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Old 9th January 2008, 02:27 AM   #101
John L is offline John L  United States
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Day before yesterday I had taken the cabinets up topside and finished sanding them. I sat down to write up my experience to this, and spent almost an hour typing up what I thought to be an informative and funny post. Unfortunately, I had to backtrack a bit and look up some other information. When I returned, the post had 'timed out', and all of my post was suddenly gone. I was overwhelmed with frustration, so I decided to take a break and just relax a bit until I actually felt like going on. So, I'm ready to try to play catch-up, and I have a lot to catch up on.
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After I had trimmed the lengthy ends of the veneer in the basement to where the top and bottoms were close to the frame, I carried each one up as I needed them. I grabbed a retractable bladed knife and camera, and got ready to sand down the overhang to the first walls of each cabinet.

I might add that it was quite brisk outside, only a couple of degrees above freezing. while I was enjoying all this Anthropogenic Global Warming, I decided to get a hot cup of coffee, and then it was time to start the actual trimming process before sanding. 1/8 " overhand can be more than you want when sanding down a corner. It is best to get the overhang down to the smallest amount possible, short of cutting into the edge of the frame.

Click the image to open in full size.

I started out having a bit of trouble, using the retractable blade. The trouble was that the blade kept retracting into the frame, and the blade did not cut through the veneer effortlessly. But I was into the first cabinet, I was shivering and didn't want to stop because I would not want to restart if I spent too much time in the warmer house looking around for something better. So I sucked up and kept going.

On the last side, I ran into another problem. One of the spots along the edge had not been adhered properly, as you can see on this next shot.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is what the other side looked like with a rough trim. In that shot, it is ready to be ironed again in order to make the veneer permanent with the corner.

Click the image to open in full size.

Finally I got both sides trimmed and plugged in my belt sander. A word of caution about belt sanders. If you get carried away and press down too hard on the sander, or forget to keep it moving at all times, you will quickly ruin your veneer job, or any other job for that matter. Good belt sending is not for beginners.

I have two old Craftsman belt sanders, 3" x 21" belt, and have owned them since the 1970s. they are about 31-32 years old and look almost the same as new ones, except they have more aluminum on the body instead of plastic. If you are going to get one, make certain to turn it on and run it with a belt for a while to check it out. If the belt needs constant readjustment for it to stay on track evenly, look for another one of that model. Keep looking until you find one that is easy to accomodate you.

The one that will not cooperate is a female belt sander, and you do not want one in your shop, because it is 'high maintenance". Also, it can get hormonal on you at the drop of a hat. One of my sanders is female, and I almost never use it. The other one is male, and it has never given me a hard time all these years. The female one I loaned out to my crews when I was in construction management for obvious reasons.

Taking my trusty male sander I ran the belt along the edge, lightly so as not to over sand the veneer. It was very quick and a few quick passes, along with a little spot sanding and I was through with that side. Then I sanded the top and bottom even with the cabinet, and turned the cabinet around and did the same with that side as well.

Here it is sanded. If you will note, there is a little bit of veneer that is missing from a portion of the edge to the right. It looks worse than is it. The overlaping veneer should hide it completely. If not, I will fill in with sawdust and shellac.

Click the image to open in full size.

After bringing up the second cabinet I looked at that retractable knife and finally decided that it was not giving me the proper support I needed.

Click the image to open in full size.

So I went back downstairs and started going through my tool cabinets and drawers for a better substitute. And finally I found what I was really looking for. It was a single sided razor blade cutter, with extra blades. Eureka!

With it in hand, I Practiced a bit and came up with a nice hand stance to use, in order to make quick work of the excess trim. My friend Michael was working down in my shop on one of his drapery orders for a client. Since he was there I dragged him up and had him hold the knife while I took a shot of how I used the blade.

Click the image to open in full size.

Mike is not as good at things mechanical as I am, so I had to coach him on how to hold the knife, but he finally got reasonably close. Then I took over again and made a long single slice, and had him pretend to be me one more time before he started complaining about freezing out there, and wanting to get back to work.

Click the image to open in full size.

One of the advantages of this, which you cannot see, is that the little finger is firmly grounded to the cabinet, offering support while the trimmer cuts the excess veneer. This allowed me to make a closer cut and do it quickly. with a little practice the supersharp blade makes mincemeat of the overhang.

But no matter how careful or experienced you are, you will not have everything work flawlessly, as the next picture shows.

Click the image to open in full size.

Because walnut is an open grained and brittle veneer, it easily cracks and this spot cracked without any effort. The screwdriver highlights the crack. In this case, I just reironed the material, and then added titebond glue to the wood. Then I finished it off by taking a wet rag and wiping the excess glue off the surface. After that, I had no further problem with it.

Here are the two walls finished and standing next to each other.

Click the image to open in full size.

After this initial veneering step, I must confess that there are some things I have definately learned about veneering a hexagon cabinet.

First and foremost, is not to seal the veneer first, before using heat bond and adhereing them to the walls. here is what I mean. The hot iron will melt the surface shellac on the veneer, and make it look absolutely horrible to see. In reality, it is not all that bad, because I took a clean rag, soaked in a little denatured alcohol , and gave one of the walls a quick rubdown to see if the white discoloration would disappear. It pretty much did. If you compare the two cabinets, the one on the right was the one I rubbed down. There is a slight difference so I am not worried about it being permanent. A good sanding will take care of the problem.

Secondly, using your iron on the sealed veneer will wind up giving your iron a generous amount of shellac stuck to the bottom of the iron. And with it there, even with a no-stick surface, it will not iron. Believe me, that is bad news. If you are using your wife's iron, you had better plan on NOT doing what I did, or you had better clean all that shellac off soonest, or you are in a world of hurt.

The least thing that could happen is that this will give her an excuse to go out, on your dime, and buy the most expensive iron out there. And I know all about irons, since I go through irons at least once a year in my business. That is why I don't even think about getting the High Dollar irons. none of them last the hard treatment a fabrication shop can give it. But this will not help you because she will be "Entitled" to a new iron, and you will be SOL. Oh, and she will never let you live it down either, if I know anything about women.

So get out the denatured alcohol and give the bottom of the iron a thorough cleaning, and about 45-60 minutes of effort. This will teach you a valuable lesson about experimentation and it's consequences. Mistakes, learned the hard way, will usually not be repeated if you are required to correct them. I know that I have learned mine here.

Thirdly, you do not need any fancy veneer trimmers to trim the edge of cabinets, expecially cabinets that are not at a 90 degree angle. All you need is a super sharp razor blade and good hand and eye coordination. The rest is just process and patience.

I'll continue on the next post.
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Old 9th January 2008, 04:21 AM   #102
John L is offline John L  United States
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Sunday night, I took stock of what I had learned from my first application of veneer to the walls of my two cabinets. My origonal intent was to use the wider heartwood veneer for the back of the cabinet, and use the ones with more sap wood for the front. That way more contrast would be acheived. So I had purposefully started out with the sheet to go on the back, and use it to be my "lessons learned" application. And I had indeed learned some valuable lessons I mention directly above.

With lessons learned, I lined up the front of each cabinet and applied a liberal coating of glue to it by using my roller. Then I set up the two top pieces of veneer to be used with my front wall. When I had what I considered to be the best side facing forward, and determined the 'up' from the 'down', I turned them over and applied a good coating of glue to each. As I completed the application of glue, I picked up an end, turned it around, and sprayed it nicely with water, so as to keep the veneer from curling too much. Then I laid them out as flat as possible and went to bed.

The next morning I got up and eventually made my way downstairs to inspect my upcoming project with the second veneer wall. I took one of the sheets and set it on top of the cabinet as you see here.

Click the image to open in full size.

Nothing out of the usual, so I got out the iron and fired her up. I have a female iron as well this time around. she leaks when she wants to, and can leave marks on $100 plus per yard fabric in a New York Minute. I've only had her in the house for about three months, so I hesitate to get a divorce from her so soon. But she is difficult to live with.

Once I had the veneer adhered, I put away the iron and gathered up the razor blade knife and bent down to make my cuts. Oh Lord!, I had the thing upside down, because now the grain was running outward, from left to right, instead of the way the first sheet went. Too late to correct any mistakes such as that. All of my sequential sheets having the most sapwood would have to be turned the exact same way, so I had to learn how to use the razor knife with the other hand. horrors!

However, before I had a chance to start trimming off the overhang, I notices another grain split on the surface of the veneer. This had happened to one of the sheets that were to be the rear wall. This gave me pause, but I knew that covering this sort of problem was straight forward. All I had to do was take sawdust from the sanding and fill in the crack with it, and then apply shellac into the buildup. Then when it dried and shrunk up, repeat the process and reshellac. The crack would be virtually undetectable.

Here is what I mean.

Click the image to open in full size.

And this crack was a little further down the piece of veneer.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is a shot of the two cabinets roughly trimmed and ready to climb the steps to the back deck for sanding.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is one little spot where I got too causual and cut off just a bit too much veneer overhang. Hopefully, It should be hidden by the overlapping veneer.

Click the image to open in full size.

And here are the two front walls veneered, trimmed, and sanded.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 9th January 2008, 04:35 AM   #103
John L is offline John L  United States
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One of the side effects of using a belt sander to sand material that has shellac, glue, or any other material that melts under heat, is that the belt quickly becomes gummed up and in terrible shape. Most people will throw it away in disgust and start counting up the money needed to purchase more replacement belts.

However, that is not necessary. My belt was already pretty gummed up when I started this project, but it got even worse, and after finishing this second wall, it was time to make a trade. But before putting on the new belt, I had to clean the old one first.

Here is what the belt looks like after I have applied some denatured alcohol to the belt so as to soften up the melted shellac and glue.

Click the image to open in full size.

In truth, I had already done a little bit of cleaning before I realized that I should be taking pictures of this for everyone to see. Knowing that you can rehabilitate your old belts will save you lots of money, so this is a good thing if you use a belt sander. So I just turned my trusty old male belt sander over on his back and used a wire brush on the belt.

But first I got out an old and small glass, that could hold the alcohol and not require a good deal of it. Then I dipped the brush in the glass and moved it to the belt and scrubbed the beJesus out of the belt. I did this about three times before moving the belt around by use of my hand. Having the sander plugged in is NOT a good idea. I learned the hard way about this at Plantation General in the late 70s when my crew went there and installed the casework elevations and nurses stations. But that's for another time.

Click the image to open in full size.

As you can see, those belts can really build up a lot of gunk on them. And they take a bit of elbow grease and alcohol to dislodge it all. The white paint I left on, because it doesn't bother anything and was just too much work to clean off. I can be just as lazy as the next guy at times such as these.

And here is what my Good Old Boy looks like with a cleaned belt.

Click the image to open in full size.

All I have to do is just remove it and allow it to dry out properly, and it is ready for another round of work.


And here is what another veneered wall looks like sanded. With a new belt, all I have to do is just set the sander on to the surface and watch it melt away the overhang.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now here is my next problem.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here are some more shots of the same piece.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

this had happened to about three or four sheets and I was really wondering what I was doing wrong. So I stopped what I was doing and with this in the back of my mind, I went into the living room and meditated on my Lazyboy. I took out my latest John Ringo novel and started reading about the Kildar and his gals going after the bad Islamo-Kooks. I always do this sort of thing when I have to contemplate a problem. Keep the problem in the back of my mine and relax on something else.

Most of the time it works, because there was some comment in the book about traveling from Georgia(the country) to the hot Bahamas. That was it!! Heat! I had my answer and all in the first couple of pages.

With that in mind, the next pair of veneers I ironed on to the cabinets, I turned the heat setting of the iron from 5(cotton) to 3(wool), and the problem went away. It was all about using too much heat on the veneer.

One more lesson learned the hard way. I will not forget it either.

Here's todays job. Not a crack to be seen, and the veneering is starting to really take shape.

Click the image to open in full size.

I did have one more cracked edge to worry about. this occured when I switched from belt sander to my random pheumatic orbital sander. Since the sanding disk rotates clockwise, when I sand from left to right, the leading edge moves downward in a clockwise motion, which is great. But the trailing edge is going upward, and it caught the overhand and tore it loose.

Click the image to open in full size.

I quickly fixed it by reapplying heat from the iron, and adding glue to the area. If you look very closely, you can just barely see the fix in the picture. This is before I applied glue and wiped off the excess.

Click the image to open in full size.

After this, I applied some glue over the chip and then used the wet clothe to clean away the surface glue. I looked later for the 'fix' and could not find it.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here are the cabinets set up for glueing tonight. I used painters tape to keep glue from getting on to the existing veneer. Tomorrow morning I will remove the tape and adhere the veneer to the wall.

Click the image to open in full size.

I have just two more walls to complete, and I should finish this stage tomorrow afternoon. After that I will start sanding the walls and collecting sawdust to put into the cracks where the grain has split apart. After that I will start sealing and roughly finishing them with more shellac. Then on to the two bases.

I am beginning to believe that I am almost over the hump here. I am finally starting to feel good about it already.
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Old 9th January 2008, 06:51 AM   #104
OzMikeH is offline OzMikeH  Australia
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A couple of tips John:

I compose my comments in a small notepad window as I read, then cut and paste them into the compose window.

For cheap, super sharp knives go to a big kitchen shop or a proper knife shop, Buy some Plastic handled Victorinox paring knives. they can be had for US$4 each.
They are sharp and strong enough to cut the handle off a wooden spoon easily. the blade shape is much better than stnley knives, like a long triangle not a short chamfer then a big flat lump of iron to support the edge.
These knives are used in commercial kitchens a lot, the handles arent that great and I;ve never tried sharpening one again, they usually get lost in veggie scraps before they go blunt.
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Old 9th January 2008, 12:41 PM   #105
John L is offline John L  United States
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Thanks for the info Mate. Keep in touch.
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Old 9th January 2008, 09:12 PM   #106
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Hi John,
I can't believe you are sanding veneer with a belt sander!

Here's the knife to get. Snap off segments for constant razor sharpness. Olfa is the brand.
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Old 9th January 2008, 09:40 PM   #107
John L is offline John L  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by MJL21193
Hi John,
I can't believe you are sanding veneer with a belt sander!

Here's the knife to get. Snap off segments for constant razor sharpness. Olfa is the brand.
I did not say that. You probably should go back and reread my post. I used the belt sander on those corners where the other adjoining wall did Not have my veneer adhered. On those joints where the two veneers came together I used an orbital sander that works on my air system. Now I did also use the belt sander on the tops and bottoms where it did not matter as well.

But I don't use a belt sander on the surface of veneers. I use both the random orbital pneumatic sander and then the electric palm hand sander. I may be very good with the belt sander, but I am not that adventurous.

Please give me just a little more credit here, ok?

And I will stick with the disposable razor blade knife. I can maneuver with it much better.
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Old 10th January 2008, 12:32 AM   #108
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Quote:
Originally posted by John L


Finally I got both sides trimmed and plugged in my belt sander. A word of caution about belt sanders. If you get carried away and press down too hard on the sander, or forget to keep it moving at all times, you will quickly ruin your veneer job, or any other job for that matter. Good belt sending is not for beginners.
Quote:
Originally posted by John L


I did not say that. You probably should go back and reread my post.
But I don't use a belt sander on the surface of veneers.
Please give me just a little more credit here, ok?

And I will stick with the disposable razor blade knife. I can maneuver with it much better.

Sorry for misunderstanding you, it's just what I gathered from what you wrote. I'm probably not the only one.

Suit yourself on the knife issue. The Olfa can't be beat.

I noticed your belt cleaning method. You don't have a crepe rubber cleaning stick?
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Old 10th January 2008, 12:56 AM   #109
John L is offline John L  United States
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I always use the 'heavy artillary' first and then use the small stuff to do mopping up. I sanded down on the raw unveneered ajacent side first, and then turned the cabinet around and finished the other side. If that side had two veneers joining, then I would break out the orbital sander, and proceed with caution.

With the first two applications of veneer(the front and rear ones) I used the belt sander on both sides to smooth the edges, because there was no adjourning veneers. And toward the end, I used only the orbital sander, because both sides had veneer adjourning.

I didn't get a chance to finish the last wall of each cabinet today, but will finish it off tomorrow. On them I will use only the orbital sander.

As for the cleaning stick, I used to have one, but misplaced it. It works nicely under normal circumstances, but on a buildup of glues and shellace, etc, it becomes an exercise in frustration. That is why I use a good wire bristle brush and alcohol, to dig in and root out the gunk. I'll admit that, when I finish, the belt's grit is not as sharp as new, but it is clean and works nicely that way. And I have actually cleaned a gunked up belt several times. I like to reuse my belts if possible.

I'm really looking forward to getting things done up to the dispersion horn for the top. I will be on the home stretch then.

I should have kept an accurate record of the hours spent on the project. It has been stretched out, but probably does not amount to the time it appears. Making the top piece will probably take up a nice portion of the total time toward completion of the project though.
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Old 10th January 2008, 01:07 AM   #110
John L is offline John L  United States
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John, I most certainly could have been a bit clearer with my explanation above, but there is a lot to put out and I sometimes fail to insert everything as I should. I will probably never make a scholar.

Unfortunately we only have a short time to edit our posts, and then the door closes for it, and the potential correction is impossible, should one wish to make a correction.

I don't like this restriction, and don't have it over at my own forum. The restrictions that hinder honest creativity are nowhere equal to the chance of adolescents to create mischief. And this forum is certainly more mature than others, so I wonder why this is a part of the Configuration here.
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