No, in this instance I am not referring to Bender Bending Rodriguez, irrepressible star of the hit TV series Futurama.
Or John Bender as played by Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, the 1985 John Hughes film.
I am referring to Charles (Chuck) Bender, one of the leading period furniture makers in southwest Ohio. He used to be one of the leading period furniture makers in southeast Pennsylvania but he moved. He is late of the Acanthus Workshop and now a founding partner of 360 Woodworking.
A few years back I signed up for the inlaid stand class with Freddy Roman at the Acanthus Workshop. Problem was that I was the only person that signed up. Mr. Bender and I discussed it and decided not to make Mr. Roman to come down to teach a class for one person.
Our compromise was for me to come north and spend a week hanging out and working on skills related to making the inlaid stand. In other words, he would be my friend for a week if I paid him. Since this is the arrangement I have with many other “friends”, I readily agreed. This was not true when I was younger. Back then, my parents paid.
One day, Mr. Bender had some real work to do and left me alone in the back room with some veneers to lay up a cross banded top as if I were making the inlaid stand. I discovered I enjoyed working with veneer and cross banding. It’s like working a puzzle only with sharp tools and tape.
Come forward to present day and I suddenly was presented with the opportunity to do some more cross banding. The drawer front from the curved front wall cabinet (see yesterday’s post) needs to be 1 3/4″ thick. Since a 2 by 12 is only 1 1/2″ thick, I glued up my drawer front from two 7/8″ blanks. When the curve was sawn into the drawer front, the curve ended up crossing the glue line exposing both halves, the glue line and the differences between the halves in grain and color. It looked odd.
It occurred to me that this would be a good place to use some veneer. Just glue some veneer and cover my lack of forethought. My next thought was that if cutting and veneering southern yellow pine was absurd, cross banding with southern yellow pine would be even more absurd. Sometimes absurd appeals to me.
Southern yellow pine is not the easiest wood to work with but it is possible. Light wood is extremely soft and the darker wood is harder and a bit on the brittle side. Challenging but if we were looking for easy we would all be (insert your least favorite activity here).
The dark areas are burn through. Instead of vacuum bagging as I was taught, I was in a hurry and clamped it, badly. I used the cut offs to clamp the outer two-thirds and applied insufficient pressure to the center allowing the hot hide glue to accumulate in the center and bubble up unevenly. Sanding revealed my lack of technique as the congealing glue came oozing through the thinned wood.
Like many other things I’ve done, it started as a woodworker’s inside joke and turned out better than I thought. Then I get annoyed that I didn’t do it better although I didn’t set out to do it well. Some woodworking pundit recently wrote about always doing your best work. On some level he was right.
I’m still not going to build my jigs and templates from Baltic birch.
Or put a finish on them.
I made another drawer front this time leaving the front section as thick as possible and only adding enough wood to the back to make up the 1 3/4″ thickness. It turned out much better.
And I made enough pine veneer to open my own IKEA.