Antique Oak Wall Paneling

Ideas for making large veneered panels with resawn reclaimed Oak. August 19, 2008

I am pricing a job with antique oak stile and rail raised panel walls. The architect has drawn the upper panels at approximately 60" wide and 80" tall and 3/4" thick. From previous experience I know that the reclaimed oak can move quite a bit once milled. I was wondering if anyone knew of a source for antique oak veneer. I am not opposed to laying up panels with veneer and banding the edges. Does anyone have any other suggestions? I am not quite ready to go the architect and tell him the design is flawed.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A:
I did a bunch of reclaimed white oak and chestnut kitchens and libraries for several years, and made my own, but it was pretty thick since the stuff I was using was very old, partially punky, brittle and crumbly. In order to resaw it, it had to already have been glued between two pieces of plywood. The max width I could re-saw was 12" so I had to make, in essence, veneered plywood boards which I then glued up after running through a Timesaver. Fortunately, I didn't have the same architect you do, so my panels were not so large. You're certainly right about the movement. Real wood doesn't stop moving until it becomes dissolved ashes in the dirt. I would think your best bet would be to do a search for suppliers, then ask them if they know of anyone doing it.

From contributor B:
I have been dealing with antique lumber for 25yrs and have never seen antique oak plywood except in custom layups. What you may want to try is to glue up KD 8/4 antique oak in 30 " panels and have someone with a horizontal bandsaw slice 1/4" flitches. Run these through your widebelt and glue them to 1/2" MDF. You can then band the MDF with 3/4" solid and mill them.

From contributor C:
I'd find someone that does custom veneering and have them make the panels, balanced with back veneer and banded in solid for the profile. You're right, only a fool would do (or specify) solid panels that size. I'd still be wary of 60" wide moving in service. The front will be exposed to larger variations in humidity than the back. Even a small change on that size panel is likely to show. For the same reason if you do these, finish the back the same as the front.