Mike Rand

For 30 years I've provided local builders with specialty building components that I fabricate in my shop in Narragansett, R.I. Last year, Pariseault Builders handed me plans for a pair of structural brackets intended to support a 5-by-8-foot second-story balcony. Although the plans specified custom-laminated mahogany, I had serious misgivings about the quality, workability, and ultimate performance of the rough lumber that the builder provided. Instead, I proposed laminating a thick tropical-hardwood veneer over a core of Parallam and AdvanTech.

Given the go-ahead, I located some African sapele at Dwyer Hardwoods and had them plane it to a uniform 15/16-inch (4/4) thickness. The material looked so nice that, despite this being a paint-grade project, I decided to go for appearance grade just to please myself.

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