Custom Veneering for Sequence-Matched Cabinet Doors

When the veneer-matching requirements get extreme, it's time to outsource to a specialty shop. November 19, 2008

In a bank of wall and base cabinets that must be center-balance matched and matched in a sequenced set with continuous match where veneers are interrupted perpendicular to the grain, are they saying the wall and base doors must be matched (cut from the same sheet) and also matched to the left and right of the cabinet next to it? If they must be matched to the cabinet next to it, how can this be done when cabinets are different widths? If I buy sequenced and numbered ply, they would no longer be matched if I had to cut some off for smaller cabinets. Can someone explain this? The architect is on vacation again, so I can't ask him for the next couple weeks.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor C:
You do it by buying custom panels. Each panel is made for the specific location it will be used for. Different width panels are achieved by cutting the veneer plates at different width for each panel. It involves quite a bit more labor than the cut from stock method, but the effect is premium.

From the original questioner:
I may have to pass on this job. With the budget allowed for cabinetry, I can't see it being done in the way you explained. When reading the spec, the "perpendicular to the grain" wording confused me a bit. If the grain runs vertical, then perpendicular would be horizontal, so my thought was that the sequence match would be from the wall cabinet doors to the base cabinet doors.

From contributor V:
Matching this way is regularly done in a shop with production style veneering capabilities. Guillotine, stitcher, etc. With the proper equipment, you can fabricate the skins in a very short period of time. Without the equipment, it takes for freakin' ever. I have done a few jobs with my vacuum press like this, but only for special jobs. Burls, crotches, starbursts, etc.

From the original questioner:
I got in touch with the architect and he is willing to add to the budget for this.

From contributor G:
One of my guys said this is how they did it at a former employer. The panels were MDF core. They would start with the first panel cut to width. Glue the remaining offcut to the correct edge of the next panel. Again cut to width, glue and so on. This kept the sequence going continuous for the entire width of all the cabinets. They used a spline joint on a powerfed shaper which lined up the joint very accurately, requiring little sanding on the face.

From contributor A:
You can pay a custom veneer house to make panels and it will be cheaper than gluing and splicing and selecting for match. The other advantage to a custom size panel is the lack of waste. There is a higher cost per square foot but overall it's not that much more for what you are getting, as the waste is 0. Depending on the species, cut, and quantity, it should be in the $5-$14 per square foot range.

From contributor J:
You should make a veneer sheet a layout, and send to custom veneer place.