Now that the panel is made (in this case 2 layers of 1/8” bender), it needs to be covered with the appropriate wood. In this case it is cherry and I didn’t have any veneer wide enough to span the panel, so I had to bookmatch two sheets. You need to have a special tape to hold the panels together through the glue-up process. You also need to have a special cold press glue to bond the veneer to the curved panels.
You can get both at Joe Woodworker. BTW – He has a new pressure-sensitive veneer tape that can be easily removed after the glue up. And it is cheap as regular masking tape! The alternative is the traditional water-activated glue tape that is next to impossible to remove. The new tape used in vacuum bag applications is not so easy to remove, but I’ll take it over the other any day of the week. BE CAREFUL removing the tape from high figure woods as it will pull up some fibers! It is very sticky!
BTW – the bookmatch line should be almost invisible in the final product, but you need to be careful to get it centered and parallel to the sides of the panel because you can see it. Perhaps some notches in the veneer will help align them to the edges of the panel.
Folow the directions on the glue and apply to side one of curved panel. Apply the veneer being careful to center as described above. Squeegee out any air. Repeat on other side. Place in form. Apply some weight/pressure. Allow to dry. You should now have a curved panel that looks like this:
Now you will know the thickness of your panel (although you could have calculated it before) and the size your dadoes need to be in your rails and stiles. If I had it to do over again, I would have stuffed a layer of veneer between the bender panels because our thickness was about one thickness of veneer (about 0.042”) short of 5/16”. No problem on the stiles as those dadoes can be done to any size on the table saw. But as you will see, the dados get put into the rails while they are being machined. We were stuck using a 5/16” bit and had to stuff the back of the panel with veneer shims to make it tight to the outside of the rails.
The stiles are not curved in any way and I will not bother discussing them except to say that the 2” wide sections of the door at the stiles being flat did not significantly detract from the curved appearance of the doors. Also, we did not use raised panel bits to make these doors. A dado was added to the center of the stiles from top to bottom. The rails were made so that each of their ends included a tennon that fit into the dado. If you were to look at the top or bottom of a door you would see the difference, but again it was not too terrible. If we had raised panel bits to use, we could have as did Les Hastings (see link in earlier section), but this could no longer be the “easy way to make curved panel doors.”
The rails were cut out of 8+/4 cherry using a router and the longest 5/16” bit we could find. We starting with the radius of the outside of the cabinet the doors were supposed to fit. Allowing for a small gap, we calculated 3 radii taking into consideration the diameter of the bit and which side of the bit was cutting the radius. One for the inside of the rails, one for the dado the panel was supposed to fit into to, and another for the outside diameter of the rail. It took a lot of beers and arguing and was a painful journey, but we figured it out.
This is how the 8/4 cherry looked after the sawdust settled. Since the bit was not long enough to cut all the way through, the pieces had to be separated on another saw. The rough edges were then finished on an OSS and voila!
If I remember correctly, we used the bottom of the form to support the rails on the tablesaw to cut them and the tenon shoulders on the outside. We used the top of the form to cut the inside tenons, but had to tilt the saw blade as there was no way it would reach high enough to cut with the blade at “0” degrees. Both parts of the form were slightly damaged but it was necessary to use them. If you don’t see why, maybe I could whip up a diagram later. It is getting late and plently of things to do before monday.
Here is the door glue-up. Doesn’t look like much care was taken, but it worked.
The doors are shown here from another angle after being hung . If you noticed that they don’t sit perfectly, it is because they are not yet latched and have no stops. I haven’t seen them since, but hear they lined up perfectly and hey are very happy with them.
That’s it! Thanks for looking and I hope after you give it a try you will let us in on your adventure.