Cabinet in solid cherry, doors and drawer fronts in black and white ebony veneer (Diospyros malabarica).

Building Process

I usually draw plans in Google Sketchup. This allows obtanining precise dimensions for all parts and the possibility of viewing the design from all angles.  This being said, I often deviate slightly from the plan during the actual building process, eg using different wood, changing details, slightly adapting dimensions depending on the dimensions of the wood I buy or how the thickness of a piece turns out after milling and planing.
 
The curved sides of this cabinet are made made from 15 mm thick steam-bent boards of cherry. Steam bending is done by exposing the boards for about 45 minutes to steam of approximately 98°C, in a steam box.  After being exposed to the steam, the boards are flexible for a few minutes, until they cool down.  When still hot,  they can be bent to the desired shape by clamping them to a mould. After a few days, the boards can be removed from the mould and will permanently keep their shape.  They are then edge-glued together.  
 
The top and sides of the cabinet have parallel grooves, resulting in a somewhat retro effect. The grooves were made using a router. I got the idea from one of John Lee's projects.  Check his site, he makes wonderful things!
 
The drawer fronts and door panels are made by applying black and white ebony veneer (appr. 0,5 mm thick) to 18 mm plywood panels.  Plywood is used because of its dimensional stability (unlike solid wood, which expands and contracts depending on the moisture level in the surrounding air, which might cause the veneer to crack, eg during summer when the air is generally more humid).  For veneering, strips of veneer (appr. 11 cm wide in this case) are first temporarily fixed together side by side using tape and then glued to the board.  Veneer is made by successively slicing thin sheets of wood from the same log, so successive strips have approximately the same grain pattern.  This allows for creating  a "mirror" pattern when arranging the strips.  
 
Glueing to the panels can be done using e.g. natural bone or hide glue (to be heated before use), or synthetic glues. Here I used a synthetic PVA glue, "Titebond for cold press veneering". The veneer should be pressed firmly to the board until the glue sets. This can be done by clamping, or by vacuum pressing.  I used a home-made vacuum press into which the veneered boards are placed on a flat surface and covered with a flexible latex membrane mounted in an airtight frame. The air is removed from between the surface and the membrane using a vacuum pump, causing the membrane to exert a uniform pressure of up to 1 kg/cm2 onto the veneer.
 
Black and white ebony (Diospyros malabarica; other vernacular names: Gaub tree, Malabar ebony, pale moon ebony, white ebony) is a hardwood tree belonging to the ebony family and growing in a.o. South-east Asia and India. The fruit and leaves are used for medicinal purposes. The  wood has a striking black and white pattern, it is quite expensive and therefore generally available only in small quantities or as veneer.  It is often used in more exclusive furniture, smaller decorative objects and jewelry, pens, guitars, and for wood turning. The species is not endangered and is not on the CITES list. There were some holes in the veneer, where there had been knots. Rather than trying to mask them, I accentuated these defects by filling the holes and then applying gold leaf.
 
Finishing of this cabinet was two coats of Danish oil followed by wax.

Pictures of building process

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Contact

Bernard Delaey bernard@delaeywood.be