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Old 05-10-2008, 04:48 PM   #1
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Beam Veneering?


I just installed two humongous 20ft glulam beams (14"X 5.5") in my den -- for the look of it and to solve a saggy ceiling. Each one is made up of three thinner beams glued and fastened tight. Very impressive, they look, but kind of raw.

I'd like to finish them with long-grain veneer, to make them look like solid lumber, but the fastener heads project above the surface a least a quarter inch. In retrospect, I maybe should have countersunk them, but i'm sure (and hope!) it's too late for that.

Any ideas for how to apply veneer to a surface studded with hex heads? If not, any other finishing suggestions?

Thanks, fellow DIYers.

JLB


Last edited by Borges; 05-10-2008 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 06:37 PM   #2
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Beam Veneering?


You could take pieces of1x material and fur out the beams to allow for the fasteners sticking out, so applying another piece of nice-looking 1x material would be easy.

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Old 05-10-2008, 07:06 PM   #3
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Beam Veneering?


Good idea, KCTermite. Thanks. Seems obvious now. I would have figured it out myself in a couple of weeks......probably
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:17 PM   #4
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Beam Veneering?


No problemo.

One caution though...

When you say "veneer", I assume you mean a veneer of wood, which is typically very thin (1/32" or so) and sold in rolls. That's probably not what you should use for this application. I'd use 1x material.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:39 PM   #5
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Beam Veneering?


No need to fur it out either. Just cut away a bit of the back where the bolt heads protrude.
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Old 05-11-2008, 04:11 PM   #6
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Beam Veneering?


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
No problemo.

One caution though...

When you say "veneer", I assume you mean a veneer of wood, which is typically very thin (1/32" or so) and sold in rolls. That's probably not what you should use for this application. I'd use 1x material.

You are correct sir. Not the paper-backed variety that comes in rolls, but beautiful sequential flitch cut stuff. Something light in color with a long lazy grain. When I get round to laying the floor it will probably be a pale oak, although I've seen some beech with a nice pinkish tinge.

Last edited by Borges; 05-11-2008 at 04:20 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-11-2008, 07:42 PM   #7
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Beam Veneering?


I agree with NATE. As long as the hex heads protrude as you stated ( 1/4") 3/4" or more then you would have to fur as stated above. The only reason I'm asking is that home owners tend to be miss leading most of the times, Lets see a picture, Thanks
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Old 05-11-2008, 10:25 PM   #8
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Beam Veneering?


Fastener heads stick out exactly 1/4 inch. Ranks of three at 22 inch intervals along the beams. Furring sounds like the easier option. I'll probably fill the intervals with quarter inch stock of some kind and glue my veneer to that.

I'll send pictures when I'm ready to start, and also during the process. That way you gents can correct me as I go and warn me if I'm about to make a fool of myself. (My one true skill.)

Much obliged,

JLB
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Old 05-12-2008, 10:25 AM   #9
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Beam Veneering?


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Fastener heads stick out exactly 1/4 inch. Ranks of three at 22 inch intervals along the beams. Furring sounds like the easier option. I'll probably fill the intervals with quarter inch stock of some kind and glue my veneer to that.

I'll send pictures when I'm ready to start, and also during the process. That way you gents can correct me as I go and warn me if I'm about to make a fool of myself. (My one true skill.)

Much obliged,

JLB
I think what you're describing will be the easiest method.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:25 PM   #10
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Beam Veneering?


How do you plan to attach the veneer to the boards? True veneer (with no cross-grain or paper backing) needs to be completely glued down and clamped. Otherwise it bubbles, cracks, and generally doesn't stay put. I think if you want to use veneer rather than solid stock to box your beams, you should use the backed variety, and put it down with contact cement, like a laminate countertop.

I'm not convinced that doing this with solid stock wouldn't be a simpler and better-looking idea though. With veneer you're going to have butt-joints, edges that don't quite look right, and generally a beam that just looks a little fake, IMO. And veneering MAY be a bit cheaper, but it'll take more time prep and materials, and in the end could be the same price, or at least not enough of a savings to offset the extra time.

My $0.02.

Good luck, and show us pics when you're done. I'd like to see how it comes out however you do it.

Nate
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:46 PM   #11
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Beam Veneering?


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How do you plan to attach the veneer to the boards? True veneer (with no cross-grain or paper backing) needs to be completely glued down and clamped. Otherwise it bubbles, cracks, and generally doesn't stay put. I think if you want to use veneer rather than solid stock to box your beams, you should use the backed variety, and put it down with contact cement, like a laminate countertop.

Good point, Nate. I guess I'm guilty of using the word 'veneer' loosely.To me a veneer is simply very thin wood for laminating onto a solid piece to improve its appearance. I'm happy to cover the beams with anything that makes them look as if they were cut from solid wood. I thought that would be a thickish 'veneer' clamped and glued, with furring to avoid the hex heads.

What's the thinnest solid stock I'm likely to find? At what point does solid stock become a veneer? I'm grateful for all the opinions expressed here.
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:04 PM   #12
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Beam Veneering?


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Good point, Nate. I guess I'm guilty of using the word 'veneer' loosely.To me a veneer is simply very thin wood for laminating onto a solid piece to improve its appearance.
Ah yes, I see. I had the impression from one of your previous posts that you were planning to use what would be sold from a veneer dealer. That stuff is closer to 1/32" thick. I think your idea is a good one. Use solid stock to wrap the beams. If you want to get fancy, buy some flat-sawn wood for the sides, and get quartersawn wood for the bottoms. That will make the beams look much more like a solid piece of wood, because the grain will match better.

On a 20' long beam, you're still going to have to deal with a butt joint, as you won't find anything longer than 14' at a hardwood dealer. The best way to do that would be to resaw a board on a big bandsaw, and end-match it. That is, cut a board in two, and open it as if it were hinged at one end. Your butt-joint will be comprised of the same end of the original board, and that will make the best match of color and grain pattern.

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What's the thinnest solid stock I'm likely to find? At what point does solid stock become a veneer?
I'm not sure about the semantic issue, but it doesn't really matter to you. The relevant issue for you is at what thickness will the wood be stable enough to use as you intend it, and not crack or warp. I think anything less than 1/4 will be difficult. But the fact is, you're not going to find anything thinner than 3/4" surfaced wood or 4/4" rough-sawn wood at a lumberyard or hardwood dealer. If you want something like 1/4" white oak, you'll need to find someone who can resaw and plane it for you. A furnituremaker, or millwork shop should have a big enough bandsaw for that, and you could probably hire them to do it. Some hardwood dealers might also be able to do it. (I've got a 20" bandsaw that can resaw to 12", but I'm not sure a drive to downeast maine is very economical these days. )
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Old 05-13-2008, 02:24 PM   #13
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Beam Veneering?


You know that sinking feeling you get when your project turns out to cost at least double what you allowed for? I've been getting it daily since I started on my retirement project: remodeling our enormous den to turn it into the ultimate dream library (complete with floor to ceiling bookcases and a ladder on wheels.)

So far I'm within budget, only just, and a fine hardwood finish to the ceiling beams is no longer a smart idea. Right now I'm thinking the best plan would be to use ponderosa pine or similar. The wearability of the wood won't matter unless someone invents anti-gravity boots. I can get 1" X 14" x 16' boards at a reasonable price, and I'll artistically finesse the butt joints somehow.

Thanks Nate for your detailed advice. I can tell you are a man of taste and great wealth.
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Old 05-14-2008, 02:22 PM   #14
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Beam Veneering?


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Originally Posted by Borges View Post
You know that sinking feeling you get when your project turns out to cost at least double what you allowed for? I've been getting it daily since I started on my retirement project: remodeling our enormous den to turn it into the ultimate dream library (complete with floor to ceiling bookcases and a ladder on wheels.)
I definitely know the feeling! Sounds like a nice project you're working on. The beam sounds like it will fit right in with the decor.
Quote:
Thanks Nate for your detailed advice. I can tell you are a man of taste and great wealth.
You're welcome, and thanks. I'm afraid I'm short on the wealth part, but I do like to build nice stuff. I try not to skimp on the wood when I can, and when I'm building furniture for a customer I just don't give them the option of using substandard materials. It's just not worth it for them or for me, to spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of furniture, and save a hundred by using some veneered plywood somewhere, or a less spectacular hardwood in an important place.

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