Laminating Curved Drawer Fronts

Furniture makers discuss techniques. October 28, 2005

I will be building a curved drawer dresser out of walnut in the near future. I will need to laminate the drawer fronts with resawn walnut. Is it better to resaw now, and put cuts into a tight stack to prevent twisting, cupping, etc and cut later when drawers are needed? Is it possible to layer in another secondary wood, hidden top and bottom by narrower walnut cuts, to reduce waste? Drawer front will be approx 36" wide.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor A :
I also am learning to do bent laminates with hard woods. I find cutting, planing and sanding the wood with a drum sander just before it goes in the bag is best. I also find that many 1/8” to 3/16” thin strips are better, as spring back is less likely to happen.

From contributor B :
To contributor A: If your resaw the stock , then thickness plane it, why would you want to sand it? I might sand the outside face of the bunch, but I wouldn’t sand on the joint faces.

From contributor A :
I find that when you simply plane without sanding you get more visible glue lines. I used yellow glue and found that even when planed very smooth the lines are still very visible. I recently did some bent laminated work in cherry and I tried yellow glue again, but was unhappy with the result as there was some spring back and the lines were not invisible, which is something I'm strive for. I decided to try urea glue, and, as it is brown, the glue line would have been even more visible. I decided to come up with the tightest fit possible. I went down to a friend’s shop where there is a drum sander and ran each piece on both sides. The results after the piece came out the bag were acceptable. Now I plane and then drum sand before I put the piece in the vacuum bag.

From contributor B:
To contributor A: That’s interesting, I wonder why it works that way? Maybe the fuzz on both sides of the joint combine?

From contributor C:
Once upon a time the masters would take a seasoned timber, square it up, draw the curve and cut out the number of draws they needed. Then they would plane and fancy veneer the face. The English in the 19th C would draw the curve out on flat stock, cut out all the pieces and laminate. Then they would veneer the face and back.

From contributor D:
Get the book Chests of drawers by Bill Hylton, published by the Taunton Press. It contains a detailed section on the topic

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Comment from contributor E:
In my experience, pieces that are a little less than 1/8 are better to use in a round. I use two of my desired wood on the outside, but these will be a bit bigger than1/8. On the inside I will use poplar, these will be a bit smaller than 1/8 for bend ability. And I use lots of clamps. Show the piece that you’re the boss and this is how you want it to be. Lastly, keep them in the mold for long as you can.