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Thread: Veneering a chessboard

  1. #1
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    Veneering a chessboard

    I didn't want to hijack Vaughn's chessboard thread so I'm starting this one. I'm in the planning stages of a chessboard, actually a rebuild of a chess table that was built probably over 60 years ago by my grandfather. It is a ash table that originally had walnut and maple squares and edge banding. Over the years pieces of the veneer broke, cracked and delaminated. At this point trying to salvage the veneer is really not feasible as many pieces are missing or damaged beyond repair and matching the original would be next to impossible. The plan is to remove the remaining veneer and redo it, the top is 7/8" ash, 36" X 36".

    I've done a bit of veneering in the past, but the only experience up to this point I have has been one piece affairs. The concern I have is getting the squares square and exactly identical in size. I think anything but perfect would quickly magnify itself as each error adds to the next and before long I've got huge gaps. Is there any tips on making 32 identical veneer squares in each color? Some sort of jig seems like it might be the best bet, I haven't had real good luck cutting a few test pieces of cheap veneer by hand. I'm planning on using some really striking burl walnut and curly maple to redo the top. This stuff is expensive so I don't want to screw up too much of this stuff cutting it.

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Just thinking out loud but how about one of those paper cutter, you know the ones that have a large knife that shears the paper. Attachment 3182 You could set it up with a stop on the flat edge and just feed the vaneer onto the table, sorta like using it in reverse.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    don, those splinter veneer i`ve tried `em........tried just about every gizmo advertised and a well tuned veneer saw with a good straight edge is what i`ve found to work the best......and practice....lots of practice
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  4. #4
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    Thanks Tod, I was wondering if it would work, you just saved me from wasting some vareer..
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
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    Couldn't you laminate your alternating blocks of wood, then resaw the veneer? That way you wouldn't be laminating individual squares. I haven't made one nor have I done much veneer work, so I am speculating, but I think I saw something similar to this on the Woodwright's Shop. Roy didn't slice thin veneer, but the concept seems good. Good luck with the project and please take progress pics!

  6. #6
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    You can make an edge jointer for veneer. You can clamp up several thicknesses between a couple of battens held together by clamps - or bolt and wingnuts if you wanna get fancy.

    If you cut the battens to the width of the chessboard squares, making sure the sides are dead parallel - you put slightly oversized lengths of veneer into the 'jointer' and hand plane the overhang off on each size. You need to get good clamping pressure so they don't shift on you.

    The result of this is parallel sided strips which you need to cut to length. I don't know any shortcut for this other than to make a jig with a stop and cut each one to length with a very sharp utility knike and a good straight edge.

    Make lots of spares !!

    BTW thicker veneer isn't always better. 1/4" thick will be more suceptable to moisture change. I thinner veneer will lay flatter and the adhesive will be better able to keep it from lifting/curling.
    Last edited by Ian Gillis; 01-11-2007 at 05:15 PM. Reason: for the heck of it !
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  7. #7
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    Sorry, but repeating much of this reply in several threads - a lot of veneering questions popping up all at once. I recently took a semester-long veneering class - http://www.palomar.edu/woodworking - where we each made numerous projects including starbursts, mariner's stars and game boards. Be glad to cull my class notes and handouts and send more detailed replies to specific questions.

    A chess board is a fairly challenging project to jump into. Basically, you want to work with 4 + 5 strips (alternating and joined together) of your two contrasting colors and then cut them at 90 deg. to get the final strips. Easy! See this: http://www.marquetry.org/chess_board.htm I have another article on the process, too. But, there are a lot of other things to know about: veneer saw vs. knife? what kind of glue? mechanical veneer press or vacuum bag?

    A good basic veneering book would help to get you going in the right direction. My personal experience is that joewoodworker.com is a great site for info and supplies and he has excellent customer service. There are a lot of tips on making your own system. PM me for more info.

    Mike
    If you can't make it perfect, make it adjustable!

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the responses. I've been looking at the various glues available, I see than most glues have a "light" and "dark" version for light and dark woods. Any advise on which would be best to use for a chessboard with BOTH light and dark? Also, I have a vacuum pump and plan on making a bag for this project. What glues work better with a vacuum bag?

    Mike
    Last edited by M Toupin; 01-12-2007 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #9
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    mike, this may cause quite a stir? but 95% of my veneer work is done with either plain ol` yellow glue or if the lamination is exposed to the elements or is really porous like a burl i`ll use polyurethane glue......i`ve found that poly sands and takes finish better than pva by a long shot.....also if i`m laminating in cold weather pva takes forever to set in a vacuum whereas poly will set in just a couple of hours as long as you introduce moisture into the mix......the other 5% are reserved for epoxys and urea formaldihide....
    for your top platten, the one that contacts the veneer, i use aluminum flashing with a dry coat of paste wax....never have had one stick yet..on curves back the flashing with bending ply on flats back it with 3/4 mdf......tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  10. #10
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    Haven't done a chessboard, so I'm "blue-skying" here...

    If I was committed to using veneer, I think I'd be tempted to pre-glue sheets of it to a thin substrate, like maybe 1/8" MDF or BB. That gives me stable flat panels that I don't have to worry about breaking, making the cutting step and the subsequent glue-up a bit less twitchy.

    But all things considered, I'd rather just go ahead and use 1/8" solid wood.
    Where are we going? And what am I doing in this handbasket?

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