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Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. *** NOW FINISHED ***

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Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. *** NOW FINISHED ***

Postby RogerM » 25 Oct 2018, 10:07

About 4 years ago I built an octagonal table out of bits of old worktop in a day because we desperately needed a table in the corner of the kitchen for Xmas.

cut and shut table.jpg
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It was a real "cut and shut" job and the intention was to build a circular replacement after Xmas, and nearly 4 years on I'm getting round to it. I'm going to attempt a veneered sunburst table, with an American Cherry inner circle and a Birdseye Maple outer disc, separated with an ebony and sycamore string, like this one I made in miniature last year.

test table 1.jpg
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I tested the concept with some small side tables and learned loads. However, these were only 30cms across, and the new table will be 140cms across, so there could be problems of scale. I'm using a substrate of 25mm ply. Weighs a ton!

The underside also needs a balancing veneer, and although this could be a simple straight veneer strip, I've decided to "sunburst" the underside as well as I need the practise on the full size table. The inner circle is 100cms in diameter, so I've cut some 2.5mm veneers from cherry using a brand new 5/8" Super Tuff Fastcut blade from Tuffsaws on my Startrite 352E. I tuned the saw using the Alex Snodgrass method (Youtube) and that combined with the new blade leaves a finish that would be ready for gluing if it wasn't for the fact that I will be bookmatching some of the veneers. The width of the cherry plank dictates that there should be 20 segments, and there needs to be an even number.

IMG_20181013_162727.jpg
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I've cut a template for the segments from some scrap 9mm mrmdf, and here it is on the table substrate, which I've cut to 150cms so that it is 5cms oversize all the way round. It will be cut to its' final size of 140cms with a router and trammel once the veneering is complete.

IMG_20181015_142056.jpg
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I've used the offcuts to frame the segments to get the grain looking right ....

IMG_20181015_142525.jpg
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.... and then used the segment I've just cut to match the grain in the adjacent piece of veneer.

IMG_20181015_151221.jpg
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The central angle is 18 deg (and a smidgeon) and I've cut them to the approximate shape with a japanese pull saw. 18 deg (+) means that 10 segments will come to just over 180 degrees.

The outer ring is from some maple, and I couldn't resist placing them roughly in position to get a preview of what it might look like!

IMG_20181015_160515.jpg
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The segments now need to be trimmed to precisely butt against each other. Normally I would use a veneer shooting board, but this time I thought I would try something different. I turned the "hold down" board from my veneer shooting board upside down and placed it on an 18mm ply base. The shooting board has a strip of 180 grit aluminium oxide paper glued to one edge to prevent the veneer slipping. A veneer segment is then placed on the board ...

DSC07020.jpg
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.... and a 1400mm Festool rail placed on top. Then I shoot the edge of the veneer with a palm router mounted on a Makita track adaptor, which fits the Festool rail straight out of the box. I'm using a 6mm Wealden spiral downcutter which leaves a beautiful clean, and straight, edge. Works a treat!

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When the trimmed segments are assembled, they produce 2 semi circles (+) which come to about 185 degrees each.

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Once these have been glued up, I place the semi circle in the shooting jig and rout a straight edge across the diameter so that the 2 semi circles should then fit together perfectly. What can possibly go wrong? The assembled disk is near perfect, and completely flat. I'm well chuffed and go to bed!
The following morning I come down to see that the disk has split along the diameter join, and there is now a gap of about 5mm between the segments at the circumference.

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The cherry has been in a back bedroom for the last 5 years, and was only kept in the garage for a couple of days whilst it was being cut into veneers. However, the movement is significant in just 12 hours. The circumference of this inner circle is 314cms, and it has shrunk by 5mm overnight. Obviously the veneer needs to acclimatise longer. However, if I leave it to acclimatise longer, what effect will the absorption of water from the glue have? I'm planning to use Cascamite as usual in my veneering projects.
There is only one way to find out. Time for another test piece. This time I make a disk 60cms in diameter, which will be 188cms around the circumference, as I have some spare ply that size, and I can use the offcuts of cherry from the veneers I have just cut. I am careful to make sure the joins are good, and by now the cherry should have acclimatised. The assembled disk was near perfect, even though I say it myself. :)

However, after gluing to the substrate using Cascamite as planned in a vacuum bag, the result is as I anticipated. The veneers have absorbed water from the glue, expanded, and as expansion is around the circumference, the veneer has nowhere to go, it has pushed the veneers apart in the centre before the glue has set. In one place it has split the veneer rather than pull a joint apart.

test table 3.jpg
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Test table 2.jpg
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So what now? I have several ideas, but would welcome any other suggestions.

1. Use an epoxy resin as the glue - something like West Systems Epoxy. (Unibond 800 isn't available in the UK). I believe that this will not make the veneers expand before it sets in the same way a glue with a water base will, such as Cascamite or Titebond 2.

2. Cut the veneers thinner - say 1mm, or even thinner - as the 2.5mm thick veneers exert excessive expansion forces, behaving a bit like solid timber. I would hope that the reduced forces in a thinner veneer might compress the veneer rather than force the disk apart.

3. Both the above!?

4. Insert some sort of motif - a compass rose perhaps - in the centre which appears to be where the damage takes place.

5. Glue the disk in segments - say 3 segments at a time. Expansion should not then be a problem as they can expand sideways, and when the last segment goes in the glue either side will have cured and should contain the veneer. Not sure whether I could do this sufficiently accurately though, and is my least favoured idea. Would definitely need trialling in a test piece.

6. Something I've not yet thought of!

More test pieces are obviously needed. I'm going to use West Systems Epoxy on 2mm beech veneers first.
I've cut a batch of 2mm beech veneers, and also some that I have taken down to 1mm.

IMG_20181024_143716.jpg
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These are now "in stick" on the dining room table where they will stay acclimatising over the weekend whilst I'm away. Next week I'll stick both these down to ply in the vacuum bag using the epoxy.
This certainly vindicates my decision to try a sunburst on the underside first. I know that straight veneers are not a problem and the expansion issues would only have become apparent when I used some prized stock on the top. So far, no real harm done, and the learning curve is near vertical! At least I'm learning what doesn't work, so I'm nearer to finding out what does. All good fun!

To be continued :) ...........
Last edited by RogerM on 29 Mar 2019, 21:21, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby Malc2098 » 25 Oct 2018, 10:53

Wow! Wow! And thrice wow!

I have no idea, but it's a pleasure to read and watch!
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby Rod » 25 Oct 2018, 11:51

Sorry I’ve never attempted anything like this but I’ve got a book on veneering and I’ll see if it covers problems like this.
My first thoughts is to do a bit at a time to allow it to expand and perhaps cut the segments smaller to allow for this??

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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby Robert » 25 Oct 2018, 12:15

The only time I tried with thick home made veneers they eventually came off because of movement forces over time. Since then I've used commercial 1.5mm and never had a problem.

I also have never got on with Cascamite. I can remember using it in school woodwork and it was very strong but I tried it at home and was not impressed.

Be interesting to see how you get on with epoxy and veneering. Sounds a little scary :)

Great WIP.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby Rod » 25 Oct 2018, 12:26

Where’s Rob, he’s done a lot of veneering?

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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerS » 25 Oct 2018, 21:52

Cascamite would never be my 'go-to' glue for veneering and it looks as if I'm not alone.

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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby 9fingers » 26 Oct 2018, 08:02

First thought that comes to mind is to try bonding the veneers to thin ply ( or make ply from the veneers?) before cutting to final size. You would then be doing the critical assembly with more stable parts.

Just a thought that arose before I'm fully awake so needs thinking through :lol:
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 26 Oct 2018, 09:34

Thanks for all your helpful comments guys. Previously I've always got on well with Cascamite as I find it has a good working life before it starts to grab, yet once it starts to set you have a firm bond in a reasonable time. Also it doesn't allow any creep, unlike PVA based glues. Actually, I used TB1 on my test tables without any trouble, but they are small and the circumference of the inner ring is only 78cms. On the full size kitchen table it is 315cms, and therein lies the problem. I am effectively veneering a surface that is 315cms across the grain - over 10ft - and that is why a 5mm gap opened up overnight, and why the centre gets forced apart when it absorbs moisture from the glue.

The inspiration for this piece came from an article in Fine Woodworking. I emailed the author - Mark Arnold - and he sent a very helpful reply. Basically I have correctly diagnosed the problem. Interestingly, although he used a PVA glue in the article, he goes on to say

I do not recommend PVA adhesives like those I used for the article--editor's suggestion to make the subject more approachable. Also, if the face veneer is substantially thicker than the layer of ply to which it is adhered, you may see some "creep", or movement at the joints. As you've noted, the thicker the veneer, the more it tends to behave like lumber. A few other tips: tape the seams well, don't spare the adhesive, and get the assembly into the press before moisture can wreak too much havoc.

RogerS - thanks for the link to the David Savage article. He covers the very same problem and got around it the same way I am planning - by the use of West Systems Epoxy. From what I have read there is the possibility of the resin bleeding through the veneer, but this can be minimised by the use of a thickening agent like colloidal silica. That is going to be my next approach when I get back from our monthly grandchild fix this weekend.
Last edited by RogerM on 29 Oct 2018, 20:57, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby TrimTheKing » 26 Oct 2018, 11:24

Would the same not have happened if you had glued the two halves up independently initially, then when they had gone off, fit one half to the other then glue down? That way any expansion of the first half would be around the outside edges and potentially stop the gaps in the centre, then when you glue the second half down there is half the amount of expansion...?

Just a thought without the experience to back it up...
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 26 Oct 2018, 22:51

TrimTheKing wrote:Would the same not have happened if you had glued the two halves up independently initially, then when they had gone off, fit one half to the other then glue down? That way any expansion of the first half would be around the outside edges and potentially stop the gaps in the centre, then when you glue the second half down there is half the amount of expansion...?

Just a thought without the experience to back it up...
I'm not sure that would help. I think the key has to be using an adhesive that doesn't cause expansion in the first place. A thinner veneer will also exert less force so that a combination of the two should be stable.

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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby will1983 » 29 Oct 2018, 12:36

Faced with this problem I think I would also be looking in the West System direction, however one modification I would make is to precoat the back side of the veneers with straight epoxy (no thickening agent).

My reasoning is that the method allows the timber to absorb as much of the epoxy as it likes and move accordingly. Once this has cured you could trim the veneers to final size and the epoxy should somewhat limit their movement. I would stack the wet veneers with plastic sheeting between them and a heavy weight on top to stop them curling up whilst the epoxy cures.

Once I had the veneers all cut to size and taped together I would use another coat epoxy to bond them to the substrate, I think I would thicken this slightly with 406 to prevent to much epoxy being squeezed out in the vacuum bag. The first layer would need sanding to remove any amine blush and provide a key for the second coat, this might be avoidable if a peel ply layer was used but I think I would still prefer to sand them to be certain.

To be straight this is just my mental meanderings and maybe a possible solution. I'm in no way any expert in veneering or the use of epoxy but I am an Engineer with an interest in woodwork and wooden boat building where epoxy is the staple bonding method.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 29 Oct 2018, 15:06

will1983 wrote:Faced with this problem I think I would also be looking in the West System direction, however one modification I would make is to precoat the back side of the veneers with straight epoxy (no thickening agent).

My reasoning is that the method allows the timber to absorb as much of the epoxy as it likes and move accordingly. Once this has cured you could trim the veneers to final size and the epoxy should somewhat limit their movement. I would stack the wet veneers with plastic sheeting between them and a heavy weight on top to stop them curling up whilst the epoxy cures.

Once I had the veneers all cut to size and taped together I would use another coat epoxy to bond them to the substrate, I think I would thicken this slightly with 406 to prevent to much epoxy being squeezed out in the vacuum bag. The first layer would need sanding to remove any amine blush and provide a key for the second coat, this might be avoidable if a peel ply layer was used but I think I would still prefer to sand them to be certain.

To be straight this is just my mental meanderings and maybe a possible solution. I'm in no way any expert in veneering or the use of epoxy but I am an Engineer with an interest in woodwork and wooden boat building where epoxy is the staple bonding method.


Thanks Will - that's an interesting idea. My initial thoughts were to use straight WS epoxy without any thickening, but the David Savage article which also related to a sunburst table, described using West System Epoxy with 2 table spoons of thickening agent to 3 squirts of epoxy using the WS dispenser to give the optimum consistency. I have read elsewhere that WS epoxy has a tendency to bleed through the veneer, and thickening the epoxy tends to fill the pores and prevents that happening, although that may not bee too critical in this instance as the table will be finished with Rustins Plastic Coating, which is a form of resin finish, to make it bomb proof in a kitchen environment.

Mark Arnold, who described the process of building a sunburst table in an excellent article in Fine Woodworking, which set this whole project in motion, also advised me by email to ensure that, whichever adhesive I use, to ensure that it is not too runny, and don't be too sparing with it.

I think I'll do my next tests using the 2mm and 1mm veneers with WS epoxy thickened as advised by David Savage and see where that gets me. If I'm still having problems I'll give your idea a try. Thanks for your interest.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 29 Oct 2018, 17:08

Just got home after a long weekend away, during which time the heating was off. The shrinkage at the circumference of the veneers I cut for the underside of the table has now widened to a 9mm gap. And these are veneers that have been cut from a plank that has been kept indoors for most of the last 5 years. It'll be interesting to see whether the West Systems Epoxy deals with both the expansion problems described above, as well as the shrinkage after the veneers have been glued to the ground.

shrinkage.jpg
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerS » 29 Oct 2018, 18:26

I think that that might be the reason for your problem...cutting the veneers from a larger piece....there is always going to be some difference in moisture content, I reckon, between the various slices.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 29 Oct 2018, 19:11

I guess the moisture content from a veneer cut from the centre of a 25mm board will always be higher than one cut from the face, but that is the nature of cutting consecutive veneers. I'm aiming to get 16 consecutive veneers from a 63mm plank of cherry, so will need to let acclimatise for some time after they are cut. These should give a match around the complete table top and hopefully will stabilise after a couple of weeks at between 1mm and 2mm. But hey ho! That's the nature of climbing a learning curve! :D
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 30 Oct 2018, 20:49

Just had a very helpful email from West Systems Technical Dept.

Epoxy is a larger molecule than water so should not soak into the timber as much as water. However any liquid applied to timber will cause some swelling of wood fibre.

We would expect the dimension changes to the timber to be less when bonding with epoxy rather than a water based adhesive but some may still occur.

We would recommend thickening the WEST SYSTEM 105 resin and 206 slow hardener mix with 406 Colloidal Silica to create an adhesive paste. Thickening the mix should also reduce the amount of penetration into the veneers reducing the potential swelling. This should also help prevent any bleed through veneers to the top surface.

It is best practice to allow the adhesive to gel at room temperature before post curing (applying heat to further the cure). This is because the heat can lower the viscosity of the epoxy. Also the heat may change the timber dimensionally. Therefore much better to allow it to gel at room temperature with the timber stable.

Changing the thickness of the veneers will have an effect but it is difficult to predict what this effect will be.

Your project, application and questions provided us with an interesting issue to consider and we are very keen to keep in touch and see how the rest of your testing goes.


I've got some resin, 206 slow hardener and 406 colloidal silica on order and can't wait to try it out.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby TrimTheKing » 30 Oct 2018, 22:43

Nice reply. Shame it didn’t interest them quite enough to send you the stuff for free! ;)
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby Jimmy Mack » 02 Nov 2018, 20:20

Interesting project Roger.

I too would go the Epoxy route, I don't feel it needs thickening with silica, maybe with a Burr or Pippy, by not necessary the Maple and Cherry.

Seems like the veneers need a 'rest' after they've been sawn, prior to shooting.

Have you considered the Robert Ingham method of jointing veneers? Essentially edge / butt jointing with PVA, prior to laying, there's a bit of a method to it, maybe you're familiar?....I do all my veneer jointing like this now... Creep is a

Have you consulted Richard's book? Richard, himself would provide valuable input here. How do I tag him?

Look forward to seeing more

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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy!

Postby RogerM » 13 Nov 2018, 19:21

So, after a lot of research and asking of advice, I ran out of reasons to prevaricate, so time to butcher some more wood! I cut some new veneers in some scrap beech, left them indoors a few days to acclimatise, then cut them into pieces of pie for a 600mm disk as before, and glued them down using West Systems epoxy with the slow 206 hardener in a vacuum bag. The advice was to thicken it with colloidal silica to the thickness of mayonnaise, which I found through trial and error to be 5 gently heaped scoops of powder to 4 measures of resin and hardener. This was a useful exercise. Initially I mixed too little resin/hardener/silica, but this is pricey stuff so I didn’t want to waste it. Having spread it out with a West Systems notched spreader, I was able to mix more pro rata to get a nice even spread without any waste, and the use of the slow hardener means that you have over an hour of working time to get everything in place and bagged up, so no panic.

It worked a treat. Here’s the centre of the test piece. Ignore the different colour wood on the right. This was a piece of leftover cherry as I had run out of the beech.

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test centre
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Whilst I had intended doing a second test using thinner veneers, I could see no point given that it had worked well with 2mm veneers, so time to glue up the underside of the table. Having noted how much resin and silica I needed to glue up the 600mm test piece, it was a simple calculation to mix the right quantities for the 1000mm cherry disk for the underside of the table. The original veneers had stabilised with a 12mm gap at the circumference, so I added an extra piece to each side and then shot it straight across the circumference with the palm router on the rail.

This time I was not going to given it any time to shrink or expand after trimming, so it was straight into the bag. The bag is 2m square and made up from a sheet of heavy duty polythene from Screwfix, with the sides stuck together using double sided “tacky tape”. The entrance to the bag was prepared with some more tacky tape and the hose from the pump sealed into place using some more tape.

Time to glue up the table - 19 shots of resin/hardener and 24 level scoops of silica seemed to be just right. Trial and error decreed that the smallest notched side of the spreader was the best one to use.

DSC07133.jpg
bagged up on floor
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The pieces of wood on the floor were used as rails inside the bag along which I was able to slide the table single handed into the bag, and then lift just one end to withdraw the rails before sealing the bag with the pre placed “tacky tape”. The end result was fine. There was a bit of resin seepage through one joint where I suspect the glue line had failed with all the handling - but hey! This is the underside, so quite good enough and I’m confident that it will clean up fine.

Having established that epoxy was going to work fine, I decided that the next priority was to cut the veneers for the top so that they can have a couple of weeks acclimatising before I need to use them. Here they are in stick in our dining room. I just love that birds eye maple that is going to surround the cherry!

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veneer stack
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bird eye maple
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Next job is to trim the cherry veneer to a circle which I do with my palm router on a homemade trammel. The centre pivot socket is stuck in place with double sided carpet tape and will stay in place until the underside is completely finished. The bulk of the material was trimmed off with a straight 12mm rebate cutter, but the final cut was made using a Wealden 6mm spiral down cutter which leaves a far superior edge.

DSC07140.jpg
trammel
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Now to trim the maple veneers that are going around the outside. First step is to cut a template using the trammel which I then use on the router table to cut a matching curve on the ends of each piece of veneer.

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curve jig
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These are then arranged around the edge of the table, book matching wherever possible. Sorry for the out of focus photo!

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matching veneers
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Once I’m happy with the layout, each piece is numbered. Then, finding a convenient radial join in the cherry, I use a straight edge to extend that across each piece of maple to mark the edge,

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straight edge
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Then having cut that roughly to size about 3mm or 4mm outside the line, I use it as a template to trim the other 32 veneers in blocks of 10 on the bandsaw.

DSC07144.jpg
bandsaw block
(208.84 KiB)


Final shaping to the line is done on a veneer shooting board, and as these are much shorter edges than the central veneers, I’m happy to do this with a plane rather than the router on a rail. As each piece is trimmed, it is used as a template to mark the adjoining edge of the next piece of veneer, So each piece has one edge marked out with a straight edge on the table and the other from the adjoining piece.

Then they are glued to the table in groups of 3. This time I’m using TB1 as shrinkage and expansion shouldn’t be a problem with smaller pieces during assembly.

Tried a couple of different methods or clamping down, using the shaping jig as a platten. I don’t have any long reach clamps so used some beech extensions ….

DSC07146.jpg
clamp extensions
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…. Before concluding that some simple cauls were easier to fit and just as effective.

DSC07153.jpg
cauls
(222.54 KiB)


With 33 pieces of veneer to fit in groups of 3, it will take me about 3 days to get through this stage.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby Andyp » 13 Nov 2018, 20:27

Good post Roger. So much thought in planning and execution. Can't wait to see the final result.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby Malc2098 » 13 Nov 2018, 21:18

Stonkingly good read!
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby DaveL » 13 Nov 2018, 21:39

It's good see you investigation work has paid off. Should be a nice looking table when finished.
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby Jimmy Mack » 15 Nov 2018, 20:55

Great write up Roger. Looking very neat too

Jim

Ps.I have that same router plunge base, do you find it pops up easy? Often catches me out, I really have to make sure the lever is firmly locked.



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Nordic Pine
 
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby fiveeyes » 16 Nov 2018, 01:15

Nicely done!
Great WIP, too. Much appreciated.
fiveeyes
New Shoots
 
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Re: Sunburst Dining Table - WIP. Photo heavy! Stage 2

Postby RogerM » 17 Nov 2018, 11:15

Thanks for all the kind comments guys. This is the first time I've done a genuine WIP thread. Normally I just do a write up when it's all finished and problems solved, so this is a new experience, and does focus the mind a bit, particularly when I didn't know whether I could do this before I started. Nice that there is no deadline. I aim to complete the underside this weekend, and then next week I may play around with a few ideas for the support/legs. Also weighing up the pro's and cons for the circular skirt that will go underneath - laminate with bendy ply or build out of the solid on a "brick" basis, as shown in this video?



Jimmy Mack wrote:.I have that same router plunge base, do you find it pops up easy? Often catches me out, I really have to make sure the lever is firmly locked.


Jimmy - I have no problem at all with the locking mechanism on my Makita plunge base. However, I always make sure that it is securely locked, but overall I find it to be a lovely piece of kit. The "soft start" is so smooth for fine work.
RogerM
Sapling
 
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