Veneer and curly wood stability questions

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Forum topic by Eric_S posted 11-23-2009 10:14 PM 1355 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1565 posts in 3371 days

11-23-2009 10:14 PM

I got around to laying out the pieces for the nightstansd I designed and am starting to work on: I layed the pieces onto my cherry lumber, and heavy figured curly cherry 4/4 for the top/panels/and drawer fronts. But then I realized that this is probably a bad idea. Curly isn’t stable right? I also realized I’m probably better off resawing these 3 pricey 4/4 boards of curly cherry into veneers. I’m pretty new to woodworking and haven’t tried veneer yet nor do I know how to really do it. I’ve read a few articles on it but not too much…I know I need to veneer both sides and if I use solid wood it should be oriented in same direction as the solid wood grain. I’ve also seen two methods of how its done, the double pot with veneer hammer, and the veneer press.

This is my first large scale fine woodworking project so I will definitely need practice before I try on the real pieces. I also don’t want to spend a lot more on wood, and probably will have enough if I dont waste all the curly on a few pieces.

Am I correct in thinking that for a top of a nightstand and side panels, solid pieces of curly probably won’t be stable, even with breadboards?

I am now clueless into what I should do. I like to learn difficult skills by being thrown right into them, even for beginner projects. I think I may have to re-layout all my pieces if I go this route though because I am also using 1/2” curly cherry for the two drawer fronts.

On a similar note, I still need to buy 8/4 wood for the legs. Is quartersawn the only way to go for legs or will normal cherry be ok? Is their an alternative wood you can recommend that will look good complementing or contrasting a natural(no dye or stain to darken) cherry finish. I think I have just reached my skill limit here.

Some guidance would be greatly appreciated.


-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

7 replies so far

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3701 days

#1 posted 11-24-2009 12:08 AM

Curly lumber can be as stable as straight grained lumber as long as it was dried properly. I have used it for years on many projects and have never seen it act any different. The tricky part about curly lumber is the chance for tearout when planing it.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3371 days

#2 posted 11-24-2009 02:20 PM

I always thought curly wasn’t stable. Hmm, learned something new. Now would you see using the full 4/4 piece of curly for the top a waste? I can’t decide if I want to spread it out and use veneers. Sounds like a hassle.

Also, after discussing with my wife and a few other LJ’s, I think I’m going to use Maple for the legs.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3701 days

#3 posted 11-24-2009 03:00 PM

I like solid wood personally. Look at my projects as I have built my daughters whole bedroom set out of African mahogany and curly maple. It’s six years old now and hasn’t warped or cracked from seasonal movement.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 4126 days

#4 posted 11-24-2009 03:21 PM

Eric, I second Julian’s statement about curly working just fine if dried correctly.

As for using the full 4/4 for the top, that really depends on the look you are going for. If you want the focus to be on the top and drawer fronts, then by all means go for it. Remember, most nightstands are not tall enough to really show off lovely materials below the tops. You could always go with a second type of wood or stain for the legs and the sides. This would really make the top or the drawer faces jump out.

View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 3619 days

#5 posted 11-24-2009 03:45 PM

Funny I had a similar question to the OP. Obviously this is bedroom furniture, and the chance of movement warping solid wood panels is less, but what about a freestanding cabinet for the bathroom (and all that humidity fluctuation)? Would solid panels, either raised or tongue and groove, be out of the question for a freestanding vanity?

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4263 days

#6 posted 11-24-2009 03:52 PM

I was going to make a solid wood cherry top for our kitchen table but then decided that resawing the wood would give me better opportunities.

So I resawed the 5/4 cherry and sanded it down to 3/16” thickness. This gives me a LOT more wood and I can now arrange the grain into attractive patterns. I intend to glue it on to 3/4 birrch ply.

I got 4 pieces out of each piece of 5/4.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3371 days

#7 posted 11-24-2009 05:29 PM

Dustin, what do you mean by using the 4/4 on the top depends on what im looking for? Are you saying that 4/4 is too thick? Just curious as I’ve never done this.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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