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Help with Bookmatch top for nightstand

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Forum topic by Eric_S posted 08-15-2010 10:51 PM 1169 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


08-15-2010 10:51 PM

I started to mill the wood for the top and drawer fronts of the nightstands today, and was wondering if the wood I have is thick enough to do what I’m wanting. I’m hoping you guys have some suggestions on making it work.

I have bunch of rough milled Curly Cherry boards. They are 5/4 rough. I’ve flattened one side, but I haven’t resawn it yet because I’m not sure if it will be too thin for a nightstand top. What do you think? I’m guessing I may be able to get them maybe 5/8 if I’m lucky, but I highly doubt it. The board I really want to use has a big twist in it, so I may have to save that one for a smaller project.

So, is 1/2-5/8 too thin for a top? I’m guessing the answer is yes. So how can I bookmatch these gorgeous Curcy Cherry boards and still use it as a top? Would I have to use MDF or ply for the quick route? The entire nighstand is solid hardwoods and is my first fine woodworking project so I would hate to use MDF or ply in this project….I feel like its cheating, but I know its necessary for veneering. I was hoping to have the top 3/4-1” thick. The legs are 1 1/4” thick at the tops and curve to 1 7/8” at the bottom.

Thanks.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN


22 replies so far

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#1 posted 08-15-2010 11:22 PM

hard to say exactly without seeing your design, but generally that is too thin. If your legs are that thick, a thin top (even one 3/4” thick) might still look disproportionally thin. I would suggest using your 5/4 stock as is for the top (~1” surfaced, if you’re careful).

Bookmatching is nice, but I personally find it nicer in framed panels or very long and thin tops (like, say, a sofa table). If the boards have a particularly nice figure, you might consider saving them for bookmatching a panel for another project – panels are not really load-bearing and can be 1/2” thick.

i’m curious to see your nighstand design though.

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#2 posted 08-15-2010 11:30 PM

just checked out your other blog posts… I think you definitely need a thicker top. but it looks like you’ve designed in an inlay border – a perfectly easy way to incorporate a veneered top. I wouldn’t sweat using a manufactured wood product underneath. You could use solid wood underneath, but it wouldn’t offer any real advantage. Of course I do understand your desire to keep it 100% solid :-)

also: nice mortises! how are you making them?

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#3 posted 08-15-2010 11:48 PM

The design pics are old and the pics of the legs were before the curves were cut but I guess they are still thick, they are thinner than the original design. Also, the aprons are 3/4 thick and the side/back panels are around 1/2” thick. I’ll post a dry fit sometime during the week once I finish it. I had a few pieces that need a little TLC before fitting that slowed me down today.

I’m thinking that this curly is so nice that I may just want to veneer some of these pieces. After all, I’m supposed to build a matching dresser and bed frame lol eventually, so having it all from the same pieces would look best.

If I was to veneer it, how thick do you think the the top should be and would MDF or ply be better?

Thanks, I plunge route out most of the waste and then mortise chisel them square.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#4 posted 08-16-2010 03:29 AM

Good idea. After all, if you’re just using the wood for its figure, might as well get that much more out of it.

As far as which substrate to use, I dont know… never done veneering. I’ve never read anything saying one would be better than the other, but my guy instinct is to use ply, since it’s essentially multiple veneer layers. Also, it will be easier to attach edging to than MDF. It’s tough to attach things to the edge of MDF.

what sort of bandsaw do you have?

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#5 posted 08-16-2010 03:33 AM

Good point with the edges. I’ll go with ply and do a frame around I think, still have to think about it some more.

Grizzly G0555 with the riser and a woodslicer blade.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#6 posted 08-16-2010 02:26 PM

I’m unsure how thin my bandsaw will be able to cut the log, guess I’ll find out next weekend. If it’s over 1/16” thick then its not really veneer and will expand/contract from what I hear. If I can’t cut it that thin, would gluing it to a solid substrate like MDF or Ply be a bad idea since those wouldn’t move as much as the thicker cut “veneer”? I really don’t want my veneer to creep loose of the substrate.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#7 posted 08-16-2010 02:33 PM

Dont forget that you’ll need to dress the backside – even if you make a perfectly thicknessed piece, the blade will still leave tracks that will need to be removed. So if you start off with a 1/8” cut, you can remove 1/16 (easily) when surfacing.

You bring up a good point though. All veneer is going to want to move, but the thicker it gets, the more force it has behind it. I wonder if someone with more experience can chime in…. if you DO use ply, might it be better to orient the grain of your veneer sheets parallel to top veneer layer of the ply? I dont know, but it might be worth finding out.

finally: definitely practice your resawing on some wide scrap first. Would hate to have you mess up that nice piece you’re talking about :-)

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#8 posted 08-16-2010 02:46 PM

Oh, there will definitely be practice cuts first on some crap wood ;) And good suggestion with starting with 1/8”.

I don’t know if orienting it to the same direction as the top layer of ply veneer would help at all, each layer in ply is oriented 90 deg from previous one to prevent movement, so orienting the veneer to the same as the top I don’t think would help much. Ugh, this is starting to go way outside my comfort zone, but then again, thats how I learn best :)

Thanks for the replies Aaron, I’m really surprised others aren’t chiming in :(

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#9 posted 08-16-2010 02:56 PM

no prob :-)

Don’t sweat it… overall I don’t think you’ll have too much of a problem with either MDF OR ply. Any chance you could find a book or chapter on veneering at your library? I’ll look at the books I have at home tonight – i only have a couple, but it might help.

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#10 posted 08-16-2010 03:11 PM

Yeah, I’ve done a lot of research already and have some experience doing two veneered shelves after deciding that I didn’t like the board choices I used for the middle shelf of either nightstand. It’s extremely visible and noticeable. So I got some plain cherry veneer to glue over the solid jointed cherry lol :( I used Cold Press Glue for it, and oriented it the same was as the shelf grain. I also used the cherry veneer on the bottom of the shelf too. I just hope the 3 glued up boards expanding and contracting dont slowly loosen the veneer or cause it to crack. I also don’t have a veneer press, nor do I care to make one for the time being, so I have a top and bottom panel to distribute the pressure and used a lot of clamps and solid wood pieces to use as a manual press.

If I decide to veneer the top I would definitely veneer the underside, but would use a cheaper backer veneer instead of this pretty curly. But for now, I’m just weighing all my options. I’d also do a thin contrasting hard maple framing around the top to make it look nicer. Only problem is I’m out of hard maple, so that would add more cost and time to the project. I want this thing to be done already, its been going on forever.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#11 posted 08-17-2010 02:54 PM

Ok, I decided to go down the veneering path for the tops. I’m having difficulty deciding the thickness of the substrate that will look well proportioned to the rest of the table. The dimensions of the table are roughly 18” wide by 16 deep I believe. The Legs are 1 1/4” square on top and curve on two sides out to 1 7/8”. Is 3/4” substrate too thin? Just right? I think I have some scrap wood at 3/4” that I can lay on top and see how it looks, but I’m hoping someone here has some recommendations. The aprons and front blades between drawers are 3/4” thick. I’m guessing the veneer I slice will be between 1/16 and 1/8, hopefully closer ot 1/16.

The reason I’m asking is I want to go ahead and order the additional hard maple I’ll need to frame the top so it has time to acclimate to my shop. I’ve never framed a top before and I’m wondering would it be best to frame the top with the face sides of the maple facing up, or the edge side facing up and the face side facing outward? This would help determine the thickness and width of the lumber I need to order.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#12 posted 08-17-2010 03:15 PM

Did you say that you’re going to veneer the underside of the top as well? In considering how the thickness of the top looks, keep in mind what sort of edge treatment you want to put on it. Is the edge banding going to have a fairly square profile, or some sort of bevel? I would think that 7/8-1” would be sufficient for nightstand… you could always have your edge banding extend lower than the bottom surface in order to make it look artificially thicker. not sure if you want to do that sort of thing.

As far as which way to orient the maple, I’d do the easiest thing, which is to have the face pointing out… that will leave what is probably some nice figure on the edge pointing up for you to see.

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#13 posted 08-17-2010 03:26 PM

Yes, I’d have to veneer the underside to balance it out from all that I’ve read. I’d rather not use the fancy curly for the underside, so I’ll probably slice some cherry sapwood I have for the underside veneer.

Good point, I dont know what kind of edge banding I want yet lol. I just know I want to frame it if I’m veneering it, and that the framing should be made out of hard maple. I was thinking a bevel on the underside, but I dont know how thats possible with a veneered top, I’m guessing the bevel would have to be contained in the edging. I’d prefer the framing to be pretty straight grain since the veneer will be wild enough. Hopefully I can get some pieces with straight edge grain and not the flaky grain I see on my legs (its ok for that area). Maybe I should just veneer the tops first before I decide on the edge banding (NOT VENEER). But in the mean time the hard maple can still have time to acclimate. I think I have to do a quick new sketchup to see how stuff looks , the current one I have is very outdated.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2932 days


#14 posted 08-17-2010 03:30 PM

yeah i’d be interested to see your vision of the new design.

and yeah, if you have the veneer, then the edge treatment will have to be contained within the edge banding… this can get more complicated than you originally intended :-) not in a bad way – just so many choices, all of which would result in a fine piece, but you want the best of course.

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Eric_S

1551 posts in 2663 days


#15 posted 08-17-2010 03:36 PM

This project is nothing but firsts for me, and I’ve changed a lot on the fly. It’s been a tremendous learning project, and it’s coming together very nicely and it’s something I’ll be very proud of for finishing. I’ve gotten to the point though where I just want these to be finished so I can move on to some smaller more manageable projects, but at the same time I still want to make sure these look nice and I enjoy seeing them everyday so I dont want to rush it.

Thanks again for the help. I’ll try and create a new drawing after work today and post it on this thread for you…and any other LJ’s that would like to join in lol ;)

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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