Interesting Woodworking Link

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Episode #101 – Sand Shading

After spending a very pleasant afternoon cutting on the scroll saw I was faced with approximately 20 small pieces of veneer representing the various pieces of this cherry blossom motif. The cutting went very well.

I learned to be flexible and go with the process. As each piece was cut free of the packet, I placed them on an off-cut tray sitting to the right of my saw.
The next step was to get set-up for sand shading.

My sand shader consists of an old No. 8 cast iron skillet, an electric hot plate and some fine white quartz sand. My wife picked up the cast iron skillet for me at a second hand store. Try as we may, we could not locate a used electric hot plate so I ended up purchasing one new from a local hardware store. The sand was purchased a pet supply.

As each piece was selected for sand shading I would refer to the original drawing to identify areas to be shaded. I used some scrap veneer to get a feel of how hot the sand was and the time needed for a light shading. Turns out that with the hot plate set to medium I could put the veneer in the sand and get a perfect degree of shading by counting to 5.

After sand shading each piece was returned to the cut-off tray. Heat from the sand shader made each piece of veneer dry and brittle with a slight curve. The next step was to re-hydrate the pieces with a small bit of water on my finger tip. Each piece was then placed in a “press” made from two scrap pieces of ¾ inch Baltic Birch Plywood covered with wax paper. The weight from the top plywood platen was all that was needed to flatten each piece of veneer as it absorbed the water and gently dried.

I was pretty excited as I started to assemble the pieces into the background veneer. A thin green border was applied followed by a wide banding of mitered mahogany. My favorite part of every veneer project is putting the assembly into the vacuum press. I have a small heating pad on top of the press covered with a heavy moving blanket to keep the temperature high enough for the plastic resin veneer glue to cure under heat and pressure.

As I write this blog entry this evening the vacuum press is running. I will be fun to share the results within the next few days!


Anonymous said...


The project is looking terrific, and I look forward to also seeing it after it comes out of the press. Well done!

David Pruett said...

Al -

Thank you so much for the kind comments! I am finding marquetry very fun and enjoyable. I know it will be a path of practice, practice and practice. I was really amazed how this looked once all the pieces were assembled. There were a couple of points that I thought to myself "what have you gotten yourself into" and even considered scrapping the whole thing in favor of just doing a simple burl veneer bottom for the tray.