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Thread: OK, now what! (Veenering/finishing advice please)

  1. #1

    OK, now what! (Veenering/finishing advice please)

    Hello All. This is my first real post here (about my first real project), but I've been lurking for a long time and I am pretty new to woodworking.

    So I have been talking about building speakers for ages and finally decided to do it. Plan was to make the box out of MDF and then veneer it with walnut. Baffle (front) would be black textured paint.

    Anyway, I built the boxes and the crossovers. I ordered the veneer, a wavy/burled walnut raw wood veneer (picture here). So, I got the veneer in the mail yesterday and I suddenly was staring it thinking, great, what now! I have no experience doing veneer or finishing quality stuff.

    I would really appreciate some advice. I don't think I'm too over my head but if you could answer a few questions I would feel a lot more comfortable.

    1) How flat does the veneer have to be to not require flattening. It's not very wavy and seems like it is flat enough, but it isn't perfectly flat

    2) I was thinking of using the titebond cold press veneer glue from Woodcraft. However, in part of the veneer there are a couple small pinholes. I saw from Joe Woodworker that this is fine and common on burled veneer, but does anyone know if the titebond glue is dark enough so not make the hole obvious? Do I need to stain it darker in some way? I know I can buy the ultra dark stuff from JoeWoodworker, but with shipping it will end up costing 3-4x as much.

    3) I was going to slightly oversize the cuts on the veneer, glue them down, and once they cured cut off the excess with a rotary cutter. Is this the best way to do it? I wasn't sure if using a flush trim bit on my router would be overkill and cause more problems then it fixed. Will doing it this way cause some really obvious seams? The veneer is raw would so I figured I would just kinda sand/file the edges to make it blend.

    4) Now, finally, the finish. I'm scared to death of finishing it. I checked out Bob Flexner's Understanding Wood Finishing from the library but it basically says for Walnut you can do anything. Thanks Bob . He mentioned that he likes to warm the wood with a burnt umber wiping stain. Does that sound like a good idea? The veneer is pretty dark so warming might be a good idea. What about the finish? I suppose since it's a speaker it doesn't really need to be overly durable. What do you guys recommend? What do people normally use for speakers?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'll post pictures when I decide what to do. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Villa Park, CA
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    1,407
    Please see my comments in your post.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bergman View Post
    Hello All. This is my first real post here (about my first real project), but I've been lurking for a long time and I am pretty new to woodworking.

    So I have been talking about building speakers for ages and finally decided to do it. Plan was to make the box out of MDF and then veneer it with walnut. Baffle (front) would be black textured paint.

    Anyway, I built the boxes and the crossovers. I ordered the veneer, a wavy/burled walnut raw wood veneer (picture here). So, I got the veneer in the mail yesterday and I suddenly was staring it thinking, great, what now! I have no experience doing veneer or finishing quality stuff.

    I would really appreciate some advice. I don't think I'm too over my head but if you could answer a few questions I would feel a lot more comfortable.

    1) How flat does the veneer have to be to not require flattening. It's not very wavy and seems like it is flat enough, but it isn't perfectly flat

    If the veneer will lay flat when you press it down with something like a piece of MDF, you can lay it. Sometimes veneer will expand locally. Then when you press it down, it forms a wrinkle. That's disastrous to your veneer job. Actually, the best way to tell if you can lay it is to tape it to something flat, like MDF, then put it in a vacuum bag. That way, you can see if it flattens when the vacuum is pulled. If it starts to wrinkle you can stop the pump. If you need to flatten it, look up the process of flattening veneer on the web. There's lots of good instruction - but it takes a while to flatten the veneer, maybe a week.

    2) I was thinking of using the titebond cold press veneer glue from Woodcraft. However, in part of the veneer there are a couple small pinholes. I saw from Joe Woodworker that this is fine and common on burled veneer, but does anyone know if the titebond glue is dark enough so not make the hole obvious? Do I need to stain it darker in some way? I know I can buy the ultra dark stuff from JoeWoodworker, but with shipping it will end up costing 3-4x as much.

    I find that the best thing to do is to repair small holes after I lay the veneer. With walnut, you can mix up some epoxy with walnut sanding dust and push it into the holes. It usually comes out fairly black but on a burl that's okay. If the voids are large you have to repair them before laying - but if you're a beginner with veneer, that's not something you want to try. If your panel is not too large, you can lay it with regular white glue (like Elmer's). It's inexpensive and available in lots of places. Hint: only put the glue on the substrate. You want to move quickly between the time you put the veneer down and getting the panel in press. The reason is that the burl will turn into a potato chip when it absorbs water from the glue so you want to get it in press before the burl takes on too much water. Roll your glue on with a paint roller, then place the veneer in place, then immediately put the panel in press. Second hint: one thing that comes with experience is knowing how much glue to roll on. Too little and the glue won't stick. Too much and you can get ripples in your veneer because the glue collects in puddles. Do some practice pieces before you work with your expensive burl.

    3) I was going to slightly oversize the cuts on the veneer, glue them down, and once they cured cut off the excess with a rotary cutter. Is this the best way to do it? I wasn't sure if using a flush trim bit on my router would be overkill and cause more problems then it fixed. Will doing it this way cause some really obvious seams? The veneer is raw would so I figured I would just kinda sand/file the edges to make it blend.

    The first rule is to not cut your substrate to size before you lay the veneer. That way, you can cut the panels after laying the veneer and get a good edge. Even with that, I usually trim my veneer just a bit oversize, but not more than maybe 1/16" to 1/8" per side. Also, if you have glue problems, it's usually around the edges where you didn't put enough glue. So when you trim the panel, I recommend taking a bit off all the sides, not just one side per direction. Once the veneer is laid, you cut it and treat it like plywood.

    4) Now, finally, the finish. I'm scared to death of finishing it. I checked out Bob Flexner's Understanding Wood Finishing from the library but it basically says for Walnut you can do anything. Thanks Bob . He mentioned that he likes to warm the wood with a burnt umber wiping stain. Does that sound like a good idea? The veneer is pretty dark so warming might be a good idea. What about the finish? I suppose since it's a speaker it doesn't really need to be overly durable. What do you guys recommend? What do people normally use for speakers?

    Around here, we're being force to water based finishes. They don't have the orange tint that the older solvent based finishes had, so I shoot dewaxed shellac first to give an orange tint, then shoot water based lacquer. Otherwise, if you have solvent based wiping oil, you could use that (like Minwax wipe on poly).

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'll post pictures when I decide what to do. Thanks!
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-27-2010 at 06:52 PM.
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Posts
    955
    I haven't done any veneering yet but,

    I have fixed holes in walnut by doing what Mike suggested. I could not find the repairs after I sanded the epoxy/walnut dust mix out.

    I have read some articles about veneering and I seem to remember that to get a good seam between 2 pieces of veneer they were cut a bit over-sized and over lapped. You then make a cut through both pieces using a straight edge and a sharp knife like an Exacto, and the edges will then match up.

    Some folks do veneering the old fashioned way using hide glue and a glue pot. I think hide glue is softened by heat and I seem to remember that it can be re-heated gently to fix veneering misplacements. I think I read about this in a Fine woodworking article. You could do a search on their web site to find it.

    Welcome to the Family Jeff!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    Welcome, Jeff.

    Mike's advice was spot-on. There's nothing that needs added.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  5. #5
    Thanks for the advice Mike and everyone else! Luckily I won't have any seams because these particular speakers are pretty tiny (~8x10x6.25). I'll go for the orange shellac. Do you think it would be better to use the wipe on poly or a lacquer if I have the choice?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    Jeff,
    The wipe on poly is almost fool proof.
    "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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
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    17,471
    i like lacquer but to apply by hand the wipe on poly is like don said FOOL proof. and mike has given you great info!!!
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Eden Prairie, MN
    Posts
    39
    I just saw this video posted on Facebook and thought of your post: http://www.facebook.com/PlansNOW

    I haven't watched it yet but maybe it will provide some helpful tips: http://www.woodworkingonline.com/200...ter-craftsman/

  9. #9
    Sweet, gotta check that out. Thanks!

  10. #10
    All right. Mostly done with the veneer finally. I don't have a vacuum setup so I was just using wood on top to hold it down. Realized at first I wasn't using nearly enough glue. I also was having a pain getting the corners to not chip. How on earth do you trim this stuff without having it chip of of the edges? Any advice? I might make another set of boxes since I have plenty of veneer left over to try to do a better job. Now, it looks great from like 2 feet away, so they will be perfectly usable for the job (surround sound speakers), but not good enough for me!

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