This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
When the same class of panel is to be laid by hand with the veneering hammer, carefully dry and tooth your veneer as before mentioned, fix your panel firmly to the bench, and proceed to lay one half; have the glue well boiled, thin, and flowing clear and free from strings, and unrendered bits; glue the feather on the side to be laid, place it on your panel, and with a tack or two to keep it in position, glue all over the outside of the veneer. Now move a warm flat iron, not so hot as to scorch the glue, over the amount of surface you consider capable of laying in the one half. On no account use water.
Study to work from the centre to either end of the piece you are laying. Having got all down, clean all glue off, putting the same in your pot for further use. Now with a hot sponge, rinsed out of water in glue kettle, thoroughly clean your tools for the next operation. After a few hours, proceed to make your joint with the other half, carefully observing your joint is slightly hollow. As heretofore, with the panel firmly fixed to the bench, the glue and iron hot, proceed to lay 6 or 8 in. near the joint, working your veneer hammer as much as possible across your veneer linable with the joint. Having got your joint good, glue a piece of paper over the same to keep all air out, and proceed to lay the remainder, in no case using water till all is laid; scrape all glue off into glue-pot, and with hot sponge clean tools as before. Should the end grain blister, wait till all is laid, then with a fine needle point make 2 or 3 punctures for air to escape. Now with a small piece of hot wood, a bit of paper between, and a little pressure, you will easily master the blistered part.
In making a star panel, or so many feathers graduating from a centre, it answers well to lay every alternate veneer, such as 1, 3, 5, and 7, in an 8-section panel.
To lay veneers on panel of foot end of bedstead, shoot the joints and lay alternate pieces, leaving them till quite dry. When dry, shoot the remaining pieces in. This will make good joints, and the curls will not shrink when dry. The curls can only be laid by hammer, and must not be jointed dry.
The difficult process of butt-jointing curls of Spanish or Cuban mahogany is thus described by Cowan : -
There are 3 or 4 ways of butt-jointing curls; but the only sure and certain way is by crossing the joint with a piece of inch deal. First flatten about 7 in. of the veneer from the butt with hot wood cauls or zinc plates; when gripped, dry the rest of the veneer carefully, it is so liable to crack and buckle with the fire; when set and cool, joint both on shooting board, keeping them in their natural position if you wish them well matched, but before shooting damp 1 in. of the wood from the end on both sides, and give them 10 minutes to swell, else your joint, when made, will be close in the middle and off at the ends. When shot to a joint, try, as directed in straight jointing, then take down on flat board, take a piece of soft wood 2 in. wide, warm (not hot), and glue on to the joint with pressure, in half an hour you can loose it and turn it over and see if your joint is perfection, if so you may proceed with the laying. This time you must warm your ground, and in the middle only, and glue sharp a belt 2 in. wide corresponding to the piece of deal glued on the veneer, fix quick with 2 hand-screws previously set to the size, so that there be no bungling at the critical moment. Now you may more leisurely proceed to lay the tail ends.
Have 2 cauls in readiness, the size (all cauls ought to be larger than the veneer, as the heat leaves the edges first, and if the glue gets set at the edges, it will not move freely from the centre; the result is lumpy, bad work), and hot as fire can make them - as before, have your hand-screws set to the size; get help, and the quicker you get them on (one at a time) the better the work. Begin at the centre, and work out to the ends; before cauling, raise the veneer and glue the ground well; see that the glue-brush reaches the central glueing. Now all being screwed up, see there is no slackness in any one of the hand-screws, for much depends on the uniformity of the pressure. Leave to cool for 2 hours. When the screws are taken off, leave the work face down, on a wood floor for 2 days. At the expiration of that time you may remove the piece of deal from off the joint by planing, and not by heat or water; when the planing gets near to the veneer, use the toothed plane. As curls frequently pull hollow on the face, it is desirable to damp the ground on both sides, and before quite dry, size the face side, and this ought to be done so that the damping and the sizing are not quite dry at the time of laying.
To ensure good work, veneering should be 2 or 3 weeks in a dry warm place previous to cleaning off. The neglect of this mars all previous painstaking. (Amateur Work.)
Cleaning off consists in planing, scraping, and sandpapering the veneers ready for varnishing or polishing. When the veneer is not excessively thin, it is planed with a hardwood hand-plane set very fine. If too thin to admit of this, it is gone over with a steel scraper, having a blade about 4 1/2 in. long by 3 in. wide, and as thick as a saw. The 4 edges of the scraper are ground and set in the following manner. First they are treated on a grindstone, to make the edge quite square in its width, but a little bevelled (convex) in its length. The burr produced by this operation is removed by rubbing the edges and sides on an oilstone. This done, a slight barb is given to each edge by means of a sharpener consisting of a hard polished steel rod, 4 in. long and 1/4 in. thick, set in an awl handle, and applied at an angle to the edge of the scraper with heavy outward strokes, the scraper being meanwhile held against a bench by the other hand. Each edge is sharpened in the same way, and will bear 5 or 6 repetitions of the process before regrinding becomes necessary. The scraper is applied to the work with drawing strokes, being held by the fingers and thumbs of both hands.
When the planing and scraping are complete, the work is finished by using Nos. 1 1/2, 1, and 0 sandpaper successively.