Veneer Pendant





Introduction: Veneer Pendant

About: I own a custom furniture shop doing touch up, repairs and refinishing. As a hobby i make stuff, restoring a couple of vintage campers right now, jewelry, marquetry, welding, metalwork, and some minor elect...

This is part of a series of pendants I have been working on for a little while now.  Its stack laminated veneer that you sand through to show the different layers.  

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this one not a ton of tools or materials needed and a lot of the stuff can pretty easily be replaced by something else you have handy 

  • Veneer-​ I tend to have a bunch hanging around the house and the shop, but some good contrasting colors really work well in this project.  If you don't have any lying around rockler has a nice bundle of assorted veneers here if you are looking for something specific Berkshire Veneer has a great selection, but you have to order a larger amount
  • Glue-  I like Titebond II or Titebond III, but any carpenters/ alaphatic resin glue will work.
  • Sandpaper- 150 grit, 220, and then 400 sanding sponge
  • finish-  I used a vinyl sanding sealer (Lacquer Base)  and a Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer for a topcoat

  • Clamps
  • a couple of flat blocks or clamping pads to sandwich the veneer between
  • handscrew/vise
  • coping saw/scroll saw
  • rasps and files of varying aggression
  • drill 
  • razor blade/veneer saw/ very sharp saw

Step 2: Prep and Glue Up

To start you need to pick out at least 7 pieces of veneer to glue up, you need at least 6 glue joints for the wood to be stable and not warp in the future.  I usually like to alternate between dark and light colors, to give the best contrast later on.

Once you pick the veneer you are planning to use, start by cutting it all down to a fairly standard dimension so all the pieces are close to uniform.  On more fragile veneers i would suggest lining the back with tape before making any cuts.

If you have a veneer saw you can use this to cut it down, but a sharp razor or utility knife would work just as well for these rough cuts.

once you have everything cut down to close to the same size,  layout the veneer alternating the dark and light side by side 

Now that you have the pieces laid out it is time to start gluing things up.   

Take your glue bottle and start putting the glue on one side of each of the pieces of veneer with the exception of whatever one you are going to use for the back of the necklace.  Use a foam brush or folded piece of paper towel to spread the glue in a thin even layer. 

Take the first piece of veneer and stack it glue side down on the one piece that you did not spread glue on, repeat the process for the remaining pieces.

Once you have the stack all glued up, place it between the two clamping blocks, and clamp it down good and tight.  Now you get to wait for 8 hours or overnight until the glue is dry.

Step 3: Forming Your Blank

Now that the glue is dry, you can unclamp the piece and voila, you have just made plywood, granted some pretty fancy plywood...

Start laying out the shape of the pendant you want to cut on the front of the veneer, i just used a pencil until i had a shape i liked

when you have a shape you like laid out, you can either clamp it up in a vise or use a handscrew and clamp it to a benchtop/desktop/tabletop

Take your coping saw and start to cut out the shape it's ok to rough cut it so don't be super concerned about following the lines perfectly, you are going to be sanding and shaping it further as things go along.

Step 4: Sanding and Final Shaping

Now that you have the rough blank cut out, its time to make it look a little bit better and get it into its final shape

Clamp the blank back up in the vise or handscrew and start by using a rasp or file, i like using a four in hand, gives you a lot of options in one tool, its been a go too for my toolbox for years now.

Work the edges and the top of the piece until you have smoothed profile on the piece and shaped the top to your liking...

once you have it roughed out with the file, grab the 220 grit paper and get things to more of a finished shape and then hit it with the 400 and you will be ready for finish!

Step 5: Finishing the Piece

Okay, so the piece is sanded and prepped for finish.  I like to use a sanding sealer and pre-catalyzed lacquer but you could easily go with an oil or salad bowl style finish

I start by spraying the back with a few coats of the sealer, sanding with 400 grit between coats.  Once you have 2 coats on the back of the piece and they have dried do the same to the front.  

Let those dry a half an hour or so and then start coating it with the pre-cat, do three or four coats with that scuffing between all the coats.  After about the third coat it will really develop a great luster and once it does you can call it quits at any time.

Step 6: The Finished Piece

And thats it, your piece is done.  Drill a hole through it and put it on a necklace, stick a pin on it and make it a broach, attach it to a bracelet or just let it sit on your table and admire its beauty!

I chose to drill a hole through it make a little jump ring and hang it on a silver necklace and give it to my girlfriend.  

hope you enjoyed the instructable and feel free to let me know how your pieces came out, would love to see some other pieces done like this  (  I have a bentwood laminated bracelet done in this way that i have had sitting unfinished in my garage for years...) 

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thanks! i was pretty excited when i found out, I'm already working on a few new projects to post. Nice job on your twisted rings, i saw those from the last contest and was admiring them!

I've been wanting to try to make this recently, but I was wondering what thickness of veneer you used. I found a good deal on some 1/42 inch veneer, and I was wondering if that would work and if I would have to use more layers. Thanks

1 reply

the 1/42 works great, on this one it was all either roughly 1/42" or 1/32" just as long as its not paper backed you should be good. In terms of layers, doing at least 7 should be good. good luck and i would love to see some photos of the finished project!

"you have just made plywood". Well, maybe.

It is difficult to tell by the photos and the text doesn't seem to mention it: are you cross banding the layers (i.e. every layer having the grain running perpendicular to the previous one)?

If so, then you have made plywood and yes having an odd number of layers (there is nothing magical about 7) is crucial to prevent warping.

If not (i.e. all layers' grain is running parallel), then you just have laminated veneer and you can have an even or odd number of layers.

1 reply

Hi Shallnot,

thanks for taking the time to read through and comment on the instructable.

In terms of the plywood, i understand this is not a "true" plywood as the veneer is arranged for cosmetic purposes as opposed to structural ones. The plywood comment was just used as sort of a touchstone, something to relate to and to see where part of my inspiration has come from. I make and refinish furniture for a living and the inspiration for this project came from accidentally sanding through some very thin veneer on a plywood top and seeing this effect and extrapolating this project from there.

As for the number of layers there is a reason for using the 7 layers. When gluing up multiple layers of wood or veneer you need to account for springback and warping. This can pretty easily be figured out with a formula of springback=100 x [1(n(squared)-1] so using this formula if you were to use 4 layers you would have a deflection/springback of roughly 7% and if you were to use 7 laminations you would be looking at roughly 2%. So while there is nothing magical about 7, there is something mathematical : )

I have made dozens of these pieces over the past few years and have really found that if you use less than seven layers it is far less stable, far more susceptible to warping and delaminating.

thanks again!

Nice piece of work! I like it. You should also see this:
He uses the same technic with bigger wood pieces.

1 reply

thanks D006DR, checked out his site, interesting stuff!

Beautiful. Even I understand & I've never done any woodworking. Now finish that Bracelet! I want to see it! ^_^

2 replies

Thanks Tracy, I will try and get it finished sometime in the next week or 2 and throw a photo up on the end of this, thanks for the support!

gotta like this project! well done. i will do that with my gr8 jewelry class in september. i think the students will really like it... not to mention my wife will too!

1 reply

Thanks Stumitch, talk to any local cabinet shops or custom furniture shops, always have small cutoffs of veneer that are perfect for this sort of work and most dont mind giving it up. Good luck and post some pics, i would love to see other pieces!

Nice work, that would sell on etsy.

Have you ever looked at patterned banding or marquetry/inlay techniques? If you haven't already checked it out, you might get some ideas for variations on your next design.

2 replies

Thanks jbrauer, had aspirations to make a bunch and throw them up on etsy, used my veneer press a while ago and made about a 2' x 2' sheet of blanks built a little jig and cut out about 50-60 of them, should just take the time to clean them up and throw them up there...

as for the Marquetry/inlay i do a bit of that too, i have a done some portrait work and had one of my pieces featured on a tv show a few years back ( ) have another one to post on here shortly maybe for the epilog laser contest, having a lazer cutter would make doing the marquetry so much easier!

I'll try to throw a vote your way on that contest, but if it doesn't pan out, has really good prices on laser cutters. I got the stepper driver for my CNC from them. I tried using my little Sherline CNC machine to cut veneer pieces and matching acrylic router templates for something like a veneered fan pattern, but after lots of trial and error it just didn't work that well for what I wanted. For running batches, I wonder if you could hand cut a router template for repeated operations. The spiral down-cut bits worked pretty good for me.

I like that inlaid cat, had a jazz feel to it.

- jb

Oooh! I love that layered look! I really need to start working with veneer so I can make something like this!

1 reply

Thanks Penolopy!

Really good stuff here. Good Job!