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JOEL Joel's Blog

Lifts and Separates


Lifts and Separates 4When you look at old woodworking books, especially Roubo from the 18th century you start to realize that while basic woodworking was done with a very very limited kit of tools, for professionals doing specific tasks there were a lot of highly specialized tools for particular operations that made hand work, especially at the higher level go much faster. Very few of these tools survive because they weren't used outside a very limited set of people, and they disappear from knowledge as hand tools became less popular and less fancy. With the current revival of hand tools we think there is a market for some of these niche tools, and we like to think that one reason they haven't been reintroduced is that the collective conscious has forgotten about them. But that doesn't make them less useful. Veneering is a case in point.

There are two basic methods of gluing down veneer when doing marquetry. The more common method is by taping your veneers to together and then when you are done gluing the entire pattern to a substrate in one fell swoop. These days this is done with a vacuum press. Another more traditional method (possibly because it dates from before tape was invented) is to glue down each price of the veneer to the substrate one at a time. The advantage of this method is that it's easier to work complex surfaces, and for veneer inlaid in a substrate it is the only way.

One of the very cool parts of using hot hide glue is that if you make a mistake in gluing something down , or if you are doing banding and want to trim to fit after the part is assembled, all you do is heat the glue a little where you want to pick up the veneer and lift the veneer away.

A very traditional tool, usually ground up custom by the craftsman is a veneer lifting knife. The knife, which purposely isn't very sharp, is not only used for lifting up veneer it is also used for teasing veneer into the right place, lifting it up so it can be moved a tad, and in general it's a critical do-dad for doing hammer veneering of small bits of wood. You can heat it slightly in or on the glue pot for faster glue melting action.

With the release of our new veneer saw this was one of the niche tools we needed to make for use in veneering our demo veneer samples and after seeing how useful it is we decided to make a nice one for sale. (update: discontinued)

Our veneer lifting knife is 6" long overall, 3/4" wide, symmetrically ground to a dull knife edge for 3/ 1/2" and made of 1/16" stainless steel. The thickness gives it a very slight flexibility without losing control and being made of stainless steel means it won't rust. It will work best with very thin machine sliced veneers. The theory is that is your veneer is flexible you need a stiff knife to control it. The knife not only gets used for lifting veneer it helps pushing and shoving the thin slices of wood, and can scrap away glue without cutting into anything, and in general makes things go faster. If you are using thick, saw veneers you need a thin very flexible knife mostly just to lift the veneer. The theory being that one or the other, veneer or knife, needs to be flexible or stiff but not both the same. Depending on how popular this knife is we expect to be offering another thinner knife in the future for sawn veneers.

We think you will find the lifting knife a very convenient addition to your veneering tools.

Note: The picture isn't distorted. Ben is veneering a diamond shaped base for a set of antlers he found while shopping for a used vise.
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