By David J. Marks
Cutting your own veneers on the bandsaw opens up a world of opportunity in woodworking.
Once you are able to cut your own veneers, any rare piece of wood you have can be multiplied and extended to cover more surfaces. The advantages of veneering are many, for instance, stability. Woodworkers are constantly challenged by woods hygroscopic nature, which means its propensity to react to humidity levels. When it is dry, wood loses moisture and shrinks. When it is wet, wood takes on moisture and expands. Veneering wood onto a stable substrate such as plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard) eliminates wood movement problems almost completely. I qualify that, because the ability of wood to move should not be underestimated and I have seen even veneers exert enough force to open glue lines when glues that do not cure rigid have been used.
I use a long straight fence to resaw veneer on the bandsaw as opposed to a single point fence. The blades I use are ½ inch wide with six teeth per inch and moderate set. I find these blades leave a smooth cut and a narrow kerf, about a 32nd of an inch, which allows me to get six to eight veneers per inch.
Bandsaw blades have a nuance called drift. The term “drift” means that as you feed the stock into the blade, the cut will not be straight. The good news is that the drift is consistent so you can compensate for it by adjusting the fence. I find the drift of each new bandsaw blade that I install by taking a piece of scrap wood that is 2 inches thick and approximately 2 to 3 feet long and jointing one edge. Then, after scribing a pencil line about an eighth of an inch in parallel to that edge I begin cutting it on the bandsaw trying to follow the line. After cutting about one third of the board, turn off the saw and hold the board firmly in position. Then take a bevel gauge and check the angle. It is not unusual to find the angle of the drift can be as much as five or six degrees off perpendicular to the left or right. Now you can set the angle of the fence to match the angle of the bevel gauge.
By using this technique you can set your fence to the desired thickness of the veneer, say one eighth of an inch or three thirty seconds and with care, successfully cut slice after slice of your own veneer.