Pattern Veneering

Considerable artistry is called for in the selection and matching of veneers for pattern-making, for the results can be beautiful or truly horrible, according to the skill of the operator. Modern furniture does not make use of patterned effects, although even a plain front does require careful matching of the individual leaves, therefore the techniques, as far as it is possible to describe them, should be fully understood even if the art is indefinable. One golden rule should always be observed, however, that of restraint, for a richly figured pack of veneers is an open invitation to flamboyance.

The various methods of matching veneers using two or more leaves taken in strict order from the bundle are as follows:

Balanced matched General term meaning consecutive leaves of veneer of uniform size and matched for grain.

Book form or side matched (297:1) The first leaf of the bundle opened out as in turning the pages of a book, and matched at the sides with its fellow.

Running (297:2) Consecutive leaves laid out side by side as they rise from the bundle.

Random matched (297:3) Assorted leaves not matched for grain and not necessarily of the same width.

End or butt matched (297:4) The top leaf folded down as in book form matching.

Diamond quarter (297:5) Four consecutive leaves cut diagonally and side and butt matched.

Reverse diamond (297:6) As for diamond quarter.

Quartered (297:7) Four consecutive leaves side and butt matched.

Herringbone (297:8) Two consecutive leaves cut diagonally and side matched.

Inverted herringbone (297:9) As for herringbone.

The running pattern (297:2) is usually adopted for contemporary designs as against the traditional book form pattern. Diamond and herringbone patterns are cut from successive leaves and not from a single sheet, for any slant in the grain will give a twisted effect as shown in 298B. Card templates cut to the required shape can be laid on the veneer and each section cut through to be planed square and matched with its mate. The first cutting out should be generous to allow for trimming so that the grain markings register with each other. As it is sometimes difficult to pick out the best section from a sheet of wild grain, a cardboard window the size of the template can be cut, placed over the leaf and the best section chosen and marked in pencil. When the first section has been cut the remainder of the leaf can be used as a window for successive sections. To judge the effect of book form matching of sections which are to be cut from large sheets of veneer, a piece of unframed mirror glass should be placed at right angles to the chosen area and the effect of doubling viewed in the glass, and this will

296 Matching veneers

1 Single leaf of veneer before trimming and laying

1 Single leaf of veneer before trimming and laying

2 Matched veneer panel with sides B to B and ends C to C
3 Matched veneer panel with sides B to B and ends D to D

prevent bad errors of choice. A point to watch in all veneer matching is how the pores of the wood run, for if the sheet is cut with the pores diagonal with the thickness, folding the sheet over in book form fashion will reverse the inclination of the pores, and the play of light

4 Matched veneer panel with sides A to A and ends C to C
5 Matched veneer panel with sides A to A and ends D to D

over the surface may strike correspondingly darker in opposing sections, particularly in coarse woods such as African mahogany curls or burls. The effect can be pronounced enough to ruin the appearance of side or end matching in vertical surfaces, but it can be observed before laying by opening out the leaves, wetting them on the face surfaces, standing them upright and viewing them from a distance.

Built-up patterns of various shaped sections —and the variety is endless—should be assembled on a base-plan drawn on stiff drawing paper and each piece cut to shape, taped to its mate and pressed. Complicated patterns which cannot be cut with knife and straight-edge will have to be sawn out with a fret-saw as in marquetry cutting. If the veneers are cupped they should be flatted before cutting, and if boxwood stringings, bandings and thick inlays are included they can be cut in and the difference in thickness compensated for

4 End or butt matched

6 Reverse diamond

4 End or butt matched

7 Quartered

5 Diamond quarter

6 Reverse diamond

5 Diamond quarter

8 Herringbone

9 Inverted herringbone

7 Quartered

8 Herringbone

9 Inverted herringbone by layers of softening in the final pressing, but usually it is more satisfactory to tape the various veneer sections together, lay them and then incise for the lines or inlays and re-press (see Inlay lines, bandings, etc., p. 316). For examples of intricate pattern-work the reader is referred to the innumerable encyclopaedias of furniture and to museum-work. No matter how complicated the assembly may appear in the finished work it is always basically as already described, although certain precautions may have to be adopted according to the nature of the veneers. If individual pieces or sections refuse to lie flat on the base-plan preventing

298a Diamond quartered panel (correct)

298b Diamond quartered panel (incorrect)

298a Diamond quartered panel (correct)

298b Diamond quartered panel (incorrect)

accurate fitting, it may be necessary to paper tape the plan to a supporting base and glue each section down with dabs of hide glue, Seccotine or Balsa cement weighted in position until set. The whole assembly is then covered with a glued cover paper, and when thoroughly dry split away from the plan with a sharp knife and the back cleaned off, using as little water as possible (Balsa cement will have to be sanded off). Fragile veneers cut to sharp points may have to be reinforced with a glued cover paper before they are cut, and time spent on such preparation will be amply repaid. All cover papers and backings should be glued with thin hide glue in preference to resin adhesives, and in no circumstances should impact glues be used as they are extremely difficult to clean off.

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