JoeWoodworker Veneer
The Official Website of this Non-Professional Woodworker ™

Part 1

Veneering Basics

14 Good Reasons
Vacuum Press Uses
Vacuum Press Options

Questions & Answers
Part 2a (Option 1 of 2)
Project: V2 Venturi Press

About Project: V2
Parts List
Build the Manifold
Build the Reservoirs
Assemble the Venturi
Make the Carrier
Wire the Press
Testing and Adjusting
Mods and Options
Part 2b (Option 2 of 2)
Project: EVS Pump Press

About Project: EVS
Parts List
Pump Selection
Build the Manifold
Build the Sub-Manifold
Build the Reservoirs
Make the Carrier
Final Assembly
Wire the Press
Testing and Adjusting
Mods and Options
Part 3
Vacuum Bagging

Vacuum Bag Basics
Polyurethane vs. Vinyl
DIY Vacuum Bags (A)
DIY Vacuum Bags (B)
DIY Vacuum Bags (C)
Connect the Bag
Bag Closures
Breather Mesh
DIY Frame Press

Part 4
Veneer Information

About Veneer
Veneering Myths
Backer Veneer

Veneer Glues
Veneering Tips
Substrate Materials
Flattening Veneers
A Sharp Veneer Saw
Jointing Veneers
Taping Veneers
Dealing with Defects
Curing Glued Panels
Veneering w/o Vacuum
Hammer Veneering
Iron-On Veneering
Veneer Storage
Amazing Bookmatches
Copper Veneer Guide
Paperbacked Veneer

Edgebanding Guide

Part 5
Miscellaneous Info

Vacuum Forming
Vacuum Chucking
Vacuum Clamping
Vacuum Clamp Matrix
Vacuum Infusing
DIY Vacuum Manifold
JWW Visitors' Vacs
Veneer Quality
Veneering FAQ
Veneer Glue FAQ
The Vac FAQ
Copper Veneer FAQ
Downloads (PDF's)

Vacuum Veneering - Tips, Tricks, and More

Dealing with Veneer Defects -  How to fix pinholes, cracks, voids, and bark patches in veneer

Even the best of some veneer species can contain holes and other "issues" that may need attention before or after vacuum pressing. Here's a brief list of methods to tackle these veneering concerns.

burl veneer defectsVeneer glue will typically fill in this type of defect. This can be a small problem on lighter colored woods like maple but the good news is that most of these lighter colored woods don't develop these type of holes in the first place. On darker wood species, the veneer glue fills the holes and no further work is needed. Also, you can find light colored and extra dark veneer glue at which is perfect for small holes in veneer. If the veneer has holes larger than a pinhole but less than 1/16" in diameter, you can apply patches of no-hole veneer tape to the face to prevent the veneer glue from saturating the hole and spreading on the face side.

Pinholes... Part Deux
For a glass smooth surface, you'll need a grain filler. This is especially useful on coarse-grained veneers like oak and mahogany and for many species with burl figure such as walnut and elm. There are several grain fillers commercially available. Most of the water-based versions that have been recently introduced to the woodworking market are superb and take a stain very nicely.

If you need a custom wood filler, you can mix fine sawdust (such as what you find in the bag on your belt sander) with liquid hide glue. Another option for on-the-spot wood filling is Elmer's Stainable wood glue. This adhesive can be tinted with Transtint liquid dyes to just about any color you can think of.

To apply a filler, brush on one or two light coats over any areas that require filling. This could warrant an hour-long process to cover the whole project so make the choice wisely. When the filler is dry, sand or scrape the surface smooth. Obviously, you need to be extremely careful doing this to prevent cutting through the veneer face and into the glue line. Go slowly and watch for changes in the color of the veneer. If you see a change, stop and examine the panel closely. If the veneer is too thin, you may need to do a creative inlay or color that area with a toner in your finish.

Voids (Large Holes)
veneer punchThe easiest way to repair large holes is with a veneer punch also known as a veneer patcher. We highly suggest using a spritz of Super Soft 2 veneer softener a minute or two before punching out a veneer patch to make the cut cleanly and easily.

The tool is first used to punch out the void in the veneer. Then it's aligned with the grain of a replacement veneer (preferably an off-cut from the same sheet) and a patch is punched out. Set the patch into the punched hole in the good veneer sheet and apply a small piece of veneer tape to hold it in place while being pressed. These are excellent for use with all wood species and make virtually invisible patches on burl veneers.

You can make your own veneer punch. Mike Burton's book, Veneering: A Foundation Course has an excellent article about making a one-of-a-kind custom punch.

Bark Patches
Sometimes patches of bark in burl veneers can add a nice character to the piece. You could use a veneer patcher to remove it but if you would like to keep the bark patch, just veneer the piece as usual. After the veneer glue has cured, you can dab in some thin cyanoacrylic glue (super glue) to the bark which will give it some rigidity prior to sanding. Keep in mind that this can affect the veneer's ability to take a stain.

veneer pinholeRaw Veneer Cracks & Splits
An end or edge split in a raw wood veneer can usually be fixed before it is applied to the project panel. The rule of thumb is that if the split is man-made (via rough handling, etc.) then it should be easy to fix and the repair will likely be invisible. These splits can be pulled back together with veneer tape. Simply apply veneer tape to the face side of the veneer and apply the veneer to the project using a cold press veneer glue.

Splits can also occur when a veneer loses too much moisture (or loses moisture too quickly). When this happens, internal stresses become so strong that the wood cells shrink, lose elasticity, and then separate from each other. These types of splits are more challenging to repair. The rate of success in repairing this type of split is dependant on several factors. To repair this type of split, try laying a damp paper towel under and over the split area on the veneer. Be sure to wet the entire surface of the paper towels. The added moisture will help to expand the wood cells around the split and which will decrease the gap. It's best to place a piece of wax paper over and under the paper towels. Then place a board on top with some weight on it. This weighted board will minimize any wrinkling that can occur from the added moisture. The wax paper prevents the moisture from being wicked into the weighted board. Allow this to sit for 1 to 2 hours. If the veneer is capable of being repaired, the width of the split will have decreased dramatically. You may need to do this multiple times to get the split to shrink.

When the split has been minimized, apply no-hole veneer tape to the split on the face side of the veneer. Place dry paper towels over and under the moistened area and again set the board and weight on top. Allow this to dry for a day. You may want to change the paper towels after the first 6 hours. Once the veneer is dry, use cold press veneer glue to adhere the piece to your substrate.

Mid-Field Stress Splitting
From time to time, some veneers (especially burls and crotch veneers) can develop stress splits in the middle of the veneer. It would seem that the only method for repairing these splits is to apply the wet paper towel as mentioned above. However, I've found that these splits will often resolve on their own if you use a water-based cold press veneer glue. The water in the glue causes the wood cells to expand and these hairline fractures usually disappear after pressing. If the split does not remedy itself, the glue itself will usually fill in most or all of the gap. If any part of the split is still visible, it can be filled with epoxy. Read on.

Finished Panel Cracks & Splits
Though it is exceedingly rare, a split can appear after a veneer has been applied to the project surface. The repair may not be perfect but there are steps you can take to reduce the visibility. Epoxy is often the easiest fix. Read on to the next paragraph to learn more.

For A Glass Smooth Finish
After pressing the veneer, any remaining blemishes can be filled in with a stainable wood putty. But my favorite method is to use epoxy which works exceptionally well if you don't plan to stain the finished project. The key is to use 5 minute "quick set" epoxy and add just a bit more of the hardener.

Allow several hours for it to fully harden and then scrape or sand it off. Be careful that you don't sand through the veneer face. If the sand gums up with epoxy, wait longer for it to completely cure.

Epoxy dries clear and in some cases you may find this advantageous. However, if a wood tone is needed, you'll need to add some sanding dust to the epoxy (preferably of a species similar in color to the veneer). My random orbit sander provides me with a fine powder-like dust that blends well into epoxy. Keep in mind that epoxy will not absorb stain. If you are planning to stain your project, you'll need to apply sanding dust that mimicks the color of the stain you'll be using.

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The Vac FAQ
Heat Lock Veneer Glue