Sanding crotch mahogany veneer


I am making a Federal Period reproduction of a serpentine sideboard similar to one featured in FWW Magazine by Steve Latta. The two curved doors have crotch mahogany veneer applied to a concave surface. When sanding the crotch veneer how necessary is it to get it really flat? I can feel subtle differences between early wood and late wood and I assume that this is the nature of this veneer species. I am also of course hoping not to sand through the veneer. I just wondered what the prevailing wisdom thinks and also what grits would you recommend to start and finish with? I did make an additional set of doors for practice and found that my 5" random orbit sander is able to negotiate the concave surface. Thank you for any advice that you could provide.

Mark Maleski

Well-known member
This question was posted nearly a year ago, so am not sure if the OP still needs an answer but I figured the question deserves a reply.  If the veneer is already glued solidly in place, there's no mechanical or structural need to get it flat on the show surface.  The reason for smoothing it then is based on appearance: any undulations are likely to become more apparent as a finish is applied.  Use your eye and a raking light (and maybe a single thin layer of finish) to gauge whether you are satisfied with the result; if not, grab a scraper or sander and work it further until you are happy.

My $0.02.