Tricks of the Trade – Perfect Veneer Seams


Tricks of the Trade – Perfect Veneer Seams:
No guillotine? No problem. Ramon Valdez uses a dedicated crosscut jig to trim square edges ready for assembly straight off the saw.

No guillotine? No problem. Ramon Valdez uses a dedicated crosscut jig to trim square edges ready for assembly straight off the saw

I love veneer, the possibilities in furniture making abound when it is used. Cutting perfect seams is essential for making a quality product and this sled makes it easy, repeatable and accurate. It works similar to a crosscut sled with one obvious difference – it rides and is guided by a straightedge. You could use one made of aluminium, phenolic or whatever you have, but it must be straight and true. I have my tablesaw fence exactly parallel to the blade, so it was easy to set up. By placing my straightedge along the fence, I created a position to allow me to accurately line things up. I used a machine screw threaded into the cast table as an anchor point to enable consistent setups in the future.

The sled consists of the main platform and two runners. I used plastic (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene – UHMW) or you could use phenolic or even quartersawn wood. The shorter straightedge that’s clamped in place is just to offer support. Also note the sandpaper applied on top for better gription. I used a dull blade to cut through the sandpaper just for the first few cuts. After that I like using a rip blade (Alternate Top Bevel – ATB) to make my cuts. In use, the blade should just barely be above the veneer or veneers that you’re cutting. I always use a fresh sacrificial board (particle board shown here) to keep the veneers in place, reduce flutter and provide a zero clearance cut. The use of toggle clamps to secure the sacrificial board and veneer pack results in a hands-free operation.

1. Fix a suitable straightedge in place with a machine screw directly into the saw table-top

2. Use UHMW strips to guide the sled between the rails

3. Ensure you have sufficient length in the sled to accommodate a wide range of veneers

4. Use a stop at the far end of the rails to limit the sled’s travel and prevent the blade from becoming exposed

Check your set-up
In the US and other parts of the world there is a different approach to using a tablesaw than in the UK and other parts of Europe, so to some readers this jig may seem a little unconventional. It will not allow the saw to be operated with a crown guard that’s attached to a riving knife. However, larger machines built for commercial ‘shops typically have this safety feature suspended from an overhead beam allowing sleds to be used safely. The production ‘shop where I use this sled has precisely that set-up. The dangers associated with tablesaws extend beyond those related to the blade and include the extraction of fine dust particles. We use a lot of sheet material and consider the crown guard to be an extension of our dust management system.

5. Move your fence so it does not interfere with the path of the veneer when cross cutting

6. Use a fresh piece of sacrificial board for each cut

7. Apply tension to the tape from alternate leaves

8. Adjust the height of the blade to accommodate a thicker stack of veneer

9. Roll the tape to ensure good contact

10. Perfect seamless joints straight off the saw

I love this method and straight off the saw (no shooting with a hand plane necessary), I can easily produce perfect seams that disappear when glued together. I simply edge glue, then pull the joint together with blue tape. Alternate the tape location from front side to the back side to prevent the veneers from buckling. To keep the thin veneers lined up while gluing, it’s vital to use a small roller to apply adequate pressure. Keep applying tape where needed to create a perfect veneer seam.


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