Cutting Veneer Wedges for a Round Table Top

Here's detailed advice on how to template, cut, join and trim the pie slices for a round veneered table top. June 28, 2010

I am planning on veneering a round table top, using 6-8 pie shaped pieces of veneer. What would be the best method to cut the veneer into the appropriate sizes with the correct angles so that I leave no gaps?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor T:
CNC or laser cut.

From contributor J:
The first place I would look for info on how to do it would be Blackie and Son's "A Cabinetmaker's Apprentice."

From contributor C:
Consider having a face made and laminated to a crossband by people who know how to do this. Then you can hot or cold press it to your core.

From contributor P:
First: check out the width of the veneer leaves you are using, compared to the diameter of the circle you want, to find the number of segments required. If your veneer is narrower, consider using a bookmatched pair for each segment.

Second: make a triangular template that is slightly more obtuse than the theoretical angle of the template. If, for instance, you needed 12 segments at 30 each, you want to make a template that is 30.2. MDF is good for templates, but you have to make this very carefully: the sides have to be perfectly straight.

Third: Use the template as a guide for trimming either your individual leaves or your bookmatched pairs. Make as many segments as are required to make the whole table. Be extremely careful with the tips, and you can end up with a perfect piecrust with no "cheater" inlay in the center.

Fourth: Tape segments together to make half of the circle. The taped up half-circles will actually be slightly more than half a circle. Make sure the tips of each segment are exactly aligned.

Fifth: Take a long straight edge and carefully trim the long edge of each half circle perfectly straight.

Sixth: Tape the two circle halves together. The segments will be very slightly out of perfect alignment, but this will be impossible to see. If you have been careful, all the segment tips will meet at the center - an impressive piece of veneering.

Glue this face to your substrate, then trim to circular using a router and trammel, with center at the points. Voila. This is how we do it in our shop, and we have done some large diameter tables.

From contributor V:
Just finished one you would like. 60" round with two 23" leaves. Starburst pattern in walnut with 2" perimeter border in a straight grain. 1/4" brass rod inlay separates the starburst from the border. Edge detail is triple beaded walnut. I'm a small shop, no CNC access, determined to do this one myself. Here's how I did it.

First I made a jig for my router that would let it act as a compass. You can buy them but I couldn't find one large enough, so I made one. I took 3/8" MDF and cut two 1/2 rounds with a 30 1/2" radius. This oversized me so I could play. One of the 1/2 rounds I cut up into the pie shapes I wanted for the lay-up. Now I had my templates for lay-up.

I did my veneer lay-ups using the pie shapes templates for reference. Once I had my pie-shaped veneers taped up, I cut them to match and then taped them into the 1/2 round using the 1/2 round template. (Note: Up to this point I have not tried to cut a radius in the veneer, I've left it long.) Once I had my 1/2 round taped up I used making tape and secured the full lay-up to the 1/2 round template and used my router/compass to cut the veneer. I used a down cutting blade in the router, so very little pickout in the cut. Because I also had to add a 2" border and a brass dividing trim, I joined the two veneer designs at the center of where my brass inlay would later be.

At this point all the veneering is taped up and slightly oversized. I cut my core stock with the same router/compass, glued them up and tossed them into my vacuum press. My final cuts were done after the glue-up. The table turned out great.