Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Masterful Veneer Work & Painting Skills

 I recently spent some time learning  how to cut and apply veneer for a small table I have been restoring as a personal project.  I thought by doing the work myself, I would gain a better grasp of what the craftsmen actually do, here at the shop.  And boy have I been surprised,  each skill I have learned for the sake of my table has been much more challenging then I expected, and given me a much greater appreciation of the skills the craftsmen here have.  So when I saw the work one of them did on the edges of this small table, I was amazed.
All four sides to the table have these very small pieces of veneer, cut at alternating angles, and fit closely together.  There were multiple pieces that had chipped or come off all together.  We recently brought on a new Craftsman and he certainly proved himself with this project.  Can you see in the above picture the little pieces he cut and glued in place?  Those cuts are perfect and the pieces could not fit into their places any better.

After the veneer was attached he evened out the original Shellac coating, so that it spread over the entire side, including the new pieces of veneer.  Shellac and Nitrocellulose Laquer are the only two kinds of finish that you can re-liquify and spread out in this manner.  Had this table had any other kind of finish, we would have had to apply an all new coat.
The table base was then glued back together.  Because wood naturally shrinks with time and a dry climate, there was some gapping in the seams where the sides joined with the legs.  These seams were filled with a very hard epoxy putty.  Of course, epoxy putty is lighter then the wood on this table, and has no grain lines.  So our Master Craftsman stepped in at this point to complete the job.
Our Master Craftsman is a touchup wizard.  He can create a wood grain on just about anything.  Using 7 different colors of shellac (Pine, Cherry, Medium Maple, Universal Walnut, Burnt Sienna, Extra Dark Walnut and Canary Yellow) he is painting on wood grain over the putty areas, making cracks where the wood was broken and glued disappear, and adding highlighting to the new veneer where the grain was not as dramatic as the old.  With skills like this, maybe he should hang his work in a gallery!

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