16 – How to Cut Your Own Veneer on a Bandsaw

16 – How to Cut Your Own Veneer on a Bandsaw


Voiceover: This episode
of the Wood Whisperer is brought to you by finewoodworking.com, the most trusted source of woodworking information on the internet. Voiceover: And by
Powermatic, the gold standard since 1921. (music) Marc: Welcome to episode
16 of the Wood Whisperer video podcast. I’m your host, Marc
Spagnuolo, and on today’s show we’re going to learn how
to cut our own veneer. Now, you might be wondering
why we’d want to go through all the trouble
of cutting our own veneer when veneer is commercially available. Well, for me, the most
important reason is this. Here I’ve got a sheet
of commercial veneer. It’s about 1/42 of an inch thick. And this is a sheet of home sawn veneer and it’s about 3/32 of an inch thick. Now because of this extra
thickness, the material’s much easier to work with
and we don’t run the risk of sanding through like we would with a paper thin veneer. Also, the furniture that we make with this will be much more durable
and it’ll have the look of solid wood. Now, if there’s a downside
to home sawn veneers, it would probably be the
fact that they’re limited to the solid stock that you have on hand. So if you’re looking for an exotic, highly figured wood, you’re
probably going to have more luck buying a bundle
of commercial veneer than trying to hunt down the perfect piece of solid wood and slicing
the veneer yourself. Now whether you use commercial or home sawn veneers, it’s very
important that we learn how to work with this material
for a number of reasons. Designs that would be
impossible with solid wood are made possible with
veneered sheet goods. And using veneer is more economical since a single one inch board
can yield over 40 pieces of commercial veneer
and about six to eight pieces of home sawn veneer. And even rare pieces of figured lumber can be sliced into hundreds
of sheets of veneer, which makes it possible for all of us to access the material. Now, thank to mass
produced and cheaply made particle board furniture,
veneer and plywood are four letter words to
many furniture lovers. It’s our responsibility as craftsmen to educate our friends, family, and customers so that they understand
the value of veneered sheet goods. After all, the best craftsmen in the world are using veneer in their work and veneer is no longer synonymous with poor quality. Now, in order to cut veneer, you’re going to need a bandsaw. Cutting veneer’s very
strenuous work for a bandsaw, so the more power the better. I’d recommend at least one horsepower. A properly tuned, 14 inch, one horsepower bandsaw should be able
to handle cutting veneer. Just take your time and don’t
try to push it too hard. But first thing’s first. We need to make sure
our bandsaw is tuned up and ready for the demands we’re about to place on it. Now, for more information on tuning up your bandsaw, check out the Wood Whisperer episode 13, bandsaw set up and tuneup. The next thing we need is a good, solid resaw fence. Now, there are two types
of fences that you can use for resawing veneer. The first is a single
point, pivot style fence where the wood rests
against a single point, allowing you to easily change direction as you push the wood forward. And second is a simple
solid fence, kind of like what I have back here. Where the fence is set to the drift angle and the work piece is
supported by the fence all the way through the cut. I prefer to use the solid fence style simply because once
it’s set, you could saw veneer all day and all you have to do is push the wood through. This means less eye strain, less stress, and fewer headaches. Now, the fences that come with bandsaws usually aren’t adequate
for resawing veneer. So you need to either
reinforce the existing fence, which can be as simple
as a piece of plywood double stick taped to the existing fence, or you could build an entire new one. Either one that slips
over the existing fence and secures in place or one that’s completely standalone. Now, I think it’s best to build one that’s a complete standalone
fence primarily because it’s easier to build
and also because we’ll be able to use it on
other saws in the future. So let me show you how to build one. The resaw fence will be a simple structure made from 3/4 birch ply. It’ll consist of a 24 inch
by five inch bottom piece, a 24 inch by seven inch front face, and five five inch by
five inch square supports. I start be determining the
spacing of the supports. This doesn’t have to be exact. I just need to leave
some room on both ends for clamping. I add a little glue to the
edge of one of the supports. Then I position it
against the bottom board, and brad nail it into place. It’s critical that one side of this joint be perfectly flush. This is the side that
the face of the fence will be attached to. I attach the remaining
supports in the same manner. I turn the piece over 90 degrees and pre-drill for screws. Two screws per brace should
add the extra support that I’m looking for. I like to give the screw
holes a quick sanding just to remove any torn out wood. And finally I attach the face of the fence with glue and brads. I also add a few screws
for extra reinforcement. A little sanding on
the fence face, and our fence is done. Now we’re just about ready to make our first test cut. But first I’d like to
discuss blade selection. Now, there’s a number
of opinions out there about which blade is
best for cutting veneer. And the variety of blades on the market is just overwhelming. Now, for our purposes,
just about any blade will get the job done. Some blades will cut smoother, some will cut faster, but they will all cut. And to prove that, I’m
just using the blade that came with my saw. It’s a 3/4 inch three
tooth per inch blade. Really nothing special. Now, if I get a decent
cut with this blade, imagine what I can do
with a premium blade. A premium blade can
produce a surface that is so smooth that it’s ready
for glue and requires absolutely no sanding. So here’s a few general
blade recommendations. For boards that are four
to five inches wide, use a half inch or 3/4 inch blade with four to six teeth per inch, with the least amount of set possible. Set being how much the teeth flare out on both sides which, ultimately, affects the width of the cut. For wider boards, you
want to use something that’s a little faster
cutting, so I recommend a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch blade with three teeth per inch. Now it’s time to set our fence in place. I set the fence about an 1/8 of an inch away from the blade. And then use my stock fence which should already be set for the drift as a guide for the resaw fence. If the resaw fence is tight
against the stock fence, then I know I’m in perfect alignment. I then secure the fence
at one end with a clamp, I recheck the measurement,
and then I clamp the other side. Now’s a good time to take
the final measurements at the bottom of the fence
and the top of the fence just to ensure that
they’re exactly the same. If they’re not, make the
appropriate adjustments to the bandsaw table. If the jig was built properly, the fence should be exactly 90 degrees to the table. The blade should also be
90 degrees to the table. If your resaw fence isn’t
perfectly perpendicular with the top, it’s not
the end of the world. Just make sure the fence is perfectly parallel with the blade. Now in order to ensure even pressure against the fence, I’m going to use a homemade feather board stack. Now, I just took four regular homemade feather boards, screwed them all together, and now I’ve got a tall feather board that applies pressure over the
entire face of the board. Now, here is our test
board which I just surfaced on three sides. I jointed one face and then one edge. Then I took it to the table saw and ripped the other edge so that I have a nice parallel board. Now, I marked one of the
edges with a triangle and that’s going to help
me keep all the sheets of veneer in order. I’ll feed the board
through with the jointed face up against the fence. So let’s get this party started and make our first test cut. Using my work piece as a spacer, I clamp the feather board stack into place. I don’t want to apply too much pressure, just enough to keep the board securely against the fence. I usually center my feather
board right in the middle of the blade. With the jointed face against the fence, it’s time to make our first cut. With a set up like this,
there’s not a whole lot that you can do wrong. Push with a moderate amount
of speed and pressure. Key your eye on the blade
itself, and make sure everything is tracking properly. Now toward the end of
the cut, I like to use my right hand to pull the
piece through the cut while carefully pushing with the left side using a long push stick. Now let’s take a look at our cut. That’s not too shabby for a stock blade. Now it’s a good idea at this point to look at the slice from all different angles and make sure everything
looks okay, looks consistent. If we’ve got a wedge shape then we know that the angle of the
table is a little bit off. If the sheet gets a little bit thinner at one end then the other, then we know that the fence actually
isn’t properly set up for the drift and we would need to repeat that part of the tuneup. But in most cases, you should end up with a reasonably nice piece
of home sawn veneer. Now, let’s take a look at
the original stock piece. Again, if we’ve got a rough surface here, of course we’re going
to have a rough surface on the stock piece. So typically what I do
is run this, maybe one or two passes at the
most, over the jointer just to clean up that face and get ready for our second cut. Now if the cut faces of your veneer are relatively smooth, you
can usually just glue that side directly down to your substrate, giving you a nice smooth
surface on the top. But if the surface is a little bit rough like mine is, you’ll want to do a little sanding before the glue up. And I allowed for that
extra bit of sanding when I set my fence to 1/8 of an inch. Now the best tool for this
job is the drum sander. If you don’t have one, you should try to find a friend that does. And if that’s not
feasible, then I recommend investing in a premium
quality blade so that you get the cleanest cut possible. Personally I like cutting my veneer sheets just a little bit thick at 1/8 of an inch, and then sanding down to
exactly 3/32 of an inch. It takes a little bit
longer but I tend to get more consistent results that way. Once we have all of our
veneer cut and sanded, we need to think about the layout. Now, most cases, you’ll need to join multiple sheets together in order to get the width that we’re after. Now, you remember that
triangle that we drew on the edge earlier? When we reassemble our
pieces, we should be able to use that triangle as a reference guide for the order. Now it’s very important for design reasons to keep these sheets in order. Since each sheet has nearly
identical grain patterns, we can come up with
some pretty cool designs depending on which way we face our sheets when joining them. Let’s cover the two most
common arrangements. The first pattern is called a book match. You simply turn one sheet over like a page in a book and glue the two pieces together. The resulting pattern is what looks like a mirror image. The second pattern is called a slip match. None of the pieces get
flipped, they’re just placed side by side. This is a good pattern
for really wide panels. Once we have the pattern
we’re looking for, all we need to do is
glue these guys together to make them into one solid sheet. It’s actually easier than it looks. All you need is a little bit of blue tape. Using a lot of finger
pressure, I stretch the tape across the joint and press it down firmly on the show side of the veneer. I usually place a piece of tape every six to eight inches. Then I run a single strip of tape across the length of the joint. Now I flip the board
over and make a little V shaped tent. This opens up the joint, giving me a nice channel for a bead of glue. And then flatten the board, wipe away the squeeze out, and place another piece of tape along the length of the joint. I also like to use a wooden seam roller to make sure that the
joint is nice and flat. Now if you happen to notice a gap along the joint line, have no fear. A gentle pass or two over the jointer will solve the problem. And believe it or not, that’s all there is to cutting your own veneer. You may run into a few
snags here and there but if your bandsaw’s set up properly and your wood is flat
and square, the resawing process should go quite smoothly. Just a quick tip. Be sure to wax the bandsaw table and the fence thoroughly. That’ll make your life a whole lot easier as you push the wood through the blade. So the next step would be to glue this veneer sheet to a substrate. But that’s a topic for another show. Now personally, I think
veneering is a technique that we should all learn. Whether you use commercial
or home sawn veneer, your design options expand
dramatically when you begin to incorporate
veneer into your work. It’s a great way to get
the most out of your tools, your wood supply, and your craft. Now just a few quick updates for you. Don’t forget to check out Wood Talk Online at woodtalkonline.com. We just added a voicemail
feature where you can leave us voicemails over the internet just using your computer microphone. It’s really cool. And if you haven’t been
to the Wood Whisperer site in a while, you
might have missed the new streaming video web cam and the chat room. Both are worth checking out and I believe I’ve got about 10 people
watching me right now. (using high pitched voice) Hi guys! Now lastly, don’t forget to check out the Wood Whisperer store. Not only can you find
great woodworking equipment and supplies there, you can click the link at the top left that
says, “Go to amazon.com.” That’ll take you directly
to amazon.com itself and all of your woodworking
and non-woodworking purchases will benefit the show. Thanks everybody. (quiet guitar music)

84 Replies to “16 – How to Cut Your Own Veneer on a Bandsaw”

  1. Using this veneering tech you could make two of any project out of the same amount of solid wood. That's the point. Veneers in days really gone by were much thicker than the 'toilet-tissue' we get these days, so this is a way of making your timber go further, plus you can clean up with a plane afterwards. Try that with modern veneers.

  2. i dont consider that a veneer. it is rather thick and what do you do with the end grain? (say on a table top) glued to a sub-straight it could be quite unstable and it is not economical givin that with that thickness of veneer. both sides of the sub-straight will be required to be veneered in order to maintain stability. thats my position. Mean whyle commercial veneers can often be quite thin.

  3. Generally anything less than 1/8" is considered veneer. Treating the end grain using home sawn veneer is no different than when you use any other veneer. You still need to cover up the ugly substrate. At around 3/32", these thick veneers are quite stable even over wide surfaces. And I agree that you would want to veneer both sides to maintain equilibrium.

  4. generally when i use veener i vacuume press it with a solids glued on the edge of my substraight that way my veneer covers both the substraight and the solid edging, leaving a clean edge. with 1/8" or 3/16" veneer the endgrain of the veneer is much more noticable. i guess that apeals to some to look good.

  5. I agree that 1/8"-3/16" would give a pretty noticeable border. I suppose some might like it. But the veneer I am talking about in this video is bandsawn at about 1/8" and sanded down to 3/32". Thats starting to get thin enough that the endgrain becomes less and less of an issue.
    But ultimately, to each his own. Many folks just trim out the veneered board after the veneering is done, which gives a noticeable border regardless of the veneer thickness. And same thing when making panels.

  6. yes that would work quite well as a floating panel. i dont want to arguee. its just interesting to see how every woodworker dose thing slightly different then the next. I studyed with Mark Paddison threw Humber College in Toronto. keep up the videos, i do like your design taste, how many people work in that shop?

  7. No argument here. Just different ways of accomplishing a task. And I actually have a one-man shop. Its all me. πŸ™‚

  8. really its only you? I share a shop with a friend only a few hundred square feet. You are very fortunite to be able to work alone. your shop looks huge and from what i see in the videos you got really awesome tools. seams like a cool and creative place to work.

  9. Yup just me. Oddly enough, I might be moving very soon and I will have to downsize the shop a bit. But I used to work in a small garage so I am no stranger to tight quarters, despite being spoiled for the past 4 years. πŸ™‚

  10. tight quarters are always associated to woodworking shops for some reason. haha. its all about making things work. i have a electric hoist that my 4'x8' veneer press is hung on and it hangs in the cieling above the table saw. iv seen some small shops that are just are amazingly orginized.

  11. It really depends on how well-tuned your drum sander is. I know guys who have it so well tuned that they pretty much make paper thin sheets of veneer just for fun. So You can pretty much go as thin as you dare.

  12. @DuctTaper98 There are many places on line that sell veneer. One that I really like is Veneer Supplies.

  13. Can you do the same thing with 2X6 and 2X4 since my idea is to buy slab doors and veneer them with natural wood designs. I don't have a band saw but my friend does. Any tips on this? Also thanks for your answer on my previous question.

  14. @papadonto8 You can do it with any wood, really. That's what makes veneering so great. You can take any wood you want and make it last a long time. Or make an entire table top from one piece of wood. And in your case, re-skin a door. If you do decide to do a bunch of these doors, you may want to look into vacuum press.

  15. @dchamberss Usually I just use what I have on hand. I don't consider the strength differences between I, II, and III to be dramatic enough to justify stocking them all and using them selectively based on strength. So I base my decisions on what I have on hand at the time and how much water the piece will see.

    As for my training, I worked with David Marks for a short time, and I spent about a year working in a refinishing shop. The rest (most) is self-training and studying.

  16. Great video as usual, Marc! This is going to save me some money- I am about to remodel my kitchen using hardwood flooring, and doing this should save quite a bit of loot over buying veneer floor slats. Just make it a little thicker and cut a tongue and groove and it should work out nice. Thanks again!

  17. i love how over built your fence is, screws nails and glue and it coulda used half the supports!
    totally the same thing i would have done! keep on with the great videos

  18. i cant believe how smoothe your bandsaw is. Mine's 24" pm and i think i need to replace the tires (which i have) but holly cow theyre not easy to change!

  19. honestly, it's actually not much cheaper. I wanted to cut my own out of an ebony board. But Stewmac has pre-radiused and slotted fingerboards. Saves a lot of time and headache knowing that it's accurate. you can cut a 3/8" thick piece from a board an mill it flat to clean it up then cut the slots and then use a radius block and some 60 grit paper to get the radius but believe me with the price of ebony Stewmac is way better. everything's done for you and you know it'll be accurate

  20. It isn't ideal, but you can cut thin pieces at the tablesaw. Might need so add-ons to make it safe though. And you won't be able to do really wide pieces.

  21. Some hobby stores sell several types of wood (mahogany, walnut, cherry, etc.) in 2 ft. lengths that are 3 inches wide in a number of different thicknesses (1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 in.); which is close to the same size as you can do on a table saw. And they aren't very expensive (usually less than $2 each.) The only drawback is that you can't get the nice figure and grain patterns as you might from a home sawn veneer. You just have to find the right store.

  22. You can effectively resaw veneer on a basic 14" bandsaw. I know MANY folks who do it. Select the right blade, tune up the saw, and you're good to go.

  23. Marc is right. I resaw on a 14" Grizzly just fine. The only thing I've done is put polyurethane tires and a Woodslicer resaw blade on it.

  24. I can't express how much i appreciate that you can talk to the audience without saying "um" every three words lol. Interesting video too thanks!

  25. For most furniture applications, they are certainly strong enough. I believe one of the magazines did a test that showed the traditional m&t joint faring the best. But if one joint handles 500lbs and another handles 400lbs, does it matter if all it will ever receive is 100lbs? That's sort of the logic I use when I approach joinery choices.

  26. With a finely-tuned bandsaw, you can get pretty darn thin. But the thinner you go, the more difficult it is. So I usually like to stay in the 1/8" or 3/32" range.

  27. I dream to have tools for wood work. With 10.000 usd. How i can buy tools same your tools?
    are looking forward to your advice and help

  28. I have a Delta 18-36 drum sander for sale. If you're interested PM me. Nothing wrong with it. I wound up upgrading to a Performax 22-44.

  29. I remember doing this with a friend about 35 years ago. He was a butcher with a compulsive fascination for personal, pan-economic issues (efficient and cheap). Butchers have powerful bandsaws and the blades are kept sharp to save labour. It produced 6-7, 10" wide pine veneers very quickly. The bandsaw and shop were being cleaned immediately afterwards…

  30. Best surface to glue these to? mdf or veneer core plywood? And with that, what issues are there with expansion/contraction? I do know that a veneer should be on both sides of a panel for balance. Great video.

  31. wonderfull video friend, im a longboarder and am thinking of making my own, very helpfull, but i'll be cutting 8×3's from my local lumber yard and my cuts are going to be 4 and a half feet lol, thanks though man!!!

  32. Any suggestions for an affordable bandsaw with enough cut height and a 3/4" blade for the hobby woodworker that I am ? Atm I only have a very cheap small bandsaw but I'm thinking about an step up that's not more than a grand…

  33. I need to cut 1 inch white oak boards down the middle and need a machine that can provide me with good constant cuts. What is the widest boards I can do consistently or can you go as high as the machine can allow? Have you seen a horizontal bandsaw and is it better to go with this or a normal bandsaw for the job I described. Thanks for a good video!

  34. first off great video , I own a wood Mizer LT 35 saw Mill ,I have some very good black walnut I would like to make some veneer ,what is the very best band saw for this task ? can I do a 12" wide board ? ty n

  35. I would like to see this done to be as smooth as a planed surface? you did say glue ready? or do we have different standards for glueing also how wide of a board are we talking about ? variables mate variables like it is said the devil is in the details

  36. you know….im starting to think that im to poor for the craft of woodworker and blacksmith.
    and i dont have anyone in my family and relations to "pass me down stuff"
    so…at this point in looking at about 10 000 dollar investment into tools
    maybe even more. yea….yea more than 10 000 dollars….

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