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18…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 1

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.”
…Earl Nightingale

This episode is part of the Let’s Build Series

Woodworking Tips and Techniques:

1.) Slicing wood veneer on the Band Saw.
2.) Laminating veneers.
3.) How to veneer using a Vacuum Press.

Woodworking tools for this episode include the band saw, table saw, and the vacuum press.

As woodworkers we seek to challenge ourselves as a way to improve our craft. Sometimes we take on a fine woodworking project to learn new techniques of the wood craft. As a result, this requires us to hone our current woodworking skills and also forces us to broaden our range of skills. One way to test ones performance is to work with a minimum amount of material to see if the project can be completed with accuracy and efficiency. This was the goal of creating a jewelry box with beautifully grained premium curly Koa . Our challenge in this how to article and video series is to build a decorative jewelry box of koa wood veneer. We will be using a vacuum press to laminate the veneers.

In the Hawaiian language Koa means brave, bold, fearless, or a warrior. This is the mindset we adopt for our woodworking project as we choose to work with confidence and efficiency. We will draw upon all of our skills and experience developed over our time practicing our woodcraft and we now focus on mastering the techniques required for this project at hand. Are you game? Let’s begin!

The Band Saw…slicing wood veneer.

We are going to cut veneer to a thickness of 3/32. First of all, in order to make this happen we will need to account for band saw “drift.”

How do we determine band saw drift?
We will take a straight and flat piece of scrap wood about 2” wide x 20″ long and scribe a straight line along its length. We will set the regular band saw fence aside and then we’ll free hand the cut along the line. After about 12″ – 16″ of cutting we now have a good idea of the angle of drift. Next, we keep the board in place and use a bevel square to reference the drift angle. Then we’ll align the band saw fence to the newly found drift angle by using the bevel square while also allowing a 3/32″ clearance between the fence and the band saw blade. Now, we will want to test the setup for accuracy. To do so we just take another piece of scrap (to replicate our good stock) and run it through the band saw. When we have a straight and parallel section of wood veneer sliced at 3/32″ we are ready to proceed. We need to take our time and be patient because the setup is worth it. With accuracy comes our reward in the form of confidence and efficiency.

Why not use the original band saw fence for slicing wood veneer?
There is a better way. Notice that the workshop made band saw fence in the woodworking video is tall to accommodate for wide veneers. The tall fence allows the us to push the stock forward while assuring the material is pressed against the fence. On the other hand, the wide base of the fence allows us an area to adequately clamp the fence to the band saw table. Note:The fence must be 90 degrees to the base. (Building an accurate shopmade, made band saw fence for ripping wood veneer is one of the good small wood projects for those new to woodworking as it can easily be constructed with scrap materials such as MDF or plywood. Keep in mind…The material selected must be flat and straight.)

What if I don’t have any push sticks?
If we want to play in the Big Leagues we will need the necessary skills, equipment, and attitude. We want to always work safely!
We make a variety of push sticks and we keep them handy. Keep our hands and fingers clear of the band saw blade.

Laminating Veneers
Woodworking tips….
Preparation makes a difference. We want to allow enough space on our woodworking bench for gluing our veneers to the 1/4″ MDF cores. In this case we will use yellow glue. We will need veneer tape to join the veneers on both sides of the MDF core. (As you can see in the woodworking video a scrap block was used to spread the glue as well as an acid brush.) Also, we will need some blue tape to fasten the veneer packets once they are glued. Remember, we will need to work fast due to the glue’s setup time. So, we need to stay focused and get the veneer packets into the vacuum press asap. Note: On the day of gluing the veneers it was over 100 degrees so we had to work quickly and efficiently.

Using a Vacuum Press.
We want to allow plenty of space for the vacuum bag. We also want to have a platen prepared to cover our veneers packets as well. In the video we cut a particle board platen to the overall size of our veneer packets. (To protect the bag from potential tears we round over the corners of the platen.) Once the packets and platen are in place in the vacuum press bag then it is just a matter of sealing the vacuum bag with the provided clamps and turning on the vacuum pump.

Watch the woodworking video…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 2

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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  1. I bought a piece of curly Koa through eBay and I want to use it for this project. Is there any way I can get away without using a veneer vacuum press – I know there are other techniques for applying veneer – can you suggest a few that you like if a vacuum pump is not readily available.


  2. John…
    Here’s a few thoughts.
    1.) Follow all the steps used in the video leading up to the vacuum press. (Make sure to use tape around the edges of the packet. Blue tape is better than masking tape for removal of the tape) Now place the each veneer packet between 2 flat boards of lengths and widths equal to the packets and clamp to distribute the pressure. Make sure to apply plastic on both sides of the packet so that glue will not bond between the board and veneer packet. Let the glue set-up overnight.

    2.) After the packet is glued and taped…Sandwich the packet between 2 flat surfaces and weight it down. For example…a garage floor or workbench and a flat board…then use a heavy object like a concrete block or a weight to press down on the packet. Again use plastic on both sides of the packet. Hope this helps.

  3. Carl says

    is there anyway I could possible download all 6 videos on this box, thank you.

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