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Old 10-26-2010, 01:20 PM
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What's the best way to cut wood veneer?

The cabinets in my kitchen have what I think is a cherry veneer. I have no idea what the wood under that is.

I needed to cut about 3/8ths of an inch off the skirt of one cabinet to make room for a countertop dishwasher. I always wanted a dishwasher but had no intention of doing a complete remodel on my 50 year old kitchen in order to get one.

Anyway, as you probably know, the problem with wood veneer is that it cracks and splinters more easily than an egg shell. I figured that using a circular or reciprocating saw would be a receipt for disaster (look for my new disaster cook book from Harper-Collins later this year - kidding). So I had what I thought at the time was an absolutely brilliant idea. I'd mark off the area to be trimmed and I would drill about a hundred or so holes along that line. The idea was to create a row of perforations through both the veneer and the underlying wood. Then I would take a wood chisel and neatly slice off the bottom 3/8th's.

Well, it has worked reasonably well so far. I started with the side of the cabinet where the wood, apparently, is quite thin - maybe 1/8 - 1/4 inch. The door however is proving more challenging. The wood there is a bit over 3/8th's thick and the perforations don't seem to be giving me much of an advantage.

At this point I suppose I'm committed - or at least should be perhaps (???) - and I was wondering if there isn't an easier and possibly neater way to cut wood veneer.
Old 10-26-2010, 01:38 PM
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Location: Vancouver, BC
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I've put a strip of painters tape along the line I wanted to cut and used a jig saw with a very fine blade. The tape keeps the counter top from splintering.
Old 10-26-2010, 01:41 PM
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pre-cut through the veneer with a utility or X-acto knife. Make sure the saw blade stays just to the scrap side of the knife cut.

Learned this trick from a guy who did picture framing.
Old 10-26-2010, 01:44 PM
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What they said. I also wonder if a Dremel cutoff wheel would work, but that would be more tedious than the jigsaw option.
Old 10-26-2010, 01:47 PM
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a dremel would probably cause the wood to burn. I've used the painter's tape trick a couple of times which seemed to work.
Old 10-26-2010, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
pre-cut through the veneer with a utility or X-acto knife. Make sure the saw blade stays just to the scrap side of the knife cut.

Learned this trick from a guy who did picture framing.
This is my suggestion as well. Veneer is thin enough to cut with a utility knife or razor blade. Clamp a metal straightedge on as a guide if practical. I haven't done exactly what you're trying to do but I did work with some veneer once and it is thin.
Old 10-26-2010, 02:20 PM
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Clamping a metal straightedge is likely to scratch the veneer. I'd go with painter's tape, I have seen that trick before. Also a trim-cutting blade (on a circular saw or jigsaw) will give much less chance of splitting the veneer since it has much finer teeth.
Old 10-26-2010, 02:46 PM
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Thanks for all of the great ideas.

Something I didn't mention but probably should have is that I'm doing this in situ as it were. I didn't have much of a choice with the side wall of the cabinet, but for the door, I could have taken that down. The way it looks now, I might have to do that anyway. I think I have some "frog tape" (???) - I think that is basically painters tape.
Old 10-26-2010, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dzero View Post
I think I have some "frog tape" (???) - I think that is basically painters tape.
Yes, that is the same thing. You just want a tape that will not leave a sticky residue when you peel it of.
Old 10-26-2010, 02:53 PM
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How about combining the methods?:
(1) Put masking tape on the veneer;
(2) Clamp a steel rule on top of the masking tape (where it won't scratch the veneer;
(3) Cut the veneer along the line with a knife;
(4) Remove the steel rule;
(5) Cut with a jigsaw;
(6) Remove the masking tape.
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