We are now going to make 3 types of wood blanks to carve similar trays out of and compare how they look. We are going to make the following trays:

  • 20 degree Veneer Tray
  • Wavey Veneer Tray
  • Straight Veneer Tray

I thought it would be fun to make some trays that are almost identical in shape, but different in composition so we can see how different they look once completed.

20 Degree Veneer Tray

Creating the Cauls

To glue pieces of veneer together at 20 degrees, I needed to make a couple pieces of wood that would hold them at this angle. These clamping cauls also help distribute the clamping pressure on the pieces of veneer.

To make these I glued several pieces of veneer together and then ripped them in half at 20 degrees on the table saw. I marked the pieces so they would be used in the clamping process in the same way they were glued together. This helps keep the glue up nice and square.

I added packaging tape to the face of the wood that was going to be pressing against the veneer so glue cleanup would be easy.

Cutting the Veneer Strips

The veneer I used for this project came from Cousineau Wood Products and is made for making skateboards. It comes in 10” wide strips that are 41” long and 1/16” thick. To cut it into strips to be glued together I first cut off a piece of veneer that was a little longer than the wood blank I wanted to make.

Note that the edges do not have to be perfect on these strips as we will be running these through a planer to get a nice smooth surface. This process will remove the rough edges. The strips of wood that I cut were 2” wide. For perspective, the final wood blanks I had to cut on the X-Carve CNC were 1.25” thick.

Veneer glue up in sections

Gluing up the veneer pieces is fairly easy. You just want to take your time and have all of your materials ready. This process does use a lot of wood glue so you should have a little more than you anticipate ready to use. One thing I found that makes this process faster and more enjoyable is using a glue roller like the one you will see in the video. This one is manufactured by Rockler. As you squeeze the glue from the bottle the glue gets spread out over the strips of veneer.

I used Titebond Original wood glue for these and if you have used it before you know you really only have about 8 to 10 minutes before the glue starts tacking up. For that reason I split the overall glue up of the veneer sections into multiple pieces. I found that I could glue enough pieces together to make a piece up to 1-3/8” thick. I made multiple pieces this size and then glued those sections together to get the overall wood blank.


Next I go through the carving operation. I carve the tray recess out first using the bowl bit. Then I switched to a 1/4″ downcutting spiral bit and cut the outline of the tray. Since I am using double sided CNC tape I did not use tabs for the cutting process when cutting the outline.

Rounding the Edges

After carving on the CNC I rounded the edges of the trays using a router table with a 1/8″ radius roundover bit with a guide bearing. When the trays are deep enough I round over the inside and outside edges of the top and the bottom edge as well.

If the tray is not deep enough to allow the inside edge of the top to be rounded over with the router bearing conflicting then I just do the roundover on the outside edge.

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