Veneering the Easy Way

This is an easy way to veneer a surface without the expensive equipment typically used for such tasks.  While I wouldn’t recommend this as a way to veneer a large surface or surfaces with curves, it is a fast way to cover a small surface with a very decorative veneer.

The first step is to have a thin veneer chosen for your project.  I purchase my veneer from as they have a wide selection of quality veneer, supplies (it’s in their name), and a lot of information on veneering.  The veneer is very thin measuring around 1/42″ thick.  This is key to this process.  Thicker shop sawn veneer will probably not work in this instance because of the thicker material.

With the veneer chosen it is time to pick a substrate.  I like to use a stable plywood such as apple ply (made in the U.S. of A.) or baltic birch.  Some people prefer MDF and even particle board as they are typically much more stable and free of voids.  The project you have in mind to make and the final destination should be the key factors in choosing your substrate.  If you are in a humid environment I would suggest plywood over MDF.

With your substrate and veneer chosen it is time to begin.  Cut your veneer and substrate slightly oversized (with the veneer larger than the substrate) to allow for final trimming to dimension.

Now spray the show face of the veneer with water to add some moisture.  Not too much, just enough to cover the surface.  You will notice how the veneer starts to curl.  This is normal so don’t be worried.  Then flip it over and roll on some wood glue.  I used TiteBond 1 wood glue but TiteBond 2 would work as well.  Keep in mind that TiteBond 2 and 3 wood glues dry darker than TiteBond 1.  Then roll the glue to a thin even layer on the surface of the veneer.  The glue will add moisture to this face of the veneer and level it out.  That is why you sprayed the show face with water first, to balance it out.

Now set the veneer aside and roll glue onto the surface of the substrate in the same manner.  Once that is finished set it aside and let both surfaces dry until they are no longer sticky from wet glue.  Don’t freak out, you haven’t ruined your material.

Once the glue is dry, place the two glue surfaces together and arrange the veneer so it overhangs the substrate on all sides.  With an iron on the medium heat setting place it in the middle of the veneer and work it out to the edges and toward one end at a time.  Keep the iron moving as not to burn the veneer.  If you didn’t let the glue dry long enough you may see some steam and that can cause the veneer to ripple.  If that happens, just take a sanding block with a hard flat surface and rub the veneer down to the surface.  The glue will be reactivated and it will bond again.  It doesn’t hurt to rub the surface with the sanding block after ironing while it is still warm anyhow.

Now repeat that process to the other side of the substrate to balance it out.  If you don’t the substrate will warp as you are stacking veneer in favor of one face.  When you are finished you should have two nice looking faces of your substrate ready for your next project.

Tools I used in this project (Affiliate Links):
Ink Brayer (glue roller) –
Iron –
TiteBond Wood Glue –
TiteBond II Wood Glue –
Sanding Block:



Turning a Hollow Form and Vase

My father bought a few burls while on a trip to Oregon and brought them to my shop about 2 months ago.  One of the burls was an odd “L” shaped piece of madrone.  I cut the ends off to get a rectangular block leaving 2 burl caps to play with.  Once I made the first slice at the bandsaw I noticed there were worm tracks throughout the block.  Initially I was disappointed and apprehensive as I didn’t want a potential outbreak of bugs eating my lumber stash so moved the burls outside to monitor the worm activity.

A c0uple weeks later, I took the small burl caps and decided to turn one into a small 5″ vase and the other into a small spherical hollow form.  I mounted a blank to a waste block in the chuck with hot melt glue and pressed it into place with the tail stock.  Once the glue was cool and set I began the initial shaping of the outside form.  The video shows my process for shaping the outside.


When I reached the desired shape of the form, I sanded through the grits starting with 150 grit and finishing with 600.  Then I drilled a hole in the center to establish the depth of the form.  I drew an image, seen below, though not the actual shape of the form I made, that shows the series of cuts to hollow the small vessel.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.35.53 AM

I start the cuts at the center of the edge of the drilled hole and pull the scraper/gouge toward the outside making single smooth cuts.  As the form is hollowed further I switch to the bent hollowing tool and make push cuts in and toward the center.  Hollowing is much different than bowl turning as you can’t typically see what you are doing and all the cuts are done by feel.  Surprisingly, you can tell if there are ridges and bumps as the scraper will have some resistance as you level them out.  The final cut should be made with a scraper from the opening to the bottom of the form.

The vase was similar only more simply made.

To finish the pieces I used a wipe on Danish Oil.  The first coat was allowed to dry then sanded off completely and reapplied.  This helps to fill the grain for a very smooth surface.  Each subsequent coat was sanded with 600 grit and reapplied for a total of 5 coats.  After the final coat had cured, I buffed the surface with a 5,000 grit automotive sanding pad to achieve a satin shine.



Though I am not finished working on these pieces one could call them done.  I am going to further this project by preparing the insides for metal leaf, either copper or dutch metal (imitation gold).  But that is a topic for another day.

Creating a Unique Patina Finish: Making of A River Runs Through It

In the video below I outline the method that David Marks teaches in his Chemical Patina classes.  You can find a more detailed written article with a simple web search on Fine Woodworking Magazine’s website.  David Marks published an article several years ago in an issue going into a great amount of detail not only on how to create these finishes but also which chemicals color which metals in a specific way.

The video here is a brief outline of that process.  Also, below is a list of items I used to make these art pieces:

Silver Leaf

Dutch Metal Leaf

Copper Leaf

Gold Leaf

Gilder’s Size

Gilder’s Brush

A River Runs Through It                  Silver leaf and dutch metal with a chemical patina finish. 13″ x 17″

Enjoy the show!

Welded Bookshelves with Reclaimed Wood Shelves and Drawers

This pair of shelves was commissioned by a client of mine as a gift for his wife. I was given a photo and that’s all I had to work off. So the first thing I did was open SketchUp and began designing.
I wanted to keep the material cost low so I started sourcing used bed frames and reclaimed lumber. The bed frames took a lot of preparation to remove legs, rivets, and caps, not to mention grinding off paint to prepare for welding. Once I needed more bed frames I calculated the cost of frames vs the cost of same size angle iron and the angle iron was a little cheaper not to mention more robust.
The wood was collected locally at an abandoned fallen building that has been around for at least 12 years or more. Nails were plentiful and the surfaces needed a good scrubbing.
When all the metal parts were cut to size it was time to weld the frames. I started with the shelves’ top and bottom frames to get the sizes equal. Then I welded the side assemblies to connect to the top and bottom frames. The whole shelf unit was strengthened and squared with rear cross straps. When all the construction was complete I welded on bolt heads as industrial accents and sprayed a patina solution of acid, copper, and water. This gave the steel a nice initial color before the natural weathering took place.
The bottom units were made in the same fashion less the cross straps.
When all the metal work was finished I began the work on the shelves and drawers. I started with the 12 shelves for the upper cabinets and the 6 shelves for the lowers unit. I milled the reclaimed boards into strips to edge band the maple plywood to add decoration and strength from sagging, though sagging may still happen (can’t fight gravity).
Once all the shelves were complete, I applied a home made stain, called Iron Acetate. It consists of apple cider vinegar and fine steel wool. The vinegar dissolves the steel wool giving the solution an old grey look. When applied to a wood surface it begins to activate with the natural tannin in the wood and the stained surface darkens over time. Since maple doesn’t have much tannin I had to introduce tannin to the wood. I did that by making strong black tea and wiping it onto the surface. Once dry, the Iron Acetate was brushed on, allowed to dry, sanded with 220 grit, and a water borne finish was sprayed on.
The 8 drawers were made using pinned rabbet joints and the drawer fronts were fit to the openings then attached to the drawer boxes. These were then spray finished in the same manner as the shelves.
Then the whole assembly was put together to see how it looked.

Here is a 3 video Playlist showing the process of the build in slightly greater detail.

Make a Glass Insulator Wall Sconce

I was walking through a salvage/antique yard recently and came across a lot of old glass insulators.  Most of them were clear and a few were green, some were even porcelain of various shapes and sizes depending on their former purpose.  I picked up a pair of matching green insulators and had the idea to make them into wall sconces using black iron pipe from the local home center.

To make these you will need the following items: Insulators, 1/2″ floor flanges, 1/2″ nipple about 2″ long, 1/2″ Tee, 1/2″ square plug, 1/2″ to 1/4″ reducer, a 1/4 IP lamp pipe kit, assorted 1/4 IP nuts, lamp cord (with or without an on/off switch), rubber washers, plumbers putty, a 1/2″ glass hole saw, candelabra bulb bases, candelabra bulbs (night light bulbs work great), epoxy, electrical tape, a block of wood for the backing (if so desired), some screws, and a electric drill with a phillips bit and 1/8″ drill bit (or appropriate size for the screws you are using).

Here is a video on how I made mine.

Greene and Greene Mirror Frame


I am starting a project for my sister-in-law’s husband for our Christmas in July party. I am his Secret Santa this year. I have been wanting to make a Greene & Greene style mirror frame for a while and since the aforementioned individual is a fan of Japanese culture I decided it was a perfect time to start. Also this way I can work out any bugs for future builds.  

So it is my intent to document as often as I remember and post photos here in this series. I’ll start now and catch up on my progress from the last several weeks of preparation.

I started this build on a large sheet of poster paper with a French Curve and straight edge. I did use a photo from the web to get ideas and the basic guide from Marc Spagnuolo’s The Wood Whisperer Guild build.  When I finally got the design I liked I then made 1/2 of a paper template and traced it out on some 1/4″ MDF and then jigsawed it out and shaped/sanded to the lines. Then I used the half template to make a full template that would be symmetric about the center line. This was done with the top and side piece since the frame will have top and bottom and left and right symmetry.

Next I traced that template to a 3/4″ piece of MDF slightly longer than the actual template and roughly jigsawed it out leaving about 1/8″ material to the line.  I did this for both templates. Since the top and bottom of the “rails” are asymmetrical, I made the this template double sided. Next I routed two slots that will hold a T-bolt and knob with a piece of MDF as a backer for the actual work piece.

The next step is to add two toggle clamps to each template and finish routing the template to the router template guide.

Stay tuned.