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Building a Small Entertainment Center
Making A Radial Pattern With Veneer
I got a bit side tracked from working on the doors. Since I could see how they would look
installed, I wanted to finish the top, half to get out of the way, half to decide on the design details. I first
made a radial design from satinwood, but decided I didn't like it. So I made a second set from ebony. I also
made an 1 1/4" thick circle to sit on the ends of the top, to give it a little extra design detail.
I did have an ebony veneer flitch with enough pieces, (24), to do a twelve piece radial pattern at both
ends, so both ends had the same pattern. I did cut a couple extra's just in case. I taped both sides of the veneer
with painters tape to eliminate chipping on the edges, and then cut the wedges out on the table saw, in one shot.
By sandwiching the ebony between plywood, it helped with eliminating chips as well. Screwing a piece of plywood on
top of the sandwich helped in cutting the wedge shapes.
This is a quick way to get to get perfect, chip free edges on a fairly large number of identical
pieces. The taping is time consuming, but worth the trouble. Since I did keep careful track of the order in
which the veneer was cut from the tree, I was able to lay out the radial patterns with no two pieces more than
two pieces out of order. This is important if you want the grain to line up all around the way around the
pattern. I start with piece number one, the number three on the right side, then number five and so on. On the
left side I go with the even numbers... 2,4,6...
After removing all the tape from both sides, it was time to start assembling the radial patterns.
Working from the back side, also known as the glue side, I started taping the pieces together. It's important to
pull the joint together, but not too tightly, or it will form a cone. When you're done taping half a circle
together, take a straight edge and check it. If it is greator than a half circle, you can trim it with a
scalpel. If it's less, there's not too much you can do. For this reason, it is often suggested that you cut the
wedge pieces about a half a degree larger than desired. In this case, it was fine.
With the back side finished, the joints tight, and the piece laying flat, we can flip it over and
tape the face side with veneer tape. It' pretty much the same process, although you need to wet the tape. After
the tape is applied, it is worked into the veneer with a roller, or your finger, making sure of good contact,
with no bubbles. Once the veneer tape has dried, the blue tape can be removed from the back. You now get your
first real look of the pattern. Notice the ends of the pieces have numbers marked on them as well as the tapered
areas. This allows me to trim off the waste, then use the matching pieces on the edges of the top. This gives
the appearance of solid wood edges.
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