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Old 24-09-2006, 19:13   #1
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Cutting veneer ply - any tips?

In the nnext couple of weeks I am going to be laying the new floor in the sallon of my boat. I am going to be using a marine ply with a teak & ash (equivalent to teak & holly) veneer.

I am wondering if any of you can offer any advice for cutting it / working with it? I am paranoid about cutting across the grain and chipping the veneer. I am paranoid about planing it and chipping the veneer. I am paranoid about looking at it sideways and chipping the veneer!

Any top tips and advice gratefully received!
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Old 24-09-2006, 21:02   #2
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Right tools

If you don't have the right tools and techniques you will get lousy cuts and blown out veneers on one side or both.

Straight cuts and curve cuts require different tools.

Having had a wood shop I had access to all the right tools, equipment and technique. My advice would be as follows, but if you provide more information about your situation a procedure which better fits YOUR circumstances can be outlined:

Use some stiff cardboard or very thin plywood which is flat and make templates of the entire job, labeling each mating edge and which is the side to be facing uo. Hopefully most of the cuts can be straight and parallel.

For those cuts that aren't you can still cut a rectangular piece and use the template to trace the non parallel or curved cut and even cut it oversized and use a belt sander to remove the excess material to the line.

You will want the grain running through effectively making your cuts like those in a jig saw so that it is not ONLY shape and size that matters but pattern.

With the inlaid strips this means a lot of planning so that you have no cuts too close to the small ash strips or right down one.

Layout is more important than the actual cutting.

You might consider working out the entire cut schedule including the sequence of the cuts and bring it all to a wood shop and pay them to cut it with there machinery.. hopefully as you stand by. If not make sure they understand the job thoroughly.

If you mill the panels yourself with hand power saws you will want to clamp on a straight edge and not try to cut a straight line even by following a drawn line.

Do some practice cuts on sacrificial material to determine the exact distance to clamp the fence guide.

All milling and cutting and sanding and tooling should be INTO the face of the good side... this means the teeth cute down. If you must use a reciprocating saw, use a very fine tooth blade and make sure that the teeth have the correct orientation. You can get reverse toothed blades.

Applying tape to the surface my reduce splintering for poor cutting tools, but it is always better to use the proper shape carbide tipped blades. And ATB tooth is fine for expensive plywood veneer. You will also want to have a blade with the correct number of teeth per inch. *0 teeth would be fine for a 10" blade.

Make some practice cuts on some sacrificial material and work everything out. You only get one chance at that expensive veneer wood.. so plan plan plan ahead.

You also might want to prefinish the panel BEFORE you cut it. You can over coat and do the edges and backside after.

Good luck
Jef
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Old 24-09-2006, 21:46   #3
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Thanks very much for all the tips.

I have already made templates out of 3mm craftwood for each panel.

I do not have access to much in the way of tools - I have various hand says and a hand plane. I have an electric jig saw and an electric plane, a router and can get access to a rotary saw mounted underneath a work bench, if necessary.
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Old 24-09-2006, 21:49   #4
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Hmmmm..... my advice is much simpler. Circular saw blades tear the wood as the teeth exit the kerf. On rips or crosscuts, just make sure they exit the backside and the blade is kept sharp. Reciprocating blades do a great job on curves, but if the edge of the curve will be seen, you'll get better results with a template and a router. Of course, if the piece will fit on a bandsaw, that's the correct tool.

Rick in Florida
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Old 25-09-2006, 12:54   #5
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If you are "stuck" with hand tools.. A router is the cleanest cutter as far a splintering and blow outs. Use a follow bit and a template for the curves.

Straight cuts should be done with a clamped on fence guide.

Supporting the panel and the drop are very important as your can have it fall, break away and ruin the veneer.

Tooling requires that the material OR the cutting tool be as stable as possible. Try to create this situation when using hand tools.

Sharp tools are essential.
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Old 25-09-2006, 23:05   #6
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As a vote of confidence, I did my entire cabin sole last winter using a $20 jig saw and 2 very sharp, fine tooth carbide blades (45' LOA x 14' Beam).

These woods are well glued and don't tend to rip up at all when using this method. I didn't do any templates, I just used the old cabin sole for my template, leaving some extra "meat" on each piece in places I knew the old sole was lacking. We have such a perfect fit that our sole appears like a single piece when looked at from more than 5 feet away.

One word of caution - lay things out and think twice and three times to get the most out of your sheets. Get the grain right so they line up and look all neat when installed. Go slowly. With the price of these sheets though, I'm sure I didn't have to warn you about this.
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Old 26-09-2006, 00:47   #7
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Thanks Sean, It is good to hear that it can be done by someone who isn't a professional carpenter, joiner or cabinetmaker. As for going slowly, you are preaching to the converted there, for sure! heh heh.
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Old 26-09-2006, 03:05   #8
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i agree with the masking tape and upside down fine teeth blade if using a jigsaw
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Old 26-09-2006, 08:46   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan
Thanks Sean, It is good to hear that it can be done by someone who isn't a professional carpenter, joiner or cabinetmaker. As for going slowly, you are preaching to the converted there, for sure! heh heh.

It's pretty easy, actully - and I STINK at any and all woodworking. I'm probably the worse carpenter you have ever seen. I tried making a desk in my college days out of plywood and 2x4's. You know... just a functional junker. Well, it barely held my computer up and would sway back and forth and creak, even though I thought I had braced everything properly.

So if I can do it you *definitely* can.
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Old 26-09-2006, 20:56   #10
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I've had GREAT luck with a fine toothed pull saw. It will even cut a shallow curve and leaves a smooth edge. You can Google it and get lots of hits, or go down to the local big box hardware & lumber dealer and pick on up. Follow this link for more information. http://www.asktooltalk.com/home/arti...ls/pullsaw.htm
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Old 26-09-2006, 22:50   #11
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Been some good answers and I'll add my two cents. With a circular blade, ensure you blade height is kept low, so as the teeth are just through the ply. That is the entire tooth deep must exit the sheet. Don't have it that the cutting part is just showing through. This keeps the teeth cutting "through" the sheet and not down across it. The blade set to high is what causes the fibres to tear as the blade exits the material.
Use a good blade with lots of teeth and You require a very fast blade speed. (I have run as fast as 6000RPM on a 305mm 12" blade, but it sounds scary and needs a lot of Hp) At least 3500 to 4000 is a good speed. The blade teeth should "hiss" as it turns.
Keep a good pressure down on the sheet to stop the sheet from lifting on the blade. Have the back side of the sheet, table side down, good side up. The teeth must cut down into the goodside and exit the underside.
Personaly I have never found taping the cut to work very well. When I have cut very fine special materials that easily tear, I mark the edge of the cut with a sharp cutting knife to score deep into the edge. This ensures the veneer doesn't tear out along it's grain. But is is time consuming to set the sheet up before cutting. It helps with maintaining a very fine edge detail and you use this method for but joining a sheet that you want as little noticable joint to be seen as possible.
Good luck and don't forget to post a photo or two when you compleate the job.
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:46   #12
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Cutting Veneers

I am the owner of a cabinetmaking and joinery business and ffer the following advice;

Cut veneers on a panel saw using a primary cutting blade suitable for laminates as well as having the scribing blade set and running for same.

In lieu of not having access to a panel saw, other tools will do the job, but it is critical to have sharp blades.

If using a router and template, ensure template is accurate, and that you closely follow the template with the bearing on your router bit. If doing a stratight cut, or working from a fence, double check its position in relation the the working side of the cutter. (We have tradesmen who mis-calcuate this and we end up with the piece 12mm too big or small).

If cutting across the grain, you can scribe with a sharp knife your line being sure to cut through the veneer layer, this will prevent chipping when you cut the board with a saw.

Cutting the piece roughly to size (say 3mm bigger) with a jigsaw or similar, and then planing and/or sanding the piece to your line is another method that can be employed. Do not overlook the benefit of a belt sander for this process if you have one.

Good luck, fitting out in boats is one of the most challenging jobs you will undertake; nothing is square, and compound curves abound. Take your time, think about each piece and "Measure twice, cut once!!".

Fair winds

Steve
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