Unless handled carefully, 0.6mm thin veneer will split at the drop of a proverbial hat but provided the damage isn’t too great, it can be repaired with a few strips of special gummed veneer tape, which can be easily removed later on.
After the repairs to the splits, the two teak leaves in question (each about 600mm long) are cut into two pairs, one of which will be ‘slip’ matched and the other ‘book’ matched; these are the two most common ways of joining veneer. In a slip matched pattern, the leaves chalked 1 & 2 are placed side by side. Whereas in a book match, the second leaf (2) is turned over onto its reverse side and a diagonal chalk or pencil line across the joint indicates the two ‘show’ sides.
When using a craft knife and steel rule to cut veneer, as shown in the image, I advise extreme caution. This is one of the most dangerous (if not the most dangerous) things you can do with hand tools as it only takes a moment’s inattention for the blade to ride up over the edge and slide straight across your thumb.
Believe it or not, some years ago I managed to do this twice in one week on the same thumb and had to go to A&E on both occasions. Surprisingly, I haven’t done this little trick since then. Blood and gore aside, the first pair of veneers can now be offered up for jointing.
The eventual joint is marked with a pair of yellow arrows and, in order to make it, leaf 2 is turned 180° underneath leaf 1, so that the prospective joint (yellow arrow, left) is now a double thickness of veneer. For illustrative purposes, leaf 2 can be seen on the right hand side of the picture (yellow arrow, right).
There are a number of ways of producing the joint, all of which work to a greater or lesser extent, but the easiest way to give yourself a fighting chance of making a perfect joint is to construct a veneer shoot.
Mine is a simple affair and consists of two long lumps of melamine faced chipboard (and it does have its uses) screwed together with enough space along one side as the runway for a plane. Any plane within reason will do, provided it’s long and will sit squarely on the runway. A Rider No.7 would be ideal, but in my case I made ‘Big Woody’ some years ago.
Now ‘Big Woody’ is 72cm long and a bit special, being made from Honduras mahogany with a 12mm thick greenheart sole, closed tote and a fully adjustable mouth. The cap iron is 8mm thick solid brass and the double iron is 6mm thick, O1 carbon steel, made for me by my pal Phill Edwards of Phillyplanes fame.
Place the two leaves of veneer into the veneer shoot and then hold them firmly with a lump of mdf placed on top.
With the joint completed (yellow arrow), it can now be taped together. I use small pieces of ‘Tesa’ masking tape to pull the two halves together and then lay a strip of veneer tape down the middle. As it dries out, the paper tape shrinks slightly and will pull the joint together really tightly. I then go over it with a heavy stainless steel roller just to make sure it’s secure and laying flat. Don’t be tempted to use cheap masking tape as it probably won’t be stretchy enough and may not be very sticky. It has its uses, but veneer jointing isn’t one them…use it at your peril!
The book matched joint is made in exactly the same way, except that leaf 2 is turned over onto its reverse side through 360° before being positioned underneath leaf 1. The visual difference between slip and book matching can easily be seen in the last picture.