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Veneer Flattening

Wood Veneer Basics 

Flattening raw veneer and preparing it for use...

Typically veneer arrives from the supplier rolled up when possible. Generally  these are longer pieces, and are not heavily figured. When you unroll them, they're pretty flat, and can be used without too much preparation. You'll want to tape cracked ends, and splits. Also, don't forget to number the sheets so you don't mix up the order. Leaving these veneers lay out will allow them to flatten. (They'll have a curl from being rolled up).


Burls, stump, and crotch veneers come in shorter pieces, simply because they only grow so big. These pieces are shipped flat as they're too short to roll, and also too brittle. They will definitely need some attention prior to use. It takes a little getting used  to unwrapping these expensive veneers and finding them full of holes and cracks.

We did a kitchen using Cinnamon Laurel Burl, which was beautiful, but had it's share holes, and cracks. When I showed the client the sample door, they loved it. Later, the man came to the shop to see the progress and make a payment. He saw the raw veneer laying on a table and got pretty nervous. He asked if the sample door came from that pile. After reassuring him that it did, he said he never would have bought it if he had seen it like that. He wasn't regretting his decision, he just found it hard to believe it could be usable. (so did I, but I didn't tell him that).

After numbering the pieces, and taping the ends, it's time to address the flaws. The first to attend to will be flattening it. There are several commercially available brands of veneer softener, which is sprayed onto both sides of the veneer. The formula is pretty simple to mix up yourself, and the ingredients are readily available.

After spraying both sides, it becomes pliable, but now it has to be dried out. This is accomplished by laying down a flat board, a sheet of paper, (we use builder's paper, available at home depot), then a sheet of veneer, then paper, covered with a flat board, and so on. Then a flat board is laid on the pile and weighted or clamped down. After a few hours, change the paper. Continue this process throught the day, and again the next morning. Once the paper feels dry, you'll have nice flat veneer. While it sounds like a pain, it's not bad.

 Raw veneer  Flattening Veneer  Flattening veneer  Flattening Veneer



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