Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just the Top - A Start to the Olive Ash Burl Table

 I thought I would get started with a recent project I completed this September. I had a pack of olive ash burl veneer that I bought from Ebay several years ago and thought it was time to use it on something. As you can see from the picture,  it curves in the middle just the way it was cut from the tree.  I thought I would incorporate that into the design and also get a chance to play with curves at the same time. The picture is not the actual veneer I used on the project but a sister to the book matched set. I'm using this picture to show how the veneer looked  somewhat in the rough state.
I made a full scale drawing of what I wanted the top to look like.  Since I don't use Sketchup, I tend to do this. 

I made two versions of the quarter drawing in tracing paper. One was for the outside perimeter of the table and one was for the innermost veneer which has its line was about 2" in from the outside. I then transferred them to 1/4" plywood for a pattern to cut the veneer and also, the 3/4" MDF I used for the substrate.
 I started first by book matching the olive ash burl,taping it,and  cutting the innermost veneer to shape.You can cut this with an exacto knife or clamp it between two identical patterns and then rout it with a flush cutting bit. I chose the knife.  I then cut 1/4"strips of black dyed maple which I used to band the olive ash veneer. Next I cut  a bunch of 3-1/2" strips of mahogany veneer with the grain running in the short direction. After I cut and laid out enough for the perimeter,  I cut 1" off the ends to use as a waterfall edge, marking them and keeping very careful track of  where the pieces will go after  the top was glued down. Now it was just a matter of taping the border to the banding, carefully cutting the border off to match the banding with an exacto knife and re-tapeing  it all together. I did have to cut a small angle in some of the border pieces to get them to follow the concave direction of the top.The last thing before glue up was cutting and taping up a piece of cherry veneer for the backside of the top.

As for the glue-up, this was my first time doing a table this shape.  Of course, there could be an easier way that I didn't think of.   I left the veneer long and glued it up square using Unibond 800. 8 hours in a vacuum press and it was done.  I used the quarter pattern (actually a little more than 1/4 to allow for the router run off) to mark out the top. It was then cut on the band saw leaving a little outside the line. A used double stick tape on the pattern placing it in the middle.  Then used a flush router to cut it out.

Finally I glued the 1'' pieces that were put aside to make the waterfall edge. I carefully matched the mating pieces using PVA glue and taped them  to the edge. Yes,  I said tape.  If you never have done this before it might seem crazy but it works great. After they were all on, I trimmed them back flush and sanded the top and bottom flush. When I was working on the top I never thought to take any pictures of the process but here is one of the top after several hours of french polishing.

Watch for the next post to see how I did the base.

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