Woodworking Tips, Tricks and Techniques


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Cutting Veneers

Veneer cutting techniques...

Cutting Veneers

 We use several techniques in our shop to cut veneers. The factors to be considered are the type of veneer, (burl, crotch, etc), the length of the veneer, and is this a finish cut or are we just cutting to rough size.

Since veneers are never received with perfect edges, they must be straightened. As always, there are a host of choices. If I'm cutting a stack or "packet" of veneers, I generally will make a sandwich, using plywood on the top and bottom. I place the packet of veneers between the plywood, and then screw the plywood together. This will apply enough force on the veneers, to keep them from moving, while being cut. Then its a simple matter of running the through the table saw.


If the veneer is brittle, or prone to splitting, I'll use blue painters tape on the veneer, at the cut line. I tape both sides. This will ensure that the edges are perfect. I even use this tenchnique for cutting radial patterns. Care must be taken when removing the tape, as if you pull it the wrong direction, against the grain, it will tear out small pieces. In the photo below, the long section of tape was pulled with the grain, and shows no wood fibers, but the short end, pulled the wrong way, shows tear out.

Cutting radial pattern   Radial pattern complete  Blue tape tear out


A router with a bearing bit can be used, with this "sandwich", instead of the table saw, but my preference is the table saw, because I can cut the plywood along with the veneer. This prevents the possibility of splits or chips. (I hate it when that happens). Using the router, the tape becomes an annoyance, so I don't use it , and the plywood is unable to prevent chips. It's been my experience that chipping is far more likely using this method, as the spinning router bit applied to edge grain can grab wild grain and rip it out. The table saw blade is cutting from an angle that is far less likely to do any damage.

There a number of assorted hand tools used for cutting veneers, all of which will make, "joint quality", cuts. My personal favorite is the scalpel, but many people use a chisel, a rotary cutter, or a veneer saw, with great results. It's basically a personal preference of what you're comfortable with.

Hand tools for cutting veneers  Using a rotary cutter  Using a veneer saw


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