Miniature Real Estate

And so it begins- hopefully it can be completed before my daughter’s birthday, this one or the next….. and not have it take so long that she will learn to read, let alone read this blog! Better be finished before she gets too old to play with it, let alone turn 16, 21 etc!

It will be a long, drawn out affair, with much construction required, including many turnings. Dolls houses can be quite complex things when done properly!

As a bit of a test, I made this vase (Huon Pine) using typical techniques, just on a small scale.

The flower was something whipped up with Jessie out of pipecleaners until I can make something suitable.

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It is about 20mm high. (Sorry for the image quality- taken on a mobile phone)

Civilization: a thin veneer over barbarianism

John M. Shanahan

And there is one truth with all veneers: the last thing you want, is a veneer to be painfully obvious. And that means how the veneer is attached is vitally important.

So why use a veneer at all? Isn’t it just a huge cheat, for the woodworker, and for the recipient?

That really comes down to what is done, where and why. There are many reasons why a veneer is a good choice. Sometimes where a timber is in too short a supply to do the job otherwise, or so vastly expensive as to be prohibitive otherwise. If you are doing a large pattern -bookmatched tabletop for example with multiple leaves, then veneer is a definite way to achieve the multiple bookmatches required to achieve it.

Some items only come in a form that must be attached to a substrate to use it, and again, they have to be attached well.

So how do you clamp down a veneer when you are gluing it?

Some people use a pile of bricks, some a screw-press arrangement (similar to a flower press). Me? I intend to use the significant weight of air. And a significant weight it is too, yet surprisingly easy to harness, and manipulate to create an even distribution of pressure over a whole surface, even complex shapes, perfect for gluing a veneer.

It is harnessed by drawing a vacuum – nature abhores a vacuum as they say, and even by creating a partial vacuum, nature attempts to crush it out of existance.

Carbatec sell a simple vacuum press kit, by Roarockit. You may have seen the kit on numerous occasions without realising what was hidden in a plain box – the veneer of cardboard hiding the power of the contents.

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Inside is a strong plastic bag, that can be closed at one edge with a very sticky seal. There are two sized bags available in a kit form (which contains the sealing tape, pump etc), and can also be purchased as additional or replacement bags as required. I preferred the square version- still significantly sized at 26″ x 28″. There are much bigger as well – 36″ x 52″

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Veneers are not just for gluing a flat piece of figured timber to a plain core stock. It can also be used to create bent forms, by gluing multiple veneer layers together, and bent over a form.

In this example, it is the simplest version: a flat veneer glued to a core of MDF. I didn’t actually use any glue, or softening agent for these photos. (Veneers buckle easily, especially veneers from burls)

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A plasic netting is laid over the top of the veneer, inside the bag. This prevents any pockets of air from preventing a full even pressure over the whole surface.

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With the bag sealed shut, a simple hand pump is used to evacuate the bag. You won’t get all the air out- machines that can achieve a near perfect vacuum cost 10s of 1000s more than the $99 this kit cost, but that is not necessary. Even pumping out a small amount of air quickly results in the external air pressure crushing in, squashing the contents together.

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For a small investment, this kit is a real asset in the workshop, and can be used to make easy work of what can be very complicated clamping situations. Create a vacuum, and let nature do the rest.

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