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Joinery, cabinetwork & furniture

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Question: What are the main reasons for loosing veneer defects in furniture? We suffer this specially in veneers like Russian Walnut, French Walnut, Circassian, Cluster Maple, Olive Ash Burl and Mahogany Plates 12, 13, 31. We use hot press with urea-formaldehyde.

Answer: When bubbles or loose patches appear in veneered surfaces it's often a moisture-related problem. Urea formaldehyde is an excellent adhesive but in a hot climate it will have a shorter assembly time. Perhaps the glue is curing too quickly and leaving patches where adhesion is poor. If a water-based coating is applied it could cause enough stress in the veneer to create bubbles, or even high humidity outside the press might have this effect. We don't know of any problems with the particular veneer types you mention, so it seems more likely to be process-related. Try a shorter assembly time and see if it overcomes the problem. Also be careful that the moisture content of the veneers is tightly controlled, and not causing the veneers to bubble. I'm sorry we can't be more specific, but perhaps these general comments will help.

Question: Which is the better wood for Kitchen cabinets? Maple, Cherry, Oak or Birch?

Answer: The four woods you mention are suitable for kitchen cabinets - it's really a question of the look you want. All have similar hardness ratings - white oak is a little harder on average than the others, but there's not much in it. Just make sure you choose a hardwearing finish that can be wiped clean without damaging it, for example polyurethane. We don't recommend oils and waxes in kitchens. They look nice in the short term but don't stand up to moisture too well.

Question: Is there a way to reliably use wide (eg 200mm) strips of solid timber in the top of a bathroom cabinet, to give the appearance of a single piece of timber whilst avoiding problems with "cupping"? What is the recommended approach for bathroom tops?

Answer: Wide planks can be edge-glued to make up benchtops, but unless you are a skilled handyman it might be best to have the work done by a joinery shop. If you intend to do it yourself, make sure the timber is properly dried to a moisture content of 10-12% and use a water-resistant glue. It is also very important to install and seal the top correctly. The sealer must be applied to all surfaces, including edges, forming a complete envelope. A detailed guide is available on the net and you can download it via this link http://www.dgi.com.au/bench2.html. If you follow the recommendations, there should be no problems with cupping.

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