieces I could ensure they were dead flat during glue-up and they would stay that way after they came out of the clamps (ok, when the screws were removed - don't be so picky).
  Why not use pre-veneered ply?
I wanted White Oak veneer, not Red. The box stores only sell Red Oak Veneered ply, so I would have to purchase what I needed at a hardwood lumber yard, rent a truck to get it home, and fight with it to cut it up as I do not own a panel saw.
Also, I have never done any veneering before and I wanted to try it. 
  Why veneer before assembly? 
Every component included in this cabinet is flat-slabbed. There isn't a curved surface on it. Believe me, I tried to add a curve or two, but when I did, I lost a lot of storage room where the corners once were. Because it is just flat panels, I guessed that fitting the veneer would be far easier if I had to trim 1" thick stock than it would be if I had to deal with stock that was 0.8mm thick.
  Why use Bondo? 
You can't be a car-guy who grew up in the '50s and '60s and not know about Bondo. 3M makes Bondo, and they also make a slightly heavier two-part filler called White Lightnin'. They recommend both for metal and wood, but I have found that the Bondo is quicker to work with for lighter applications, such as fairing my plywood slabs.


Friday 27 October 2017

Huge Score...

I scored huge last week.

Nine molding planes to add to my H. E. Mitchell collection.

A 7/8" Rebate plane...

Five assorted bead planes made at assorted times, two of which I have, but not in as good of shape as these, and one with missing boxwood which I can use for its parts...

One No. 11 Round that looks almost new for a plane made in the 1890's...

One No. 15 Hollow made in the 1870's...

And one 5/8" No. 1 Sash made between 1880 and 1899...

None are matching, other than having been made by my great grandfather's cousin. The were made at difference dates, given the different the maker's marks, but they are nice, clean looking planes.

Opening that package was like Christmas all over again.



Beware of the Mad Scientist...

Surprisingly, so far so good with the veneering, but I would like to try truing up plywood with some one-part filler, particularly one by Dynamic Paint Products, but I need some help from you guys.

So far I’m very happy with the results of my veneered shelf and it has stayed that way for a whole three days now. The thing is, problems with veneer can rear their ugly heads years from now, so as things stand at this point, I’m still rolling dice. What I need is a way to accelerate the aging process.

Any ideas?



Wednesday 25 October 2017

One Up For The New Veneering Guy...

I had some problems with the Hide Glue during my first install of veneer on plywood trued with bondo.

It worked!

The maple veneer is smooth, flat, and seriously stuck to the Bondo-coated plywood, without so much as a hint of an uneven surface. I veneered both sides of the ply at the same time, rolling the Hide Glue on using a foam roller. I then used one of my wife's heavy plastic clothes storage bags, the type you suck the air out and compress the contents using a vacuum, to put pressure on the veneer while the glue dried. I think she bought it at Walmart, but I'm not sure and if I ask her, she will know I stole her bag. I used my shop vac to deflate the bag, resulting in some serious pressure. I then left the piece to dry overnight. The air valve on the bag is a one-way type, so you only need to suck the air out of it and once it is as tight as it will ever get, you can remove the vacuum hose without any ill effects to the pressure.

I opened it up this morning and was truly pleased with the results. It is nice to win one once in a while.



Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bondo On...Bondo Off...

I have a feeling that some of you aren't exactly agreeing with my choices for truing-up the panels that are to be veneered with Bondo, and I get that. I'm a complete novice at this veneering stuff and here I am, right out of the box and I start doing things that are not common processes and I'm using uncommon materials to do it, to boot. I get it. 

So I coated each panel with Bondo and set it off to dry. I was originally going to sand each of them down with 100 grit self-sticking roll paper, stuck to an 18" board, but it turns out the board was too long for the narrow panels and the grit was too light. I ended up using half-sheets of 60 grit wrapped around a specially cut 9 1/2" board. Once the first coat was boarded, I spread a second layer of Bondo over the entire board again, tipping it off to level it, and setting them off to the side to dry completely again.

Twenty-four hours later the Bondo was hard and dry so I went at all the panels again with the board and the 60 grit sandpaper. Working with Bondo is like waxing a car for Mr. Miyagi, the instructor for the Karate Kid. You lay the stuff on one way, and remove the majority of it another. By boarding it, you remove the Bondo completely from only the high spots while the Bondo you leave on the board fills in the low spots. The trick is, always sand at a 45° to the grain, doing so in both directions.

The grain of the board is running from right to left, so sanding
goes from top to bottom, first angled one way,
then angled the opposite way.
The idea is to not only flatten the board so it is ready for veneering, but to lay a "scratch hatch" on it so the Hide Glue has a tooth to grip to. I think the 60 grit leaves a strong enough scratch hatch to work, but if not, I'll let the Hide Glue dry and then sand the board clean again. I'll then hit it with a toothing plane. I think the crosshatching I achieved with the 60 grit paper should be enough, though.

Enlarged, you can see the crosshatching quite well.
As you can see from the second image, there isn't much Bondo left on the panel. Nothing would be gained by leaving a lot of the filler on, but if you do, each panel will have to be worked so their thicknesses are the same.

Now that the panels are fully prepared, I can now get on with sticking some veneer to them. I am planning to use Hide Glue to take advantage of one of its best characteristics - its ability to be turned back into liquid once its been applied. If I can use Hide Glue, if an area of veneer doesn't stick, I can use an iron to reheat the glue and turn it back into a liquid again, then I can work and clamp that specific area without the need to add more glue to it, as heating the glue makes it useable again. If I run into problems getting the Hide Glue to stick to the Bondo, I'll just find another glue to use.

So I'm off to glue some veneer.



Friday 20 October 2017

Wearing a Veneer of Perfection Never Did Me Any Good...

I hope it works out better for my cabinet.

I've been out of it for pretty much the summer. I have no excuse for it, other than just being a lazy old fart. But the times they are a changin'.

In truth, I have actually been at it, not hard, but at it. I haven't written about any of it yet, but that will change over the winter months. While I'll include a few images here, I'll mainly be putting all my time and energy into getting my damned tool cabinet built, and given its size, that can only be done outdoors. Will the cabinet be anything like I have yacked about in the past? Ya, close I guess, but there will be some supple differences from the original drawings. There will also be one major difference; it will be made from veneer covered plywood. 

Going with veneer wasn't an easy decision to make. Like most in my generation, every time I saw a piece of veneered furniture I would actually cringe a bit, so deciding to use it on this project was a HUGE change for me. If you were raised during the '50s and '60s, you will remember all the mass produced furniture that was being pumped out. Walk into any Kmart or Woolworths back then and you would see acres and acres of cheap, crappy furniture that was typically made pressed board (pressed paper), smothered in less than paper-thin veneer, which as often as not, wasn't made from wood. The printed-to-look-just-like-wood plastic laminate was pure junk, as was the pressed board it was sort of stuck to. As a result of this trash furniture, I, and the majority of my generation, came to look down upon veneered furniture as cheap crap that we wouldn't give house-room to. We were wrong, but hey, it was the '50s and '60s, so none of us would listen.

So what changed my mind about veneer?


I wanted to build a 1" thick solid maple cabinet with dovetailed joints and burled floating panels, but getting into it, I realized the material bill would equal the family jewels. Rough 5/4 maple sells for around $7 a board foot in Ontario, Canada, so I figured the wood bill for the whole thing would run around $800, plus the usual additional costs. Given this cabinet will never sit in my wife's living or dining room, and that, maybe, if I had a party or something, maybe 8 people would see it before I'm a goner, so I came to realize that a solid maple cabinet would be the epitome of overkill.

With the decision to go with veneer finally made, I started looking for a source. Enter, surprisingly, eBay. A gentleman was selling out his father's small mill, and he had a huge selection of veneers. I wanted maple, and he just happened to have some...well...actually, he had a lot. I offered to purchase 24 consecutive sheets of maple, 14" wide by 12' long for $300. Surprisingly, he took it and we both walked away from the deal happy.

I used scrap wood as spacers between the
different lengths of veneer and
sandwiched them between
two pieces of ply.
The veneer arrived stacked in sequence and rolled up together so my first job was to get it all numbered, cut to rough lengths and sandwiched between some plywood to keep it all flat. It took me about four hours to go through everything.

Where no spacers were needed, I used clamps
to hold the bundle together and keep
it all flat (the veneer outside the
ply will be trimmed off)
For the substrate, I decided to glue together two sheets of 11mm good one side plywood, giving an overall thickness of 22mm, or roughly .87". I went this route because gluing two pieces of plywood together results in a very ridged panel which is thick enough to handle any joining I could come up with. I also did a few things a bit differently because the panels will be veneered as well. I didn't bother with clamps for the glue-up. I just laid one piece good side down, then I spread yellow carpenters glue over the exposed rough face, positioned the second sheet over it with the good side up and screwed the whole lot down to the bench top (I flattened the top before I did this) using 1 1/2" deck screws. I wrapped the whole lot in a tarp and let them dry for a couple of days. The result was some great panels to work with.

Here, I just finished driving 17 screws through the ply and
into the bench top to ensure the panel dries flat

Given the wet weather we have had here this summer, the
whole lot was wrapped in a tarp which was held down
by cleats and left for a couple of days
I also think the hardest part of a cabinet to veneer is the edges, and the proof of this is how many cabinets I have seen where the edge banding has fallen off. To get past this, I bought some solid 3/4" thick maple and cut it up into 1" strips. I then glued a strip on the edges that would be exposed once the cabinet was assembled. When the glue dried I planned off the excess using my old man's No.4 Stanley plane, letting the heel of it rest on the panel so it worked as a guide. I'll run the veneer right up to the outside edge of the maple and I'll plane the whole lot flat and square.

Here the 1" strip of solid maple is glued and clamped to
the exposed edge of a side
Once I had the panels glued up and edged, I gave each side a fair coat of Bondo auto body filler. This was done to not only fill the holes caused by the screws when the panel was glued up, but to help flatten the ply, filling in the hollows that are always present in this cheaper, construction grade plywood. The Bondo will be hand sanded with a 18" sandpaper flat that will be fitted with self-adhesive 120 grit paper. The result should be hard, flat, and properly toothed for the veneer to be attached using hide glue, my first time for it as well.

Here the different panels have been coated with a thin coat
of two-part auto body filler to true their surfaces