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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Default Ebony Macassar Box - Work in Progress


    Recently I saw a Victorian-era ladies travelling box, veneered with Coromandel. The richness and glow of the timber was almost luminous.

    Coromandel was reported as being logged out by around 1900; however, Macassar Ebony is very similar and knowing I had a few (very few) pieces of this veneer I decided to make a small box:


    C48BD1A2-BDA1-428E-AB8A-3DD94ADE6EC0.jpeg


    Not enough to do the whole box, but I could stretch it if I put my one and only piece of Zircote veneer on the back -
    close enough a match to get away with it I hope!

    55D9032E-BDC9-4B79-8D68-39365A2ED091.jpeg

    The available veneer means the box is around 260mm wide by 170mm from front to back and 75mm tall. Given the limited material a four-corner match was not going to be possible, but then this is only a prototype for something larger I plan to make later in the year.

    Top Panel
    I started with the top panel, veneering both sides of a 6mm ply panel. The inside of the lid will be lined, so the balancing veneer is nothing special. For anyone new to veneering thin panels, it is important to veneer both sides - if you donít the panel will curl like a banana!
    Two strips of the Ebony Macassar were bookmatched to form the outside top panel (shown here under waxed paper)

    :
    8E2ADD13-BFB7-41B9-AB12-DC2DF5B2EC45.jpeg

    and glued with Titebond 2. A Ďsandwichí was made of (from the bottom up) 25mm MDF, cork tile to ensure the pressure is spread evenly, waxed paper to stop the glue sticking to the cork, then the veneered piece, more waxed paper, cork and MDF. Off into the book press for a couple of hours (maybe a bit longer in this cold weather):


    DCF419A8-554C-474B-814D-7439407B158F.jpeg


    The end result:


    026BFB8F-F1E6-4FAC-88D5-270F257CA8F9.jpeg


    To give it a little protection I put a couple of coats of Neilís Hard Shellac on the panel. It also gives a good indication of what the box may look like at the end (I hope!)

    BBD4F372-662B-436F-AF52-5878D0931F92.jpeg

    Happy with that so far. More soon - the carcass will be next....


    Brian

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Coffs Harbour
    Posts
    834

    Default

    Great work there Brian, You certainly are the Master of Veneering. The final result should be amazing.

    Paul

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Murray Bridge SA
    Age
    67
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    3,265

    Default

    Very beautiful veneering. I had a piece of it given to me by a Luthier friend, it was part of a pallet!!!! I turned it into Pen Blanks, as it had quite a few nail holes in it.
    Kryn
    To grow old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    556

    Default

    Thanks, Paul! I do like using veneer sometimes even though it is more time consuming. Things like Ebony Macassar, Zircote and various burrs would be difficult to find in full timber thicknesses, or very expensive, or, in the case of burr, less structurally stable.

    I have another fully-veneered box on the go which I’ll do a work in progress report for once this one’s finished. Here’s a teaser (grin):

    C7569475-4A9D-4AB6-9118-118FE12FC83B.jpeg

    Best regards,

    Brian

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    556

    Default

    Kryn - part of a pallet!!!

    I bet the pens were stunners!

    Brian

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Coffs Harbour
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    834

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    Hi Brian, To make a nice box it has to be time consuming. You cant knock up a beautiful box in "five minutes". I've never got into veneering. A few years ago an old chap gave me a bundle of veneers that he said he had for ages and is now too old to use them. I just shoved them all under my bench, I don't even know what most of them are, all about 1mm thick.

    Paul

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    1,258

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by homey View Post
    Thanks, Paul! I do like using veneer sometimes even though it is more time consuming. Things like Ebony Macassar, Zircote and various burrs would be difficult to find in full timber thicknesses, or very expensive, or, in the case of burr, less structurally stable.

    I have another fully-veneered box on the go which I’ll do a work in progress report for once this one’s finished. Here’s a teaser (grin):

    C7569475-4A9D-4AB6-9118-118FE12FC83B.jpeg

    Best regards,

    Brian
    Can’t wait for this one!! It looks fantastic so far.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
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    556

    Default

    Right - on we go!

    The Carcass

    Like the original box I saw the carcass is Walnut. I imagine the original was European Walnut but this is American. If my box was taller Iíd have gone with a ply construction, but since the maximum height of one piece of the veneer is around 53mm and the box walls are 12mm I doubt the veneer will pull the box out of shape. Many old boxes were made this way and have lasted several hundred years.


    Since the box is being veneered there is no need for dovetails. Iím using rebate joints, which are more than strong enough. First I cut away the bulk of the waste with the bandsaw:

    B648B2F6-3560-4EDD-ACDD-63850DD1170B.jpeg


    This leaves only a small amount to be cleaned up at the router table:

    9F33875C-9CDC-4F6F-8C38-7C7F971E59B7.jpeg


    I have a fancy Woodpeckers coping sled but mostly use this home-made one.


    A9841173-7ABA-415F-A5F7-FEC678E86619.jpeg


    Very simple and leaves the rebates clean and ready to go. Hmm - Iíve cut these rebates a bit too long - will fix that later.

    3F558E44-1798-430D-9896-734CAEF0BA02.jpeg

    A quick loose fit into my box glue-up jig just to make sure all will be square when the time comes:


    C2687DFD-EAFD-4D35-88E9-A1BA0A16208F.jpeg


    The bottom is next. This oneís already done - I make up a supply of ply bases from time to time, veneered both sides - all I need to do is cut to size on the table saw.

    Next job is to cut a groove 5mm wide 3mm from the bottom edge of the sides ( the base is 4mm ply plus 2x0.6mm veneers). This was done on the table saw making two cuts to get the correct width.


    08708921-6797-4C02-9C43-2348A2053DBB.jpeg


    A quick check to make sure the base fits. I LOVE these big rubber bands from Officeworks.


    DD62FF2B-9B73-462A-AF6E-7611F13968EC.jpeg


    On to the router table to create a rebate around the top edge to take the top panel. I usually put the panel into a groove but because the box is to be fully veneered the top surface needs to be exposed closer to the edge of the box than it would in a groove. This will mean there is no gap around the top panel once the edge banding is applied (more later).

    94F38E68-C199-4894-9B8A-8E2549DBA644.jpeg



    The rebates and grooves are now all cut ready for glue-up:


    D9BCA570-6A60-4F85-8DC5-858683D65449.jpeg


    The top and bottom will fit like this:

    7C44B8DA-35FE-4595-84FB-EA3751811DCD.jpeg


    OK, the carcass and base are ready for glue-up. The glue-up jig and the parallel clamps ensure the box is square - but I check it anyway, of course!

    A3E14072-1A0B-4815-9B79-04B0C78657DC.jpeg


    Tomorrow will be a bit of a tidy up of the joints then on to the exciting bit - veneering the walls.


    Regards,


    Brian

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Leopold, Victoria
    Age
    61
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    3,313

    Default

    Thanks for taking us along this journey Brian. I for one certainly appreciate seeing how things should be done correctly and the jigs you have made to ensure the outcome is right.
    Really like the book press earlier on in this thread. Did you have to pay through the nose for it like most you see advertised or were you lucky?
    Cheers,
    Dallas

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
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    556

    Default

    Thanks, Dallas.

    Credit for most of my jigs goes to Andrew Crawford. They have been designed along the lines of those in his books or ones Iíve been shown on visits to his wonderful workshop in Shropshire.

    The book press was one I found on eBay. They seem to come up quite often (also on Gumtree) - everything from rust buckets to finely restored ones. I think it cost me around $250, but then I imagine Iíll get that back if ever I want to sell it. There is one on eBay right now for $200 buy-it-now price, but too far away from you (Fraser Island).

    Or you could make your own using press clamps such as these: McJING Tools Online

    Or, if youíre willing to import:

    Shop Fox D3221 Super Press Clamp 769433432214 | eBay

    Iím hoping to go to the Wood show tomorrow to look at the SuperMax drum sander and perhaps buy a shoulder plane. A shame that Carbatec, Timbecon, Lie-Nielsen etc wonít be there, though.

    Brian

    Edit: WHOOPEE! Iíve just noticed this is my 500th post and Iím now a Golden Member. That would HAVE to mean Iím allowed to spend a bit more tomorrow, wouldnít it?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
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    Default

    Completing the Carcass

    OK, the carcass is glued up. Just a few more things before veneering.

    First thing is to take care of those rebate joints that were cut over-long. I usually allow about 1mm extra (better long than short) but somehow I cut these ones about 3mm long. No problem. The edge where the overlap occurs is taped with light-stick green tape and the extra length cut off with a Japanese saw with a very thin kerf. The tape makes sure the saw is kept away from the box side itself:

    31082BD3-CFD2-4BC6-9814-5CEAA3FE4CE4.jpeg



    The tape is removed and the box sides sanded level and square on the belt sander. No, I donít do this one-handed, but the camera was in the other! The bottom edges of the box look a bit rough right now, but this will all be smoothed out on the sanding board a bit later:


    422C817F-8BF5-4B6B-82F5-86693E5F0AFE.jpeg


    Next up is to fit the top panel into itís rebate. This pic shows the rebate. Donít be confused by the ebony macassar in the bottom of the box. Thatís just veneer pieces waiting to be used. The actual top panel is hiding just over to the right of the picture:

    0F522C66-0D0D-461B-B53E-4C41E1C96B24.jpeg


    I mark the panel directly to the box rather than measuring. A few cuts on the table saw and the top drops into the rebate neatly leaving a 3mm solid edge all round:


    00000C35-A65E-4BCE-B81C-80F8A6462349.jpeg

    Now to glue the top panel in place. The panel sits about 0.5mm below the edges so the sides can be brought down level afterwards, making routing for the edge banding easier. However, to glue the panel below the box edge I need to make a caul to ensure clamping pressure is applied where it is needed - around the edges but inside the Ďlipí. I used waxed paper to protect the top surface then made a crude Ďpicture frameí caul from scrap.

    AD26CE5A-1821-4EC4-8131-25AC757BD15D.jpg


    The box was then put between two cork-faced clamping cauls and clamped for a couple of hours.


    E617E9AE-212B-4B2A-9644-A75E4647E822.jpeg


    Out of the clamps the lid is now fixed in place.


    721F36A1-2D1A-45A8-B992-71AE696A1121.jpeg


    This rather blurry pic shows the box edge sitting just proud of the top panel. This edge was levelled to the top using a low angle block plane and a card scraper.

    E97D7CF5-B54E-4B92-97FF-FBB18A13DE5E.jpeg


    All the scary bits come next - cutting the lid off, veneering and fitting hinges - but those are for another day. Right now Iím off to work out what I want at the Timber show tomorrow


    Regards,

    Brian

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Westleigh, Sydney
    Age
    73
    Posts
    8,801

    Default

    Enjoying seeing how you do things, and appreciating that nice box.
    Agree with you re Andrew Crawford's workshop & books. I visited him last year, and found him to be a most generous and helpful host. His book was what got me into box making.
    Visit my website
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  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    556

    Default

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks! I’m hoping to visit Andrew’s extended workshop early next year and also to visit Little Halstock if they are willing. Capital Crispin Veneers is also on the list although I’ve got enough veneer to last me three lifetimes (grin).

    Regards,

    Brian

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Leopold, Victoria
    Age
    61
    Posts
    3,313

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    I will keep an eye out for someone drooling over a Supermax when I get there tomorrow. Pity a lot of us don't know what each other looks like otherwise we could have a big get together.
    I am looking forward to enjoying my day.
    By the way, thanks for the great WIP and links to various pressing systems, learning heaps.
    Cheers,
    Dallas

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Melbourne
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    Default

    The Veneering Begins

    Time to cut the lid from the body before veneering the sides. Why not veneer the sides first then cut? By cutting the lid off first there will be no loss of 2-3mm in the pattern of the veneer where lid and base meet. Whether that matters depends very much on the species of veneer being used. A bold burr will show up the missing pattern, but something like European Beech may not show at all.


    Sometimes I separate lids on the bandsaw, but this time it was at the table saw - a Festool Precisio CS50 fitted with a 2.4mm kerf blade. I aim for a cut just short of the full width so the top remains in place - just. Iím looking for about 0.3mm to be left to prevent the box closing on the blade in the final cut.

    As an extra precaution I have some small spacers that slot into the cuts as the are made. These are held in place by rubber bands (not shown). The width of the spacers is exactly the width of my saw blade.

    159BEB03-3529-4895-AA3E-12714F2172A0.jpeg


    Once the cuts were made all round the final separation was done with a sharp scalpel.

    02F0ACE3-0D2D-40D4-B339-DA76DBCDCF21.jpeg


    After a little cleanup on the sanding board the top and base come together quite well.

    F8642F71-846F-4940-A54D-4D8AB115F79C.jpeg


    OK, on to the veneering. Ebony Macassar is hard, brittle and splits easily so sharp tools and some patience are helpful. Most cuts were multiple light passes from the outside edge towards the middle to avoid splitting. I use a Swann Morton scalpel with my favourite cutting ruler. The ruler has a flip-up finger protector which has saved my fingertips many times. Brilliant!

    8280B3A5-D94F-41C9-A4F9-7139221DDD98.jpeg

    The amount of work in veneering makes construction a longer, exacting and often more expensive process, especially if using veneers of scarce timbers. On the other hand you can create effects that would be difficult in solid timber. I like both approaches.

    The veneer pieces are cut to size and glued on. The sides are done first so that the front veneers hide the edges of the side pieces. For this reason it isnít practical to glue up more than two sides at a time.

    5D4A572A-374B-480F-AD8B-CF1E888EADFC.jpeg


    A fair bit of pressure is applied through clamping using wooden cauls and cork. This ensures the veneers stay flat and really stick

    27D78BA9-499C-459C-B2D0-CF952FDC8FC8.jpeg

    60A4BF32-3354-4C1C-9C00-3850014163AA.jpeg


    I mask up the area with light-stick green tape before gluing. Takes time but save a lot more time cleaning up afterwards, and there is not much room for error when using veneers that are usually just 0.6mm thick:

    BBA31028-4E20-4D5F-85A3-2C4F7936FFE8.jpeg


    Once the glue is dry I plane the veneer level with the green tape (very carefully!), remove the tape and use a scraper to level out.


    44B33FB3-CFD6-455B-BDD9-8EE8C9327950.jpeg



    Once the main part of the box is complete I start veneering the sides of the lid. Why wait until now? So I can match the position of the side veneers on the lid to the position of their corresponding pieces on the lower sides:


    E94C7C11-7C36-45D9-86AA-DCB2CC3F0250.jpeg


    While waiting for the glue to dry I gave the base of the box a quick coat of hard shellac.


    060816BD-2A1F-470F-803A-56748AA69E57.jpeg



    Once the lid is dry and the veneer trimmed it will be time to add the stringing and do a bit of a tidy up - but thatís for later in the week. More soon.


    Regards,


    Brian

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