Author Topic: PLEASE HELP with veneering decorative box; 19th cent. French replica  (Read 2935 times)

amargulies

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I'm somewhat new to woodworking and veneering and would greatly appreciate your help.  I'm making a veneered, decorative wood box - my own design, similar to several 19th cent. French boxes I've seen.  I think I have most of it properly planned, but I'd appreciate help with a few issues.

My box will be about 16 1/2" x 12 1/2" x 3 1/2" - assembled as a closed box, with the lid later sawn apart about 1/3 of the way below the top. Lid and sides have central veneered panels of amboyna burl.  The lid will have several courses of borders of tulipwood crossbanding, separated by 1/16" inlaid brass strips, and the sides will have the same tulip crossbanding and brass strips above and below the central, wide amboyna strip.  Substrate is quartersawn Honduras mahogany, counterveneered with seagrass mahogany.

A couple questions - I plan to use hide glue - hot glue for the veneering, and Old Brown Glue for the joinery.  What should I use to glue my inlaid brass strips?  Will either of these be adequate?  I was told fish glue is the best for metal, shell, etc. but I don't know exactly why.  Please advise. 

I plan to first veneer the amboyna center panels, then trim with cutting gauge and remove excess to make room for crossbanding.  What process and glue should I use for the crossbanding?  If I hammer veneer hot glue, I see 2 problems - normally the tulipwood crossbanding would have veneer tape, because it's made up of many 3-4" strips of tulipwood (the tulip veneer sheets are only 4-5" wide).  The veneer tape would be in the way of hammer veneering.  However, perhaps when I joint up the tulipwood sheets, I could glue them edge-to-edge and later remove the veneer tape.  The other issue is which way to scrape with the hammer - if I scrape towards the seam and center of the box, the glue will ooze out the seam between the crossbanding and center amboyna panel (maybe ok?).  If I scrape towards the outer edges, maybe the crossbanding would separate from the center panel and there would be a gap at the seam.  Or, maybe once the glue starts to stick, it won't move?

Another issue is my corner joinery - I plan to have chamfered corners, to be cut after the box is assembled and glued.  When initially gluing the box (before chamfers) I planned to cut rabbets on each end at the corners, as a sort of drawer joint (not a locked drawer joint).  Is this good enough?  The box will eventually hold a set of Japanese kitchen knives (somewhat heavy), but will be handled with great care and kept stored at home.  Do I need biscuits or splines for strength?  It seems like maybe the joint with 2 rabbets is almost equivalent, and just as strong as biscuits.  Thank you all very much for any help.  I'd love to email photos of my design to anyone who's interested or could help me, since I don't see how to post them here.  This might help explain my joinery as well.

One other final question - historically, at what stage would the various veneers have been applied - for crossbanding in particular, before or after glue-up?  I'm concerned about where the veneer edges meet at the chamfered corners.  If I were to apply all crossbanding before glue-up, then cut chamfered corners, then veneer the now-exposed corners, the edges of the side panel crossbanding would be exposed.  Would this look bad?  My solution is to only veneer the amboyna before glue-up, and veneer the amboyna corners afterwards.  Maybe the burl pattern would obscure the visible edges.  For the crossbanding, I'd think it's almost as easy to just veneer all the crossbanding after the box is glued and assembled.  Then, I can have perfectly fitting (maybe mitered?) crossbanding at the corners.  What do you think, and how was this done historically?  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR ANY HELP.

Adam

ttalma

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Re: PLEASE HELP with veneering decorative box; 19th cent. French replica
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 08:08:37 AM »
I won't be able to answer all your questions but can offer a few pointers. 1 thing to be aware of when hammer veneering with hot hide glue is that there is water absorbsion into the veneer, this is one reason why both sides get glue on them to keep the veneer from curling. Also what happens is the pieces increase in size slightly. This is more noticable on small pieces than large ones.

Then go back and cut the recess for the edge banding. For the edge banding you mentioned that the pieces are about 3" long I would lay these in idividually, and not bother taping them together with veneer tape. Start in the middle and work to the corners. If you try to fit these dry your piece will be to long when you get to the corner. I would also start on the long sides and trim the corners once the glue has dried.  Then do the short side.

After the edge banding is in I would then put the brass in.

You also may want to consider sawing the veneers yourself. I find comercial veneers to thin and and when your scraping the glue off the face it's real easy to scrape through the veneer. And depending on the size of the brass inlays don't be to suprised if a few pop out inover time. because of the expansion/contraction issue. Hide glue is a good choice for this since it will make repairs easy. And for that same reason I would use shellac as the finish.  For the substrate I suggest using 1/4 sawn stock to reduce movement problems. If it's possible and your veneering all sides I would suggest 1/4 sawn oak as a substrate. I've had little problems with this moving.

You should probably plan on makeing a couple of test panels to learn the technique.
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amargulies

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Re: PLEASE HELP with veneering decorative box; 19th cent. French replica
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2009, 02:59:36 AM »
Thank you very much for those pointers.  That's a great suggestion - to lay the crossbanding pieces individually, starting in the middle, doing the long sides and then cutting the corners before laying the short sides.  I hadn't even thought about the strips expanding from the moisture in the glue - you're right, I can imagine it fitting fine when dry, but then the mitered corners wouldn't fit once it's full of glue.

I'm using 1/4 sawn Honduras mahogany as my substrate.  I have a great book - 'Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies & Society', and it seems like most of the boxes in there have mahogany substrates.  One thing I really don't understand - almost every single box in that book (and there are hundreds) is fully veneered, and does NOT have a floating lid.  Now, I was told I shouldn't use box or dovetail joints because they might telegraph through the veneer - this makes sense.  So what type of joinery would all these antique boxes have used?  It doesn't seem like simple miter joints would be strong enough, and I can't imagine them all having full-blind dovetails.  Will I be OK with my proposed drawer joints, simply using a rabbet on each end?  It seems my options are limited (regarding splines or biscuits) since I'm chamfering the corners.

I'd consider sawing my own veneers or buying thick ones, but I don't think I can get amboyna burl or tulipwood in solid pieces.  Plus, I don't know if I could saw them evenly myself, having little experience with woodworking.  I'll be very careful with the veneer hammer - thanks for your feedback on that.  If you can, let me know what you think about the corner joinery.  As for the mitered corners of my tulip crossbanding - perhaps I should use the technique I've read about - glue the perpendicular strips down with the corners overlapping.  Then cut the miter straight through both strips at once, remove the waste, and they should then fit perfectly and can be reglued down - yes?  THANKS AGAIN.

Adam

klkirkman

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Re: PLEASE HELP with veneering decorative box; 19th cent. French replica
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2009, 06:24:20 AM »
Adam,


 I believe Amboyna burl blocks are available on eBay pretty regularly. I have bought quite a number over the last year to make drawer fronts. Far from cheap, however.

If by "tulip" wood, you mean tulip poplar, it was a commonly used secondary wood in the Mid-Atlantic and is widely available, and in quite wide widths.

Karl
Karl

klkirkman

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Re: PLEASE HELP with veneering decorative box; 19th cent. French replica
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2009, 08:51:32 AM »
Further to my earlier post, I did some more digging.

While tulip wood commomnly means tulip poplar in the Eastern United States where I live and where it is commonly used as secondary wood on furniture, in context I doubt that is what you meant.

If by tulip wood, you mean Brazilian Tulip Wood (which I suspect now)  there are solid blocks for sale on eBay at this time, and I would expect appear regularly.


Karl
Karl