6 methods of veneer manufacture. Which of them is used in your sawmill?


Photo: American hardwood export council

A veneer is a thin layer of coarser wood to be glued to an inferior wood to improve its appearance. The lower layer is usually one of lesser decorative or aesthetic value. Veneer refers to the thin sheets that are sliced off from a hardwood log by using different processes.

The machines that cut out veneers with differing grain patterns are basically of two types: ROTARY MILLS AND SLICING MILLS. Whereas rotary mills complete the entire veneering process at one location, the components produced by a slicing mill have to be further processed at another location. However, the log preparation procedure for producing the veneer faces is similar, though the type of cut is different.

Different slicing methods are used to produce different visual effects. Logs of a given species, cut by different methods will produce a variety of appearances.

There are many ways to slice veneer and each method produces a unique look in the pattern of the grain.

Here are the most common cutting styles for veneer production: rotary cut, flat slicing, quarter slicing, half round slicing, rift-cutting, lenghwise slicing.


It is the most economical method of cutting. In rotary cutting, the log is mounted centrally in the lathe and turned against a blade, as if unwinding a roll of paper. In order to achieve veneer sheet sequences, we score the log or burl at one point. The modern lathes use a computerized method to determine the true center of the log in order to optimize the yield. This produces sheets that begin wide and gradually get narrower as the blade cuts closer to the logs and burls heart. Since this cut follows the log’s annual growth rings, a wide, bold grain pattern is produced. This method of cut is also used for very exotic woods like burls and uniquely figured species like, bird’s eye maple, sapele pommele, and macore mommele.

The rotary cut veneer has a wild and variegated grain because the veneer is cut at a broad angle by the knife parallel to the growth ring (which is shaped like a tall slender cone). Veneer surfaces that have been rotary cut are best suited for components that make cabinets and smaller pieces of furniture. Rotary cut veneer is in demand in some markets because it is cheaper.

For all veneers that will not be rotary sliced, the logs are sawn into halves, thirds, or quarters or more.


Prior to slicing, the bark of the log is removed, sawed in half longitudinally (roughly) and these sawed up halves or quarters (called flitch) are placed in vats of hot water or steam. The log is sliced by clamping the halves into slicing machines with the back or the flattest side against the slicer plate. The slicer alternately raises and lowers the sawn half at an angle between a fixed knife and a pressure bar. Whereas in some machines the slicing happens during the “down” stroke, in others it happens in the “up” stroke.

Once a veneer is cut, the log half or quarter is moved closer to the knife automatically by the machine. As the cut veneer falls off, it is stacked in pallets in the same order as it was cut. This order is maintained so that all the faces that are manufactured from a given sawn log of wood are alike. The cut veneers, nevertheless, display gradual changes in appearance and character.

The veneers are usually cut in a manner that best uses the width of the log, and the result is bundles of veneers of varying widths. At this point, veneer samples are sent to prospective buyers for evaluation. Typically, the samples from three locations within the flitch stack are sent to the buyers: first one at a one-third distance from the top of the stack, second one at half the distance from the top, and the third one from two-thirds into the stack. From a small stack, usually only two veneers are sampled. This helps the buyer to understand the character of the veneer from the face to the back of the log.

The outer parts of the veneers are then clipped to remove the sapwood, juvenile wood, knots, and discoloration. The clipped veneer lines are not parallel and as a result they are not ready to be spliced at this point in time. The clipped veneers can be packed neatly in a bundle and these bundles are shipped to a veneer splicer who processes the dried raw veneers into faces and backs.

As in the case of rotary cut veneers, sliced veneers are also passed through a dryer to reduce moisture content to about 6 to 12 percent before they are subjected to any further processing. Some slicing machines have additional capabilities (like splicing) to convert the veneers into panel faces.

A plain slice is a cut that is tangential to the center of the log. The growth rings are conically shaped and, therefore, the cut at the bottom is parallel to the growth ring whereas the cut at the top is nearly at right angle to the growth ring. In a plain slice, the pattern of the grain assumes the shape of an inverted “V” (sometimes called a cathedral on some veneers). Many a time, the cathedrals are of the same height on most of the veneers and they are centered. A panel that is made up of such veneers has the design of a king”s crown on them. For the same reason, these veneers are also called “crown cut”. Clipping before the veneers are spliced can sometimes result in a partial cathedral component on the sheets. If these are matched, the resultant appearance is a split-heart cathedral. Plain sliced veneers may also alternately have a rift cut, quartered or rotary cut appearance. This is dependent on the individual log and the angle at which it is cut when sliced.

When a log is sliced, it displays a more pronounced grain pattern and for this reason sliced veneer is preferred to be used in the manufacture of wall panels, cabinets, furniture and cabinets of higher quality.


The quarters from a log are usually cut with the help of a plain slicing machine. The log is cut into four longitudinal pieces instead of the usual two. The quarter log is placed on the slicing machine such that the blade, at every stroke, slices the flitch in a direction perpendicular to that of the growth rings and in a radial direction to the log”s center. The appearance of the grain is very straight in this case. Wood rays, found in all species, but more commonly in wood such as red and white oak, are exposed by quarter slicing and in these cases are referred to as fleck or quarter flake.

In cases where only the straight gain appearance is required minus the flake, the log is rift cut to eliminate the flake. For this, the flitch is placed on a machine called the stay log or half round. This machine functions like a rotary slicer but is different in that the log passes under the knife only for a minor part of the revolution. The log is cut perpendicular to the rays but not the growth rings. Rift cut machines make the appearance of flakes less prominent on veneers than quarter-sliced ones.

Plain sliced logs sometimes take on the appearance of quartered veneer or rift-cut veneer because, at the end of the slicing exercise, the machine cuts the log at right angles to the growth rings and thereby exposes the juvenile wood of the tree. This portion is softer, weak, has knots and is discolored. These are clipped off and the remaining straight grain from the sides of the log is visible. Such veneers are also called “bastard quarters”. They are few in numbers and are narrow.

The bastard quarters of red and white oak that contain flakes are sold as quarter sliced and those without flakes are sold as rift cut veneers. However, they should meet basic standards for the specified grade. Panel face components made from such veneers are also likely to be narrow.

Using a stay log machine is yet another method of cutting veneers from logs. This is commonly used on the wood of maple (it can be used on any wood species) as it produces lighter wood (more sapwood) than does a conventional log slicer. Keeping away from the dark heartwood of maple is a desirable characteristic. It works much like a rotary log slicing machine. A flitch is placed with an offset on the lathe in a manner that the knife comes in contact with the flitch for only half a rotation. The resultant cut resembles a plain slice with a broader grain appearance. Such veneers are sold as half round or plain sliced.

Whatever be the method of cutting the veneer, preparation of the log is a very important factor. The log should be adequately cooked. Under-cooking does not loosen the fibers and it results in the veneers displaying a ruptured appearance. Over-cooking, on the other hand, causes excessive breakdown of the fibers and the veneers tend to have a fuzzy appearance. This may also lead to red-colored discolorations in parts of the log.

Another important factor is the condition of the knife on the lathe. If the knife has a nick, it leads to formation of gouges on the veneer surface all across the grain. These marks are more obvious in wood that is hard and those that have a high mineral or ash content like hickory. They can, however, occur in any species. Lighter knife marks are removed by sanding the panel surface. Those that cannot be removed serve to reduce the grade and value of the veneer sheet.

In this context, it is important to note that any method of cutting the veneers produces different patterns of grain on the veneer surfaces. Whereas rotary cut wood sometimes appears like plain sliced, half round cut produces both the patterns. Quarter sliced and rift cut veneers have straight grain regions on the sides. The Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association and Architectural Woodwork Institute standards therefore have a note under the veneer heading tables which clarify that the headings refer only to the patterns on the veneer face and not the method by which it is cut. The method of cutting is the prerogative of the mill unless otherwise specified by the buyer. An example would be “plain sliced to be cut on a either a vertical slicer lathe or a half-round rotary machine”.


Half round slicing is a variation of rotary cutting. Veneer is sliced on an arc roughly parallel to the center of the log to achieve a flat cut appearance.  The ‘cathedral’ pattern can have more rounded tops than the pattern produced by flat slicing.

Segments or flitches of the log are mounted off center on the lathe. This results in a cut slightly across the annular growth rings, and visually shows modified characteristics of both rotary and plain sliced veneer.


Rift slicing also achieves a straight grain pattern, but avoids the appearance of “flake” that occurs in some species when quarter sliced. Rift slicing uses a “stay log lathe,” which cuts with a rotary action. A quarter of the log is fixed to a plate on a turning stay log. As the flitch is rotated, the blade and angle can be varied so that the wood is cut exactly to produce the very straight rift grain. Most often, this method is used with oak. Other species such as rift-cut maple, walnut and cherry can be specified to be rift cut to achieve wider sheet widths. Since rift grain is generally the straightest and free from cathedrals and variations in grain, it is used to enhance verticality, and is easily sequenced and matched.


A board of flat sawn lumber is passed flat over a stationary knife. As it passes, a sheet of veneer is sliced from the bottom of the board. The width of the veneer and figure produced with this method depends on the width and figure of the sawn lumber and is typically variegated.


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30 wooden construction techniques every wood maker should be familiar with

30 wooden construction techniques every wood maker should be familiar with

There are many types of materials and processes that wooden construction can be built with depending on location and availability of materials. Materials and methods for constructing each structure or add-on can vary depending on location, usage, existing structure, desired performance, climate conditions, code restrictions, proximity to other structures and in place or planned landscaping. Wooden construction methods, costs and required skill levels vary for each type of material.

Most pieces express a number of techniques? And whether a piece is intended to be a visual feast, the importance of technique cannot be over-emphasized. The following entries of wooden construction techniques will allow you to build up a knowledge and, thus, your confidence when building wooden objects.


Abrading is the general term applied to smoothing wood before applying a finish, but it is also a term for shaping woos using hand or power tools. Although much abrading does consist of sanding for a fine finish, it would be limiting to confine the term to this function only, since abrading is also a very important shaping technique.


The natural characteristic of wood is that it bends. Some woods however are more bendy than others. Bending is an economic way to fashion the material because forming curves by jointing straight pieces and then shaping them is more complex and time consuming.

The main wood-bending techniques are: steam bending, laminating and saw kerfing.


Biscuit jointing is a method of wood jointing which you can use as an alternative to many traditional joints. It is a quick and easy jointing system suitable for carcasses and frames in solid wood and manufactured board. The biscuit joints combines a simple butt or miter joint with an elliptical compressed wood insert called a biscuit which gives the joint its strength. The biscuit slot is easily located and cut with a biscuit jointer – a small diameter circular saw with a plunging cutter.


The butt joint is the simplest of corner joints, as it consists of two square-ended pieces of wood meeting together without any overlap. Because of this, it needs reinforcement by gluing, nailing, or screwing.


Like sawing, chiseling is an essential woodworking skill. It is primarily a hand technique requiring some degree of dexterity. The hand chisel is used for cutting, trimming, and shaping, and particular removing stock or waste in joint cutting.


The need to hold work securely is important in wood working. Apart from being a firm and solid base, the woodworking bench is the most basic holding and supporting device. Incorporated into it is usually a metal or wooden vice which supports work up to about 6 inches wide. Metal vices should be faced with sturdy hardwood to prevent bruising the wood being held. As a general rule, keep the wood as low as possible in the vice to avoid vibration or “chatter” when sawing or planing.


No other woodworking joint has the universal appeal of the dovetail. It seems to express the whole spirit of wood craftsmanship yet, paradoxically, as a joint it is virtually redundant today in its strictest mechanical sense. The dovetail will probably always hold great appeal, not just visually but as a challenge for woodworkers to make in its variety of forms. It can be made by hand or machine, and recent dovetail jigs involving the router now make the machine dovetail look as good as the traditional hand-cut version. There are various types of dovetail ranging from lap dovetails, secret-mitered dovetails, single dovetails, and common dovetails. All basically depend upon the same wedge shape to give them mechanical strength.


The dowel joint is quick and simple to make because it consists of using small wooden pegs instead of hand-cut wood. It offers a versatile and strong system of connecting wood, requiring limited equipment. The joint can form any configuration of pieces, such as “L” shaped, “T” shaped, “X” shaped, etc., and it is often used instead of the mortise-and-tenon. To ensure the joint is strong, several dowels are used instead of the single tenon.

The joint comprises two pieces butted or mitered together with a serious of carefully aligned drill holes to accommodate the wood dowel. Normally the dowel is made of a sturdy wood, such as beech or maple, manufactured in short lengths of three main diameters – 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 inch – with flutings or grooves to allow the glue to disperse evenly. Without these the dowel can act as a piston and compress the glue in the hole. The quickest and most accurate method of dowel jointing is to use commercial dowel center points or a locating/drilling jig, both of which are readily available from good tool stores.


Many woodworkers regard drawing as an unnecessary chore; some even find it daunting. Indeed it is not vital to be able to draw when working with wood other than to possess basic measuring and laying out skills.

However, if you wish to become a versatile practitioner, an ability to draw and understand drawings is a great advantage.


Modern methods have made drilling considerably easier. Holes are “drilled” by the removal of wood fibers with an “Archimedes-screw”-type bit, which is rotated at speed in the chuck of a hand power drill. The fibers are severed and cleared from the hole by the drill flutings or grooves.

Holes can also be cut by the scraping action of a spade or flat-bit which is specifically designed for a power drill. Hand-drilling has been largely superseded by the more efficient power drill which can be hand-held or fixed in a drill stand.


When wide boards or panels are required, you will find it is usually necessary to join together narrower pieces along their edges to make up the width. Boards vary in width, according to the species of tree from which they are cut.

If you look at the end grain of any solid board, you will notice the annual rings. A rule of thumb is that the annual rings will try to straighten out when the wood dries. This gives you an indication of which way the board will warp. If the annual rings are long, it means the board has been “plane sawn” from the tree and is likely to warp more than a board with short annual rings.

There are various methods of edge-jointing. The simplest method is to joint the boards edge to edge and glue and clamp them. For a stronger and more lasting bond, the edge joint can be reinforced with dowels, biscuits, or by using a long loose plywood tongue which slots into both faces of the joint. By using a special bit in a router, you can also make a “tongue-and-groove: joint or a milled joint. These methods not only improve the mechanical strength, but also lengthen the glue line across the section of the wood.


Today there is a practical need for treating the edges of furniture for both tactile and visual reasons, especially as much of it is made of veneered particle board. The brittle edges of this cheap substitute for solid wood need reinforcing with solid wood strips called “edge banding”. This can be done before the panel is veneered, so that the edges blend in discreetly with the face veneer, using the same material for the edge banding. Edge banding is usually at least 1/4 inch wide, offering depth for molded profiles similar to those used in solid wood construction.

Traditional moldings used to be cut with differently profiles handplanes, and there is an interesting vocabulary of profiles such as carvetto, ogee, cove, reed, and astragal. Many of these planes are now collectors’ items, and woodworkers of all ages are keen to acquire them for largely sentimental reasons.

Present day routing technology has, to a large extent, replaces the old molding planes and a vast range pf profiles router bits for shaping edges is used instead.


Most objects in wood usually require a protective coating of some kind, depending of their function and environment. This coating is invariably known as a “finish”. It greatly enhances the visual appeal of a piece of furniture, and different finishes such as lacquers, oils, waxes, or stains.

Arguably a highly lacquered finish acts as a barrier to the natural material, and this can be a drawback, especially as wood is a warm tactile material. But generally it is an advantage to apply some kind of lacquer or oil to give a protective coating to the wood. Some woodworkers believe that the wood should always “breathe” and that a fine oil or microporous lacquer should be applied; others would prefer to totally seal the wood which helps inhibit wood movement, due to the loss or intake of moisture in the air. Conventional lacquers can be up to 40 percent impermeable whereas epoxy resin coatings are up to 100 percent impermeable and can withstand excessive heat. You should never be afraid to experiment with finishes, and you will probably establish preferences, not least because of the smell which some finishes have.

Prior to finishing, the project should be filled, if there are knots, holes, or blemishes, then sanded smooth by hand or power sander. All marks should be removed with edges slightly softened, or rounded, with the sandpaper.


Fretwork is a gentle and delicate technique in which wood as thin as 1/16 inch can be intricately cut, usually to a prescribed pattern, template, or line, for decorative or functional applications. Nowadays the electric scroll saw has superseded the hand fretsaw, and its quiet reciprocating action makes it one of the safest machines to use. Compared with most other woodworking saws, the scroll saw blade is fine-toothed and is easy to install in the machine. The scroll saw can cut all manner of curves, some extremely tight, in woods up to 3/4 inch or 11/8 inch, and some machines have tilting tables allowing angled cuts up to 45 degrees to be made.


Most items of woodwork rely on glue to hold then together. Very few wood joints or wood components stay together solely by mechanical means, unless they are specifically designed to do so. The notion of a “permanent” bond is as familiar in woodworking as it is in metalworking, where epoxy glues are often used instead of welds. Modern woodworking flues are stronger than the surrounding wood fibers, and when something breaks it is unlikely to be along the glue line.

Gluing can vary in complexity from the relatively simple gluing of a “rubbed” joint (two pieces glued edge to edge and slid against each other to from a suction) to the gluing and clamping of numerous parts of a carcass. Gluing usually requires constant pressure throughout the curing period, and hence gluing and clamping is an integral process and a vital stage in the making of a piece of woodwork.


Strong, attractive, and quick to make, the halving or lap joint has many applications. It is one of woodworking’s strongest wood joints because equal portions are removed from each member and optimum fiber overlap ensures the strongest leverage in one direction. Therefore one member is not weakened any more that the other because in all halving or lap joints, both members are always the same thickness. Where they overlap, that portion which is removed from one member is replaced by the wood left on the other. However, until recently, the joint relied on nails or screws as well as glue to hold it together. The advent of modern “permanent” glues has now made it a truly versatile joint for “L”, “T”, and “X” configurations in frames and some modern “permanent” glues are quite sufficient to hold it in both indoor and outdoor applications, without any further assistance.


Some advanced woodworkers devise ingenious ways of opening cabinet doors or locking the lids on trinket boxes, etc., without resorting to metal hinges, locks, or catches. A poor quality mass-produced hinge, or crudely designed handle, will certainly let down an otherwise finely crafted cabinet. Most woodworkers however, whether beginners or highly skilled, will resort to standardized hardware, of which there is now considerable choice for most applications. Visual appeal, strength, durability, size, and specific function are important factors to consider when choosing the right hinge, lock, or catch. Once the choice had been made, you should then select the best tools and woodworking techniques to attach the hardware accurately.


In its simplest form, the housing or dado joint consists of a shallow-bottomed groove running the full width of the wood, into which the square-edged piece sits. Variations of the joint include stopped shoulders – where the groove doesn’t run the full width of the wood, so the joint is not visible from the front – and dovetailed sectioned grooves for maximum mechanical strength, which are nowadays most often cut with a router.

The joint is normally glued, and in crude constructions pins or screws can be used to reinforce it; the groove prevents the pin or screw from splitting narrow-section wood and gives the joint added grip.

There are various ways to make housing or dado joints by hand, power tool, or machine, such as using jigged-tool-guiding blocks, ir with saws and chisels or by cutting with a radial-arm saw.


A jig is a device used to hold or guide the wood while it is being worked on, or to hold or guide the tool being used often for repeat actions. Behind the art of jigmaking is the ability to improvise, and for many trained woodworkers if often means putting aside a rather rigid doctrine and thinking “laterally”, using whatever means are available. Jigs can be very simple or sometimes really quite complex. The are usually the brainchild of the individual and more often than not are quite simple solutions for very specific applications. Tis might mean the use of pins and nails, tape, a hot-melt glue gun, cutoffs of plywood, particle board, and MDF, and quick solidifying materials such as car body filler. Certain hand and power tools require jigs for specific tasks, either to make the task easier or quicker.


Jointing is at the very heart of woodworking. Most woodworking consists of jointing pieces of wood together for a variety of purposes – be it for changing shape, creating structure, maximizing strength, or dealing with wood movement. There are hundreds of joints in existence: butt joint, half lap joint, tongue-and groove, spline joint, mortise-and-tenon, dovetail, scarf, dowel joint, biscuit joint and milter.

Some understanding of the principles of wood jointing helps before acquiring the “knacks” of how to make a tight joint. A basic rule is to avoid short grain. If a joint is cut too close to the end of a piece of wood and the fibers are severed deeper across the grain than along it, the stress of the joint and any leverage bearing upon it will result in the “short grain” breaking along the grain.


It is very rare in woodworking to take the tools straight to the material without first marking the wood or setting everything out. Precision is crucial for accurate working. Often mistakes made later in the making of a piece can be attributed to poor measuring and laying out.

What is crucial to accurate laying out, whether you use a measuring stick, steel ruler, or other aids, is the choice of marker. Effective laying out is bold and precise, and the areas to be cut away as “waste” are shaded clearly. Traditionally woodworkers use a pencil or marking knife; increasingly, ballpoint pens are used.


A miter joint consists of two pieces with their ends cut at 45 degrees which meet to form a right angle. A typical example is the corner of a picture frame, but the joint can also apply to the corner of a carcass.

On its own the miter joint has no strength because the mating surfaces don’t interlock, they simply butt against each other. For this reason it is usually glued with some kind of reinforcement such as an internal tongue, or pins, dowels, or veneer inserts. Because there is no visible end grain, the joint offers some advantages; it is both visually pleasing and particularly suitable in constructions in which grooves can be later cut straight through to align in adjacent boards, or for continuous edge profiles. The glue area of a miter joint is curiously neither “end grain” nor “side grain”, but tends to follow the characteristics of end grain, absorbing the glue and not forming a very strong bond.

The miter joint can be cut with a handsaw, by various powered saws and also by special guillotines.


The mortise-and-tenon – easily identified by its “tongue” and “mouth” components. Being widely used for doors and frames over the years, its place is firmly entrenched in history.

The mortise-and-tenon refers to a family of joints, and the most basic one is the through mortise-and-tenon, which offers maximum strength as the “tongue” extends to the full depth of the “mouth” The hidden “stub tenon” joint penetrates to about two-thirds the width of the wood. Long- and short-shouldered mortise-and-tenons accommodate rabbets on one face. Haunch mortise-and-tenons are used in corner frames of wide sections to deter warping. Bare-faced tenons have no shoulders and are therefore quicker to make, but in general a shoulder all the way around offers better anchorage and conceals the tricky part of making, which is the fit of the tenon in the mortise.

The mortise-and-tenon can be cut by hand- or power-tool methods, particularly the tenon which in essence is a double-rabbeted member.


There is hardly any woodworking which does not include planing somewhere in its process, whether it is smoothing a surface flat, trimming joints true, or shaping a piece of wood to a given dimension.

Despite its simple function, the handplane had to be perfectly “in tune” to perform properly and therefore understanding its mechanics helps. There are several shapes and sizes of planes. The importance of size (length and weight) is best described by comparing the behavior of an oil tanker on a rough sea to a small tug. The longer plane will cut evenly though the undulations of a wavy board with sufficient weight to give it momentum, whereas a smaller plane will dip into the troughs and be thrown about.


The electric plunge router is almost unprecedented as a modern woodworking tool because of its enormous creative potential. It is basically an electric motor with a sharp-edged rotating bit at the end of its spindle, and its simplest function is in converting a hole into a groove by simply plunging the bit into the wood and pulling the tool via its adjustable fence across the wood, rather like a marking gauge. When you extend the range of bits to include profiled shapes of different size and variety, and then expand the function of the fence, which serves as a guiding jig by using other types of jigging device, the router does not stop at just cutting grooves and rabbets.

It can profile edges, cut through wood to any shape, cut joints, trim wood flat, make screw threads, and much more. Despite its simplicity of concept, the router is indeed a very sophisticated shaping tool. The three main elements of routing are: the size of the router, the variety of bits, and the types of jigging devices.


You will probably find that sawing is your first task in woodworking. Before a piece of wood can be shaped or featured, it has to be cut from the board. Sawing is also an important technique throughout the making process – whether it be in conjunction with chiseling to cut joints, or roughing out tapers, curves, and other features, which are later finished smooth.

Because wood behaves differently along the grain from the way it does across the grain, there are saws for ripping and for crosscutting. These are differentiated by their number of teeth and pitch angle. There is a family of finer-toothed saws with thinner blades which are reinforced by a backing strip, and these are called “backsaws”, od which the tenon saw is the most common. The technique of sawing accurately by hand has to be learned by practice.


The action of a scraper is similar to that of a chisel, producing an extremely fine silk-like shaving. Because of this the scraper can be controlled to finish a surface delicately, especially where there is wild and irregular grain which might tear under a plane. Scrapers produce a superior finish compared to sandpaper, which can clog the grain especially when very fine grits are used.

The scraper is used particularly for finishing veneered work and – because of its ability to remove very fine slivers at a time – for removing excess glue.


Most curves in woodwork are imposed onto the grain as opposed to following it, but you still have to observe the nature of the grain to obtain adequate strength. Wood can also be shaped or curved by coopering, bricking, stack laminating, saw kerfing, or simply cutting to shape from solid wood.


Woodworking depends on accuracy – which usually means working to a line – it is important to make sure the wood is accurately cut to size beforehand. This technique is called “preparation of wood” or “squaring”.

When wood has been bought rough-sawn or even pre-planed it requires squaring, not least of all because there are likely to be twists or bows, especially in softwoods which are not fully seasoned. A piece of wood has been squared when all surfaces are flat, adjacent surfaces are 90° to each other and opposite surfaces are parallel.


Turning is one of the simplest technique in woodworking, and it has enormous universal appeal. On the lathe (a quiet power tool) you can turn small functional objects such as bowls, platters, goblets, and decorative items, as well as make turned components for furniture such as chair and table legs.

The principle of lathework is simply that a the wood is rotated at speed in a holding device such as a chuck, and these come in various shapes and sizes to suit the type of work being undertaken.

A variety of differently profiled scrapers or gouges are carefully fed into the rotating wood against the firm support of a tool rest which acts as a stationary lever. These chisels or gouges are hand-held and moved by the operator to cut various shapes. The final finish can be achieved on the lathe, either straight from the tool, by sanding, by burnishing with shavings, or by applying wax as the work rotates.


Veneering is an extremely efficient way of utilizing wood. A veneer is a wafer0thin piece of the tree, in fact, modern veneers measure about 1/50 inch in thickness. That is the equivalent of a piece of heavy paper. Veneer is glued onto a ground such as particle board or MDF, typically a table top. If a table top 11/8 inch thick is made of solid wood, it is easy to calculate just how many veneered table tops could be made from the same piece of wood, even allowing for wastage in cutting.

The advantage of veneer is that it gives the cabinetmaker a great deal more wood species to choose from. Today, particle board and MDF are excellent bases for veneered work because of their stability, and this coupled with superior glues such as white or yellow make it a technique which is appropriate in terms of conservation as well as being useful, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.


Manmade boards: plywood, particle board and MDF

Manmade boards: plywood, particle board and MDF

Much of the ordinary household furniture bought today is manufactured from manmade boards such as plywood, particle board, and MDF. There are several reasons for this. First it is cheap; second, it is often veneered with highly expensive woods which in the solid are not available; and third, because manmade boards come in large width, they are very stable and will give no trouble in a warm, dry, centrally heated environment.

Manmade boards can also be environmentally friendly, in that they are often comprised of waste products from the mills, such as sawdust, bark, and cutoffs.

They are usually bonded with a resin which ties the particles together but has a devastating effect on tools unless they are tungsten-carbide tipped.

The cheapest of manmade boards, as far as the wood worker is concerned, is particle board, which is made from bonded wood chips. It’s ideal for cladding, cheap carcassing, and for making forms and templates for more exacting work.

Plywood is ideal for kitchen countertops, boatbuilding (marine ply) as well as shuttering, general cladding applications, toymaking, and molds and forms.

For really good dimensional stability MDF is the best. It will take veneer well and is very easy to work with in the field of furniture making.

There are many types, grades, and thicknesses of manmade boards, and all have very useful applications in modern woodworking. Just a few of them to name: masonite, three-ply board, MDF, birch multi-ply.

What type of manmade boards are you producing  and what are their main applications?

Planning and setting up a workshop? 7 machine tools for any workshop

Not many years ago, a powered planer or table saw would have weighed tons and would have taken up so much space in a workshop that there would have been no room for anything else. Today, the ability of small powered machine tools has made precise and imaginative work possible for both amateurs and professionals. Cast aluminum has replaced heavy steel in the manufacture of the components, and the efficiency of the motors has increased as their size has diminished. Some, such as the mini-planer-thicknessers, have become so small that they are as portable as hand power tools. Others, such as the spindle molder, can perform the same tasks and have the same capacity as some of the largest electric routers.

The variety and portability of the modern, lightweight machine tools makes planning and setting up a workshop much easier. When you are placing these tools, you must leave space for the “infeed” and “outfeed” of the wood, but, if space is limited, remember that not all these tools have to be bolted to the floor, and they can be moved into position when they are needed.

All wood working tools, especially powered items, are potentially dangerous. Strict safety procedures should always be followed, including the positioning of safety guards, whenever they are used.


Bench grinderThe bench grinder has coarse- and medium-grit wheels for repairing the edges of chisels and plane blades and touching up drill-bits. Non-ferrous metals should not be used on grinders, because they will clog the wheels. Keep a jar of water nearby for cooling, because considerable heat is generated by grinding steel.




bandsawThe bandsaw is an extremely useful machine. It can cut both straight and curved lines with the table fixed at 90 degrees or tilted to up to 45 degrees. The continuous loop blade cuts quietly and efficiently, creating less noise, less waste, and less dust than a table saw.





Hollow chisel mortiserThe hollow chisel mortiser combines the pressing action of a sharp-edges chisel with a drill-bit, which rotates within the “hollow” chisel to give a fast and effective way of cutting square slots in a piece of wood. Mortises of any width can be achieved by moving the piece along for each cut.





radial-arm sawThe radial-arm saw is a highly versatile machine that is capable, among other actions, of cross-cutting, ripping, and grooving wood.






scroll sawThe scroll saw is a fine-toothed reciprocating saw with an inexpensive, disposable blade. It is used for cutting fine, tight corners in materials up to 1 inch thick.





Planer-thicknesserThe planer-thicknesser, as its name suggest, combines the actions of planer and thicknesser. It can be used to plane the wood to create a flat surface and then, using the fence, to square the edges. As a thcknesseer, it enables the wood to be machined parallel to the already dressed surfaces by means of an automatic feed. In some models, the surfacing table swings clear when the thicknesser action is in use.





woodturning latheThe woodturning lathe is one of the simplest machine tools, and it has the additional advantage that complete objects can be made on it. The wood is precut into a more or less circular shape, mounted on the lathe – either on a faceplate or between centers – and spun at speed. A gouge or scraper against a tool rest is fed against the revolving wood.

15 power tools for wood working

In the past few decades, the development of power tools has changed the face of wood working. Not only do these tools remove the drudgery from such arduous tasks as drilling and planning, but the technology offers new ways in which wood can be fashioned while releasing the work of the woodworker or operator – with Victar professional saw, for instance. The development of aluminum casting, plastic molding and silicon chip technology has brought the power tool a long way from the simple portable drill or drill attachment. Improvements in the electric motor and advances in cutting technology – tungsten-carbide tipped (TCT) blades, for example, – have also been significant. Most recently, cordless tools have provided the operator with a new range of convenient and compact tools.


Vertical drill standA vertical drill stand will accommodate a portable drill with a 1 3/4 -inch collar and permit more accurate drilling.









Portable electrci drillThe portable electric drill is the original power tool. With a keyed or fast-action chuck, a cord-powered drill should operate on 550 watts with a 1/2 -inch chuck.









Drill bitsTwist drill-bits, which range from 1/64 to 1/2 inch and which can have center points, are used for general work.








Flat bitsFlat-bits (spade bits) make it possible to cut larger holes but using a narrow 1/4 -inch shank. They are available from 1/4 – 1 1/2 inches.









Cordless electric drillAvailable in voltage from 3.6 to 24, the cordless drill with keyless chuck can never be as powerful as its cord-operated counterpart, but it is safer and more convenient.









Electric plunge routerOne of the most versatile of the power tools, the plunge router is basically an electric motor with a sharp rotating cutter at the end. Various gigged attachments allow it to cut grooves and joints and to shape wood. They are available from 400 to 2000 watts.








Router bitsRouter bits are either high speed steel (HSS) or the longer-lasting tungsten carbide tipped (TCT). Shank diameters are 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2 inch.








JigsawThe jigsaw is a versatile hand-held tool for making straight, curved, or angled cuts. The blade moves up and down, and the cut is more efficient when the action is “orbital”. Different blades are available for use with different materials.







OilstoneThe combination oilstone has coarse/medium or medium/fine grit surface. It is lubricated with oil and used to sharpen chisels and plane blades. The diamond stone has a grid of durable diamond particles set in plastic.








Victar professional electric chainsawProfessional electric saw is used for timber bucking and log cross-cutting; in plywood mills for log preshredding; for wood part production including wood casting in closed premises with an increased risk of fire and explosion; for wood cutting in industrial-scale volumes.








Portable circular sawThe portable circular saw is used to cur solid wood or manufactured board material. A straight fence can be attached for parallel cuts. The blade can be set to different depths for grooving, and the sole plate titled for angled cuts along and across the grain. Blades are 5-9 inches in diameter.








Random orbit sanderThe random orbit sander has a self-gripping backed abrasive disk, which moves eccentrically while it rotates to create a random abrading effect. It is used for flat and curved work.









Belt sanderA belt sander uses a 3 or 4 inch continuous belt for heavy-duty abrading.








Orbital sanderThe orbital sander uses 1/2 or 1/3   size abrasive sheets, which are clamped to a padded baseplate. The action is elliptical, and the tool should be used under its own weight.







Biscuit jointerThe biscuit jointer offers a versatile method of connecting solid board or sheet wood. The blade of a small circular saw is plunged to form elliptical recesses into which compressed wood “biscuits” are glued.

23 hand-held tools for professional wood working

23 hand-held tools for professional wood workingMost woodworking tools are hand-held – indeed, woodworking is itself a manual activity. However, tools that are operated by the muscles rather than an external power source are defined as “hand tools”. When time is pressing, you may prefer to use a powered tool, but there are occasions when it is both quicker and more efficient to use a hand tool – when machines have to be set up, for instance – and hand tools are vital. in measuring and laying out, for no power tool – apart from robot – can perform these tasks.

Some woodworkers prefer to use hand tools and to “feel” the wood they are using with their fingers.

Hand tools are, in any case, an essential part of the kit of all woodworkers, and of the great pleasures in woodworking is building up a collection of personal tools.


A coping saw is essential for cutting fine, straight, or curved lines, especially for removing waste from dovetails, where a tenon saw is too large.


The try square is vital piece of equipment. It is used for marking and checking lines at 90 degrees, and various sizes are available.


A sliding bevel can be set at any angle for marking and checking angles on wood.


The miter square, with its blade set at 45 degrees, is used for marking and checking.


A tenon saw is the best general-purpose saw for cutting straight lines. They are usually 12 inches long and have 13-15 teeth per inch.


A dovetail saw is a miniature tenon saw for finer work. They are about 8 inches long and have 16-22 teeth per inch.


A marking gauge is used to mark parallel lines. The stock is held firm against the edge of the wood, while the spur is trailed across the surface.


A mortise gauge or combined mortise and marking gauge as it is sometimes known, has a single spur and two movable spurs, which can be set to the width of a mortise chisel. The stock is then held in position with its locking screw.


Handsaws are either rip, crosscut, or general purpose for cutting straight lines along or across the grain. They are approximately 25 inches long and have 6-8 teeth per inch.


Bevel-edged (bench) chisels, available in sizes from 1/8 inch to 1, ½ inches, are lightweight, versatile tools, but they should not be used with a mallet.


Available in the same size range as bevel-edge (bench) chisels, firmer chisels are just more robust.


Cutting deep slots or mortises requires a stout tool, and mortise chisels range in size from ¼ inch to ½ inch.


A marking knife, the most accurate scoring tool, is generally used against a straight-edge.


The steel ruler is not only accurate, but is the strongest calibrated tool.

15. RASP

Rasps and files are used for abrading. Coarser rasps remove stock quickly.


For accurate shaping there is little to beat the spokeshave, which can have a flat or a rounded sole.


About 9 inches long, the steel smoothing plane, with its fine blade adjustments, is a vital tool for flat and shaped skimming.


The smaller blockplane, which has a shallower blade angle, is used for delicate work.


The jack plane, which can be 13 ¾ -15 ¼ inches long, makes long pieces truer, and the extra weight gives more control.


Although they are being increasingly replaced by power tools, hand screwdrivers are useful. They are available in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from flat tip to Posidrive. It is important always to use exactly the right tip width for each task. The grip of the handle should feel right for you, too, and screwdrivers with an oval or bulbous handle are generally easiest to use.


Striking tools are needed for a variety of purposes. Mallets, for example, are used to help drive chisels into wood (mortise-and-tenon joints), while hammers are used to drive joints together or to nail joints. Mallets are usually made of beech, a very tough wood, and the striking action is slightly springier than with a hammer, which is used for sharper blows. Different types of hammer are available to suit light or heavy tasks.

22. “C” CRAMPS

Whenever you need an extra pair of hands to hold your work, you will need a choice of “C” clamps. These vary from 1 inch to 12 inches, and are remarkably versatile. 


Bar clamps range from 18 inches to 4 feet.