Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mission Desk - Veneering Panels and Desk Top

I had done small veneering projects previously, but nothing on this scale.  But, I enjoy challenges, and this was definitely going to be a big one.  I chose to use book matched pieces of mesquite veneer for the side panels, and create three reverse diamond veneer patterns for the desk top.  After taking a few photos of the veneer, I used my imaging software to create a pattern that was appealing to me as seen below.

Reverse Diamond Pattern with Mesquite
The first task was to create the side panels since these were much simpler than the desk top.  Cutting and book matching the veneer was fairly easy with my Veneer Cutting Board.

Flitch of mesquite veneer
The panels are 3/8" plywood that were vacuum veneered with mesquite on the outside, and hickory on the interior surface.  Hickory was chosen because it has the same characteristics as mesquite, and it was relatively inexpensive.  Additionally, the secondary wood that I choose to use for the drawers was pecan.

After veneering the side panels, I sanded and put a coat of linseed oil and shellac on both sides of the panels.  Next, I completely assembled the base of the desk including the drawers.

The following photos show the process of creating the three panels that would ultimately become the desktop.  I began by cutting the three reverse diamond patterns for each of the panels.

Smaller panel section pattern
Closer view of smaller panel section
Trimming and sanding edge of smaller panel section pattern
using Veneer Cutting Board
Pommele Sapele borders book matched and taped
Taping and mitering a black edging around the mesquite smaller panel

Completed smaller panel section with
Pommele Sapele border
All three sections completed and ready for vacuum veneering
The part I don't enjoy - gluing
Vacuum pressing the largest panel
Veneered panels waiting to be trimmed
Trimming the edges with a router
I trimmed the corners with a chisel to prevent damage.  I also
used veneer tape along the edge to prevent tear out.
I framed each panel with a piece of black veneer
around the entire edge
Another photo of  adding black veneer along the edges.  The
edge closest to the camera has already had the edge applied.

The three panels ready for final step.  Notice the backside of closest panel has
strips applied to provide a standoff from tabletop while adding
black veneer on edges, as well as the final assembly.
Following the completion of the veneered panels I was ready to assemble all three as one large desktop.  Using biscuits I glued the three panels together with mesquite stiles between each panel and at each end.  This method probably isn't the best technique to assembling a desktop, but it worked exceptionally well.  I used the combination of my table saw and its out feed table which are very flat as a surface for gluing.  This helped keep the pieces flat, and the addition of the strips temporarily glued to the back of each panel (as seen above) referenced each panel to the flat surface.  Each of the stiles were milled with approximately 1/16" thicker than the final thickness of the panels.  This would leave 1/32" of excess stile and rails on each long as I cut the biscuit hole exactly right.  It was difficult to be that exact, and there was only one area that required some repair.
The three panels are glued together with mesquite stiles between each.
The top and bottom rails are added.
Different view of glue up.
Unfinished desk top

Finished desk top
Center section of desk top
Smaller section of desk top
I admit that I probably didn't use the easiest techniques to complete this project, however, I'm satisfied with the results.

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