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Thin but strong veneer construction

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Project by footprints posted 1562 days ago 2829 views 11 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was an experiment to determine if two sheets of veneer could be laminated using epoxy to create a strong, flexible material for constructing thin bowls and other objects in a vacuum press. The answer is “yes”. I am indebted to Ger21 for answering my question on a suitable low viscosity epoxy. He suggested US Composites 635 resin which worked perfectly.

The thumbnail picture shows how light is transmitted through the .038” finished laminate. The light wood is ash and the dark is walnut. Pie shaped veneer was prepared in the classic manner with tape as shown in photo one. The grain of the second sheet runs 90 degrees to the first. One sheet is epoxied, lined up with the other and wrapped in wax paper to prevent sticking to the mold. The five laminates were made at once and put in the press. This epoxy takes a day to cure but you will really appreciate the open time when constructing complex pieces.

Look at the edge of the laminate in photo three. It shows the epoxy squeeze out after pressing. The epoxy penetrates the wood, veneer tape and is only stopped by the wax paper. The only way to get the veneer tape off is sanding. Sanding knocks off the plastic look and exposes the wood. This laminate is STRONG and extremely flexible!

The final photo is a scalloped platter I made which I don’t like a bit. It’s 24” in diameter and you can load it with fruit without failure of the laminate.

I plan to use this technique for pierced objects, screens and back lit panels on future projects and would appreciate any other ideas you may have for this material. Thanks for your interest.

-- Ray, Phoenix, Maryland





10 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14416 posts in 2181 days


#1 posted 1562 days ago

I have been wondering about that, but was going to laminate with wood glue. Thanks for the info

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Blake's profile

Blake

3432 posts in 2379 days


#2 posted 1562 days ago

Wow, interesting. Thanks for sharing.

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View footprints's profile

footprints

35 posts in 1613 days


#3 posted 1562 days ago

Dave, the epoxy came all the way through the ash and the veneer tape. I’ll try your tip on using the plastic sheets to see if this gives a glossy finish.

-- Ray, Phoenix, Maryland

View Loogie's profile

Loogie

98 posts in 2285 days


#4 posted 1562 days ago

Very cool Ray. Do you think there will be any expansion/contraction issues with the cross grain or is the wood really just a plastic now so it won’t move at all? I’m sure I’ll think of some neat uses for that!

-- Mark

View Ger21's profile

Ger21

600 posts in 1636 days


#5 posted 1562 days ago

From my experience, some epoxy can saturate the wax paper, making it difficult to remove. I always use plastic. I buy the plastic drop cloths in the small packages at Home Depot. Not the really thin ones, though. 2 or 3 mil, I think.

How much penetration you get depends on the wood species. I’ve never worked with ash veneer, though. But, I made a 3/4” thick test board out of 35 layers of veneer, rolling epoxy on both sides of each sheet. I used maple and makore, and the epoxy didn’t penetrate through the veneers. When I cut it, it looks like wood, not the plastic it would look like if fully saturated.

One thing to be aware of, is to be sure to use enough epoxy. If enough soaks into the veneer, it’s possible you’ll get a glue starved joint. Probably unlikely, though, due to the thinness of the veneers. I’ve seen this when epoxying veneer to baltic birch plywood. The epoxy soaked into the thicker plywood face veneer, and left a less than perfect bond.

Nice job, btw. You can make some incredibly strong and stable things with wood and epoxy.

-- Gerry, http://home.comcast.net/~cncwoodworker/CNC_Woodworker.html

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

4621 posts in 2387 days


#6 posted 1562 days ago

That is so cool. I love wood saturated with epoxy. Really strong stuff. I never thought of only using two veneers. It looks great. But like you say, now what to do with it? It has real possibilities. The bowl is a real possible, along with shades and room divider panel thingies.

Good Job,
Steve

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View bobkberg's profile

bobkberg

329 posts in 1578 days


#7 posted 1554 days ago

Very nice! I love a new (to me anyway) idea! This approach shows promise for light fixtures also!

-- Bob www.singularengineering.com - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14416 posts in 2181 days


#8 posted 1554 days ago

Are you going to fire proof it for a UL label??

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View footprints's profile

footprints

35 posts in 1613 days


#9 posted 1554 days ago

Bobkberg – back lit panels using LED’s occurred to me, too. I suspect regular incandescent bulbs would discolor the wood or epoxy if it gets too hot. I also saw another Lumberjock making fish mobiles and thought this would be a perfect material for that. I can’t find his home page, however.

-- Ray, Phoenix, Maryland

View B0b's profile

B0b

90 posts in 1195 days


#10 posted 76 days ago

I was just searching for something like this. I was considering using a sheet of plexi behind veneer to build a curved piece for a sconce, but I like this idea better, and the crosshatch pattern in the grain will give it a unique look.

-- Time to get started

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