A William and Mary Walnut Chest of Drawers – Part Four

Plain (non-oyster/marquetry) veneered carcase ends of this period were decorated in several ways; book-matched, book-matched with wide cross-banding, and quartered with wide crossbanding and narrow, contrasting banding (ash or holly, 1690-1700) or walnut featherbanding (1695 onwards) between the quartered panels and wide banding. This chest will wear the full cloak of quartered walnut panels, narrow ash crossbanding and wide walnut crossbanding.

I cut over fifty-eight feet of walnut veneer – I was having so much fun, I couldn’t stop! The veneer was toothed on the carcase side and made up into quartered and book-matched panels which I then sized. The book-matched panels were cut into strips for crossbanding the periphery of the carcase panels.

30″ x 16″ quartered walnut veneer panel.

30″ long book-matched walnut crossbanding.

3/4″ ash crossbanding.

Cleaning up the veneer and crossbanding.

Once both carcase ends have been veneered and cleaned up, their front edges will be partially veneered (D-moulding will be applied down the inner edges). The top cyma mouldings can then be applied and the top of the carcase can be veneered.


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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11 Responses to A William and Mary Walnut Chest of Drawers – Part Four

  1. Ian Wells says:

    Hi Jack , any info or pictures of the veneer cutting?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Ian, no images of the veneer cutting process I’m afraid, but picture a hefty plank of walnut on the bandsaw table with a leaf of veneer emerging from between the blade and the fence and a lot of sawdust in the air and you’ll have it.

      Some run the stock along the fence and saw the veneer off the outside of it and then shift the fence for each successive cut. I set the fence for the thickness required and just keep sawing off identical leaves.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A George II Ash Bureau – Part One | Pegs and 'Tails

  3. stevenrey56 says:

    I’ve never veneered anything but it does interest me. Why isn’t it necessary to veneer both sides of a board or is that only necessary when veneering manufactured plywood?


    • Jack Plane says:

      I have immersed myself in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British and Irish furniture for forty years and haven’t encountered a single instance where a veneered panel was counter-veneered.

      The problems with one-sided veneered panels cupping (whether on natural or manmade board) arose in the nineteenth-century, when coincidently; thicker hand-cut veneer was succeeded by ridiculously thin machine-cut veneer.

      A large proportion of nineteenth-century furniture suffers veneer-related issues and veneering deservedly gained a bad reputation as a result. Much of it ended up as land fill or in my workshop stove.

      Counter-veneering a panel whose face is veneered with ultra thin veneer may address cupping issues, but restoring a piece of furniture as it’s under construction doesn’t make sense to me.

      1/16″ (and thicker) veneer is often available in popular species from veneer retailers.



  4. palaudio says:

    In the UK I can purchase 1.5mm or 2.5mm “constructional” veneer in many species, is this a suitable material for period reproductions ? Somebody mentioned to me that “constructional” veneer is mostly used for laminations in the commercial furniture industry.


    • Jack Plane says:

      To the best of my knowledge, construction veneer is used in making plywood and is peeled, not sawn. If you have the opportunity to sift through the veneer, you could possibly locate some sheets that would pass for sawn veneer.

      I have sourced such mahogany construction veneer for the sides of a late eighteenth-century chest of drawers in the past.



      • palaudio says:

        Is it that the grain pattern can be quite bland or more to do with the working properties of constructional veneer ?

        The problem for me is my bandsaw has limited cutting height and I can only saw veneer for drawer fronts or similar smaller pieces ( upto 6″-8″ ) so this would allow me to avoid the 0.6mm stuff for the sides !

        As you mentioned for the plainer parts ( like the sides of some chests ) I could make use of it and I may be able to choose crown cut which would possibly have more visual appeal.

        Thanks J.P


        • Jack Plane says:

          Blandness is often the main issue with construction veneer. Thicker, peeled veneer can also appear ‘crinkley’ – the result of the angle the veneer is peeled off the log. It is usually visible on the surface of the raw veneer, but can be amplified once polished.
          Crown cut veneer can produce some beautiful figure, but is not suitable for all parts of say, a chest, nor for all dates of furniture.

          Your bandsaw should be capable of cutting veneer wide enough for walnut furniture up to about 1750, but thereafter, book-matched veneer is rare. See more here.



  5. Morten Bøgel says:

    Very enjoyable read.
    I have a question. When the top for instance, is made up by so many separate pieces of veneer, how (assuming you are hammer veneering) is this laid down? in one big piece hold by tape? if so won’t the tape be a problem facing down causing problems sticking to the deal? or making it difficult for the hammer to squeeze/glide if the tape is on top?
    Kind regards
    the dane


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