Colored, and laminated woods have been on the market in one form or another for quite a number of years. They are often used by wood turners for making high quality colorful pens, wine stoppers, pool ques and other smaller items. If you think of colored plywood, that is what would describe colored laminated woods. The difference is what is used to laminate them together and there are a few products, some of these lamination or glues allow much of the natural characteristics of the wood to remain unchanged. This means these laminated pices are water resistant, but not really water proof. If you submerge them in water, the wood laminates will absorb water, expand and essentially come apart. Other version use more water-proof methods that means the woods are more water proof, but there is always the element that we are dealing with wood and even the best coatings are still covering wood that can absorb water ... eventually. I was excited to get stated on this project, something I have wanted to do for a long time and when my order arrived from webbwood.com I was all ready to go.
Because these laminate woods are similar to plywoods they are not ideal for those of us who prefer to use flat wood, as in cabinet, box, chair, shelf, table and similar kinds of flat, square projects. These laminate woods look best when they can be integrated into curved, rounded or coved kinds of cuts. It is only in this way that the true colors and laminations can be seen an appreciate, not unlike what wood turners do when they make round things on their lathes. For some time I have wanted to see what kinds of projects can be made that we can use to as features or other elements in our flat wood projects. Things like door handles, door knobes, hinges, design elements in chairs and tables, curved edge in fronts and other similar ideas.
Having never worked with this kind of wood today, naturally I jumped into something I have never done before - make a knife handle ...
Before getting started, I did do a bit of reseach into the attaching the laminate wood to the tang of steel handle of the knife. I found that rivets were most often used - knife rivets to be exact and a trip to my parts supplier fixed that part. The knife I wanted to re-handle was a kitchen knife that I have sent back to the manufacturer twice to have handles replaced and once again the plastic handle has cracked so time to replace it. I found a piece of the laminated wood that I thought would be suitable and cut it to a rough size for the knife handle. Next I positioned the two rivet holes and drilled those on my drill press to get a nice vertical hole. Once the holes were drilled it was off to the table saw to cut the wood in half, so that each piece would server as one side of the knife handle.
Next, I positioned each of the halves of the handle on either side of the tang, aligned the rivet holes and placed each of the sides of the rivets a-side and b-side in the hole, positioned them over my steel plate and whacked away with my hammer to seat the rivets. I seemed to easy. The handle was secured and ready for shaping. I covered the blade with painters tape to help prevent myself from getting cut, then went about shaping and rounding over the knife handle on my reciprocating belt sander. I was amazed that in no time the colors of the wood were showing through and the knife handle was taking shape. I sanded all the wood so that it was event with the tang on all sides while also rounding the edges. The end result was amazing, but still needed a finish on it, I decided to use Osmo, it's quick, easy and does a great job and when the handle gets worn, I can simply re-coat with Osmo. I was astounded how good the knife handle looked. Rounding the corners really brought life to the laminated wood.
Next on my list was to make some salad forks, the kind you would see in bigger salad bowls for serving up salads. By chance I selected a similar laminate wood for this second project. Each fork was to be about 4 inches wide, 1 inch thick and about 7 inches long. I decided to use my table saw to cut the coves in the forks. I installed my 60 tooth Freud plywood blade, set up an auxiliary wooden fence at a diagonal to the table saw blade, clamped it down firmly and tested the pieces to see that they would slide unabated across the throat plate of the table saw. As I cut these curves, I raised the table saw blade about a sixteenth of an inch each time until the curve I wanted was achieved. To make the handles for the forks, I set up the table saw and adjusted the blade so I would get a nice straight even cut and used a backer board to ensure each piece or laminate wood would not kick back in the table saw and I could push them through safely.
Once this was done it was over to the band saw to cut off the pieces not needed, including the tines. When these were all cut out it was a simple matter of sanding the newly made salad forks and I also covered them with Osmo ... wow, they looked amazing. The laminated wood really showed off nicely with the curved pieces.
Both of these projects turned out great and I got a much better feel for how to work with this colored, laminated wood. I still have a couple of chunks of wood left and looking forward to see other things I can do with these in the future. The supplier has a great selection of different densities of wood and different colors, all of which are nicely laid out on their website webbwood.com and they even give you some tips on the kinds of things you can make with the different densities they offer, and if you are a wood turner, it could simply be a great source for getting and making your own pen blanks or other turning materials. Another source of materials to help keep our woodworking innovative, fun and unique.
Copyright Colin Knecht