Preparation of Curved Marquetry Panels – Part #2

This article is a continuation from Part #1 of this series.

Preparing The Panels

Each panel began with a piece of 5/8″ particle board cut to exact dimensions from top to bottom and overlapping dimensions from side to side. I rabbeted the top and bottom edges of the stationary panels with tongue joints toward the upper side of the panel. The door panels were cut square.

The back of the panel to be bent must be slotted with numerous parallel cuts from top to bottom on a radial arm saw. I made my cuts to two-thirds of the panel thickness and approximately 3/16″ to 1/4″ apart. The series of cuts should cover the entire expanse over which the panel will be bent. I left two inches on either side unslotted to be trimmed and rabbeted for tongue joints later. The panel will naturally lose some of its dimension from side to side when bent in the press and final sizing is best left until later.

I then dampened the newly slotted panel slightly on both sides and loosely centered it between the two halves of the reinforced caul which had been lined with sheets of wax paper. Next I placed the assembled caul in the veneer press and applied gentle pressure from two clamps on the cross supports. When completely compressed, the panel sat for an hour in the press, before being removed and air dried. The unveneered panel will not yet retain its final configuration and will spring back somewhat when release from the press.

Then I prepared two cross-banding veneers of soft texture so that their grain would run from side to side over the curve of the panel. I applied carpenter’s aliphatic glue to both sides of the particle board core and then loosely sandwiched the core between the two veneers. Then I quickly placed the sandwich between the reinforced cauls and into the veneer press. I slowly applied gentle pressure, making sure that all parts remained centered until the press was fully compressed. After curing overnight, I trimmed the veneer edges and the panel to final dimensions with rabbeted tongue joints. At this point the three layer lamination retained its final shape and was ready for a front and back face veneer or marquetry with grain running from top to bottom for stabilization.

Next I constructed the face veneers, applying the pieces with contact cement to assure accurate locating. I pressed each assembled panel, now a five-part lamination, between the reinforced caul halves in the veneer press. The final panels I jointed on all four sides, except for the door panels which were square cut.

The work is now ready for assembly and finishing.

If you have any questions regarding the process described above, the tools that are required to complete it, or pretty much any other questions related to woodworking, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you personally. Thanks for reading and good luck with your own projects.

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