The past couple of weeks I’ve been stalled in the shop, I’m happy to report I was able to move past it this weekend and finally make some progress.
Rewinding, I decided that I wanted to incorporate marquetry into a real project. Not just little practice panels, but a small cabinet or something. Maybe a tool chest with marquetry inside the lid. But before I could do that I needed a way to press larger marquetry panels.
The process I’ve been using involved first laminating newsprint onto the show face of the veneer to reinforce it. Then assembling a packet of six or more layers of veneer and backer materials and sawing out the design. The parts are assembled face down onto a kraft paper covered board, then flipped and glued to the final substrate. A lot of manipulation and clamp juggling, more than is good for my blood pressure.
So this project, building a press, is a necessary step for me. Or so I’ve convinced myself. Last weekend I got the reclaimed fir rough machined, at the expense of two bandsaw blades ruined on embedded nails. Out of two 14′ long 4″ x 6″ reclaimed beams I still ended up short on materials due to nails and cracks and rot. I had enough offcuts that I was able to laminate some of them to make up the shortage.
Once the scraps were laminated, I machined everything to the final size, about 3″ x 4″. I still have the two “green” replacement posts in this stack…just in case something was wrong with one of the other parts. I’m happy to report I won’t be needing them.
This was intended to be a quick and dirty project. I laid out the mortises and cut them, then rough cut the tenons, with the intention of doing a little fine tuning to get the final fit. The very first mortise/tenon fit up was a struggle, and ended up having a snug but gappy fit. All of the rest of the joints went together smoothly. Not big gaps, with a snug fit that required a hammer to assemble.
I used my power tools on the joinery, because it’s quick and consistent. But it always feels like cheating. In retrospect this probably would have been a good time to practice sawing tenons by hand. Chopping mortises in fir is not my idea of fun. The Sapele I used on the Marquetry Chevalet cut really nicely with a chisel, but my experience with fir is that it dulls tools and doesn’t shop across the grain well at all.
I dry fit all three frames for the press, drilled the holes for the press screws, and disassembled the frames so I could sand the inside faces. Then I glued the joints and cinched up the clamps to draw everything tight. I’ll pull the clamps this week and do the final cleanup so I can check this one off. I think the fir will look good with some oil/varnish applied.