Veneer Press

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and haven’t had time in the shop — but I have been thinking about what I want to do next.  I’m ready (ready-ish) to do a more complex marquetry project that will be an actual finished piece and not just practice (or kindling).  To do that I need a better way to to be able to clamp large sheets of veneer when laminating paper onto it, and for clamping larger marquetry panels.  Juggling a dozen clamps isn’t my idea of fun, although I guess that begs the question of what is my idea of fun.  Let’s let that one go for now.

Making a press should be a simple enough job, although I’m always looking for any opportunity to complicate things.  Really any wood is OK, and I was on the verge of buying green construction lumber for it at the home center but just couldn’t reconcile myself to it when I looked at all of the knots, splits and oozing sap.  Also not my idea of fun.  While I’m trying to decide on stock I ordered the hardware and drew up an idea in CAD.  The hardware is Jorgenson 12″ press screws.  I’m actually pleased with the quality, I saw some off-brand ones and the threads were really poorly made, these are crisp and smooth.

The design is simple.  It’s a series of three square frames, each with two screws.  The lower platen will be removable so the press can be packed away and not take up too much room when I don’t need it.  I may actually make a bracket so I can hang then on the wall out of the way.  The joinery is twin tenons into through mortises.  I’ll pin the joints with pegs.

CAD model for a Marquetry Press

CAD model for a Marquetry Press

The press will handle up to 24″ x 36″ panels, way more than I can even anticipate doing right now.  The arched tops on the upper crossmember add some work, but I think they look nice.  Next chance I get I’ll go lumber shopping and see what I can find.  In the meantime I drew up some simple plans to get me focused.  It might be overbuilt, but I don’t think it’s under-built.

Plans for a marquetry press

Plans for a marquetry press


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7 thoughts on “Veneer Press

  1. Robert Demers

    Nice job, as usual. Why the double tenon, it complicate a tad the build, does it add to the strength?

    • Great question Bob. The truth is I’m speculating what “strong enough” looks like. A single 1/2″ through tenon might be enough, but it’s not *that* much extra work to make two tenons. Honestly I think cutting the arch complicates the build more, and then only for aesthetics.

      I’m resisting the urge to add any (more) superfluous decorative details…

  2. Robert Demers

    Interesting, I thought you add the slight curvature on the top beam for beam strength. I suppose it would be easier to cut all the joinery, including drilling for the press screws before you shape the beam.
    As for resisting adding more decorative elements, how about adding some inlays marquetry 🙂

    Bob, who never cease to learns from bloggers, cool

  3. Polly Becton

    I would wonder if the arc of the top beam is upside down; seems to me that the screws will tend to increase the arc bend and put the tenons in tension. If the arc were reversed, the screws then tend to decrease the arc bend and put the tenons in compression. I would expect the latter to be stronger and more durable. Wouldn’t look as good, but it’s a shop tool, after all.

    • My belief is that the top beam is more than adequate to resist bending, the arch is strictly for appearance. I’m making it out of 10/4 stock, so the finished thickness will be 2.25 to 2.375″, and the height of the beam will be 3″. Remember, I’m pressing veneer that is .020″ thick into glue. I need even, firm pressure, not bone crushing destructive force 🙂

      I could be completely wrong and see this self-destruct, but I expect it will be more than OK.

  4. I was starting to worry about you Joe. I hadn’t seen any posts or heard from you for quite a while. Glad to see you are back at it.

    The press design looks great. Functional and classy.

    Will you be indexing each press to the lower platen? If so, will you be able adjust the distance between each press? or Are you simply going allow each press to “float” along the length of the platens? Simple version of the question is this: “what is the potential of this becoming a juggling act when you are using it? LOL I’m a one man shop too and I always evaluate procedures based on two hands only.


    • I’m going to try having the frames “float”, so no indexing. That gives me some flexibility in the spacing and let’s me stow them when not in use. it it’s at all problematic in use (clamp frames tipping, shifting, etc), then plan b comes out. I could screw the platens to the frames, or add blocks to index them to the frame so it could still be removed later.

      First I have to tweak the design to address one potential weakness, and add some marquetry…

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