Poor Man’s Veneer Press
Start with with pine 2x4s, since the pine is springy and good for applying pressure. First step is drill holes for 3/8” bolts and heavy-duty dowel nuts. A lot of the point of this project is to get away from trying to clamp cauls after the veneer is glued. Once the holes are aligned and drilled and the dowel nuts correctly seated, rip each of the pieces in two for the upper and lower halves of the cauls.
Then the key trick to get even pressure: With only support in the center, tighten the cauls together and let them bend. Then mark straight lines on the bent cauls. Once pressure is removed, the lines indicate where to cut and plane away the inside faces so I get curved cauls.
Thus as I tighten the cauls across a board, they flatten and apply even pressure across their length.
I made a collapsible support for cauls so I have a stable surface to do the gluing and can also readily place and tighten the cauls. Because it is already nerve-racking enough to glue up a chessboard veneer without panicking about cauls and clamps while the glue has begun to set up.
Last photo is just a test to make sure everything works and none of the wood splits. Now back to the workshop to start the next chessboard.