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Veneering, A Primer Course
Veneering, A Primer Course
Wood Veneers can be easy to
use, with a little instruction.
I have what I consider to be a slight addiction to
working with wood veneers.
When you start to investigate the available veneers on the market, it becomes very
difficult for me to understand any resistance to it, that some people have. Maybe it's fear of the
For some, it could be that veneered furniture is thought to be inferior to solid
wood furniture. This couldn't be further from the truth. It could be the fact that some of the woodworking rules
are invalid for using this material. Or maybe the cost of investing in a new facet of an already expensive hobby.
Or maybe it's the idea of buying the equipment, and ending up not using it. Only the individual can answer these
resistances to a new method of woodworking.
I would like to offer an easy, inexpensive way to "test the waters", to find out
if it is for you. Notice I didn't say, if your capable of it. You are.
First off some materials needed, which are inexpensive. We can start with a simple
project, which could be used for a number of thing, and even that can be decided after
completing the veneering part.
Using a small piece of M.D.F.,(medium density fiberboard), either 1/2" or 3/4"
thick, and whatever size you have laying around. Plywood will work for this too, be is not as stable as M.D.F. For
those of you that aren't aware, there is an ultra light version of M.D.F., that weighs about half that of the
regular product. The working properties are almost identical.
The next thing needed would be some veneer. Woodcraft and Rockler both sell
packs of "sequence matched veneer". This means the pieces in the packs were cut
the log, and kept in the order in which they were sliced. This ensures there will be
very little difference in the grain pattern from one piece to the next.
These packs come in various sizes, and vary in price from $ 25.00 to about $
70.00. One thing to keep in mind when removing them from the pack, is to number them with a pencil. This will help
you keep them in the same order as they were removed from the log.
The next item to buy would be veneer tape, which is available in varying
thicknesses, and also in a solid, two hole, or three hole version. The most common is a medium weight, three hole
tape. This tape must be moistened and applied to the *face* side of the veneer.
All of my cutting and matching is done on the back side,or glue side, of the
Cutting can be done with a table saw, wood chisel, veneer saw, or scalpel. When I
veneer, I usually tape at least one side of the veneer with blue painters tape, where
it is to be cut. If only taping one side, it is the back side. This way, the tape will help keep the cutting device
from following the grain of the veneer. If it is a difficult veneer, like a burl, I always tape both sides. This
make chip free joints possible.
When cutting the veneer with a table saw, sandwich the pre *taped* veneer between
pieces of plywood, which are screwed together. The best way to do this is to make
plywood longer than the veneer to be cut. Keep the veneer parallel to the edge of the
plywood. Keep the screws within the width of the finished width of the veneer. (Just to prevent you from cutting
through the screws). Using your table saw, rip one edge of the veneer. Now spin it around, or flip it over, and rip
the other *pre taped* edge.
At this point you can remove the screws on one end of the plywood. Using your
gage, you can square up one end of the sandwich. Assuming you did tape the
before putting it in the sandwich.
Once that end is cut, spin it around, hold it against the miter gage and remove
the screws. It is unlikely anything will move in this fashion. Now cut that end. I can do this in less time than I
could type it.
Now the veneer is free of the plywood. Carefully remove the blue tape, by pulling
it *with* the grain. If you go against the grain, it will chip the edges.
You know have a perfectly uniform pack of veneer, which is ready to be joined.
Decide on the pattern you want. To make a four way book match, open the pieces like a book. The four identical
corners will be in the center of the panel.
Now, working from the back side, line up the ends of two pieces. Using small
blue tape, hold the joint tightly together, and place the tape across the joint.
Pulling on the tape will stretch it slightly, and when released will pull the joint tighter together. Repeat this
every four inches or so.
Now flip it over and apply the veneer tape in the same fashion. Once you have
applied the veneer tape across the joint, run a piece down the entire length of the joint. Using a screen roller,
or veneer roller, or even a soft brass wire brush, work the tape into the veneer.
Now do the other two pieces the same way. When you are finished this, join the two
halves, using the same technique. Now, gently flip it over and remove the blue painters tape. Never veneer a
substrate with either masking tape or blue painters tape in the glue.
The next decision to be made is the glue type, and method of fastening the veneer.
In order to keep it simple, we'll consider the three most popular methods.
The first would be a urea resin glue. The best clamping method would be a vacuum
Another possibility is a caul, with a platen. The platen applies pressure over a
greater area. The cauls are spaced evenly and clamped tightly. Be sure to use a piece of wax paper between the
veneer and the platen, to prevent them from bonding together, should any glue squeeze out ontoyour work.
The next method, which is almost identical to the first one, except for the use of
Tite Bond Cold Press Veneer Glue. The gluing application method is the same for all three types of glue. That would
be a short napped roller, spreading a light even coat to both surfaces.
The third method may be the easiest for some, and that would be to apply Tite Bond
Type II, P.V.A. glue. This method requires coating both surfaces, letting them dry, and ironing them on, with a
house hold iron, set to a medium high setting.
After the glue has cured, dampen the veneer tape, and let it sit. After a couple
minutes, dampen it again, again waiting a couple minutes. Then using a putty knife or cabinet scraper, *gently*
remove the veneer tape.
Resist the temptation to sand the panel for a couple days. This allows the
escape the veneer at the joints. Install an edge treatment as desired, and hand sand,
Try to sand with the grain at all times. Remember, standard veneer is 1/40" thick. It doesn't take much to sand
Also, do not use your hand, to sand, without some sort of pad. Otherwise, you'll
end up with grooves in your top.
Now apply a finish as desired.
This will give you a very good practice run on veneering, and the opportunity to
decide if it's for you.
Many beautiful patterns can be made using veneer, that would be impossible with
Written by: Lee A. Jesberger