Strip Laminate Tips
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Tips for making Veneer Strip Laminate Booms

OK, take this what it is worth. Free advice is worth what you paid for it. It's a few things I've learned and is here for experimentation purposes only. Don't blame me if your first few attempt's don't turn out as you had hoped. Learn from your mistakes and keep at it.

 

    Don't get in a hurry. This is a process that takes a long time and will reward you with beautiful results once you get your own process down. Everyone will discover methods that work for them and should use whatever works for them.

    </1L>I've been using Tite Bond II glue because it is water based and easy to clean up, but you will need to thin it a bit. Tite Bond said it could be thinned 5% with water, but I've been going more for 10% with no problems.

     

    OK, poly glues clog up sandpaper more than epoxy, but it is a trade off. I use a brass brush to clean the belt before using the art gum thingy you can buy for cleaning belts. Look for cheap charcoal grill brushes at the discount store. They work great.

    DO NOT USE PAPER (or anything else) BACKED VENEER. I've told you, so you can't say you were not warned.

    Don't buy veneer with a fancy grain. You will pay big bucks for it and you won't be able to see any grain. Color is the thing to look for. Save the fancy grain stuff to face your multi-lap rangs with. It's great there.

    You need to make sure that the veneer is rough sanded so that the glue will have some tooth to cling to. Some veneers don't need anything, but some of the veneer's I've gotten have either been sanded or cut with very smooth blades and need some roughing up.

    Coat the form liberally with melted Gulf Wax to keep your blank from becoming a permanent part of the form.

    Mix up more glue than you think you will need and brush on liberally with a 2" wide brush. Because veneers are thin, it takes quite a few strips to build up a rang. You will discover that the strips glued first will be trying to set up while you are still brushing the last few.

    I've made a jig to stack the strips in to keep them square while I'm glueing other strips. It's just a partial box made from a piece of plywood 4"x26" with one end and a side. This gives me a square side and corner to nest the pieces and keep them in order.

    Be sure to prestage everything you will need before you start splashing glue around. Have the form ready, clamps at hand, and a wet towel and bowl of water handy. Better have the bottle of glue near by because I almost never mix enough glue the first time.

    Have all the strips stacked in the order you plan to lay them up in so that you can just grab, glue, and stack.

    Make the blank several layers thicker than the final desired shape.

    You will need something sturdy yet flexible to place between the last piece of veneer and the clamp jaws. I have used PVC and aluminum strips. The aluminum keeps it's shape while you are clamping, which is good, but needs rebending for the next batch. The PVC is a more difficult to lay down, but is easier to reuse. If you don't do this, you will end up with uneven clamping and a wavy blank.

    In the beginning it is good to go through a dry run to see what you are forgetting. If you have to leave during the middle of the process to find out what the explosion you just heard was, you will come back to a useless mess. (Yes, it happened to me. A transformer exploded on a power pole behind my house and started a grass fire.)

    If you are doing a complex shape, you want to dry run the clamp positioning. You will be amazed at how difficult it can be to get the clamp handles out of the way of each other. Then again, you may be much smarter than I am and not have any trouble.

    You may have trouble getting enough clamping pressure if your veneer is very thick or you are trying to do the whole thing in one whack. If so, make the stick in sections, or buy real strong C-clamps and use a pipe wrench. Cheap Chinese C-clamps will twist and become useless. I've got a bucket full of them. Then there is also the risk of "glue starving" if you use too much pressure. Sorry, there is no one good answer, just go for it.

    Start clamping from the inside of the elbow and work out toward the tips.

    On complex shapes, or with complex inserts, glue in stages. Let dry, remove from form, sand edges and glue on the next section.

    For complex shapes, like the Voyager, you may need to soak the veneer strips in water and clamp up and let dry to preform them to the shape. Most shapes don't require this.

    Let dry for several days in the clamps, then remove from form and let set a week. The glue deep down takes a long time to dry.

    Get some good cloth backed sandpaper, J weight. It does a great job on sanding these as well as any other boom and it lasts MUCH longer than the paper backed stuff.

    I once showed a guy at work one of my S/L rangs and his comment was "Who would do that?" I didn't have a real snappy answer to that question. If you decide to make some yourself , just remember it is a labor of love and enjoy your creations. Regular folks won't understand at all.