We had a client contact us about designing and building a maple table. It would be similar to one he saw in an Apple store being used as a display table. But he wanted to use the same design and turn it into a desk. Last week I discussed the basic design, cutting and assembly.

Now we are going to look at how we finished the box joint and veneered the torsion boxes.

In the picture below, we are looking at one of the legs of the table. Once the glue on the Maple end caps had dried, we used a flush trim bit and our router to trim away the excess Maple overhang.

It was then time to spray on two coats of lacquer to every surface that would be receiving veneer. We would be using a peel-and-stick (PSA) backed veneer, just like in one of our previous projects, which only adheres to a sealed surface. So, we taped off all of the glue joints and sprayed on two even coats of lacquer, giving the first coat a light sand before spraying on the second coat.

We began the veneering process by cutting each individual piece from two 4×8 sheets of flat-sawn Maple veneer. Every piece was cut roughly 3/8″ oversized, giving us just a bit of breathing room. To apply the veneer we first cut the protective backing into 3-4 pieces that could be removed individually, rather than trying to remove the entire backing all at the same time. The veneer was then set onto of the surface, adjusted to ensure the overhang was even on all edges, and clamped in place. We then removed one of the backing strips and smoothed out the veneer using our veneer hammer. The clamps were then removed and the rest of the backing strips were removed and the entire piece of veneer was pressed into place.

Even though the veneer was attached to the surface, the application process was not entirely complete. We used the veneer hammer and, applying as much pressure as possible, pulled from one end to the other to smooth out and permanently adhere the veneer’s backing to the lacquered surface. This process builds up heat due to the friction, and ensures a permanent bond between the two pieces.

The veneer was then placed face down on a clean, flat, and smooth surface and the excess veneer was trimmed away using a sharp razor knife.

The pieces of veneer were all applied in a very methodical manner. The undersides are always applied first, followed by the edges, and finishing with the top. This is to ensure that the seams overlap each other in the best possible manner.

The only thing we had left to accomplish before spraying on a coat of sanding sealer was to sand every surface by hand using a block of wood and some 220 grit sandpaper. Some woodworkers may use a random orbital sander on veneer, but with as thin as veneer is, we prefer to play it safe, and spend a bit more time sanding by hand.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.