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

Topics General Veneering
Total Questions and Answers: 36
Additional Topics: Click Here
Last Update: 6/5/14

Veneering Questions
  1. What is a backing or balance veneer and why do I have to use it?
  2. What is paper backed veneer and why should I use it?
  3. My panel warped when I removed it from the press. Why?
  4. Where can I learn more about veneer adhesives?
  5. Will veneer softener affect the ability of the veneer to take a stain and will the softener work on thick veneer?
  6. How do I veneer with copper sheeting?
  7. How do I use a veneer saw?
  8. What is veneer edge banding?
  9. Can a vacuum press be used for veneering over a bending form?
  10. I've had some panels come out of the veneer press looking perfect. Then a few minutes later, the veneer began to bubble/ripple. Why is this happening?
  11. The veneer tape left markings on the veneer that didn't show up until I applied the stain. What causes this? How can I prevent it?
  12. I don't have a vacuum press. Is there any other way to veneer a panel?
  13. Is there a way to prolong the life of a veneer saw?
  14. Can I leave the veneered panels in the press overnight?
  15. After my veneer arrives, what is the best way to store it?
  16. I'm using a paper backed veneer but the veneer glue isn't giving me a good bond. Any suggestions?
  17. What types of material can I apply veneer to?
  18. Why would I buy a complete vacuum press system if it's so much cheaper to use the Heat Lock glue and a clothes iron for veneering?
  19. What is that mirror jig that I've seen in books that makes the veneer patterns?
  20. There are so many grain types and figures in veneer. Where I can learn more about them?
  21. I can't find 1/8" thick veneer. Why is it so hard to find?
  22. Is it ok to use a paper backed veneer as the "balance" or backing veneer on a panel if the face veneer is unbacked?
  23. When I buy veneer sheets, how do I order them so that they can be bookmatched?
  24. How do I go about sanding a veneer?
  25. How do I minimize bleed-through when using breather mesh?
  26. How do I make a large panel with a burl veneer if I can't find a sheet that is large enough?
  27. Are there any good books about veneering out there?
  28. Do I have to use a balance/backer veneer if I use a paper backed veneer on the front of the panel?
  29. If my panel doesn't come out right, how do I remove a veneer from the substrate?
  30. Can I bond wood veneer to a solid wood substrate?
  31. How can I determine if my project is too wide or tall for a vacuum bag?
  32. How do I veneer over my plastic laminate countertops?
  33. What adhesive should I use to apply a paperbacked veneer to a project that has a clear coat finish on it?
  34. Did you know that other companies and websites are stealing images and text from the JoeWoodworker and VeneerSupplies.com websites?
  35. What should I do if I can't find a species of edge banding that matches my face veneer?
  36. How do you protect the veneer edges that are to be trimmed after pressing from being crushed while in the vacuum bag?
  37. How do I trim excess veneer from my panel?

VQ 1: What is a backing or balance veneer and why do I have to use it?

A backer veneer is often called a "balance" veneer because it balances the number of layers on the plywood (counting outward from the center) or other substrate. Since you are adding a veneer layer to the face, you also need to add a veneer layer to the back side of the panel to prevent warping.

The normally visible side of a veneered panel is often called the "face" side and it's an important part of the project look. The back side of a panel is often forgotten despite the fact that it is a critical part of a successful veneer project. The veneer used on this (often) unseen side is called a "backing" or "balance" veneer.

These are usually straight-grained hardwood veneers that are inexpensive and easy to work with. A balance veneer does not have to be a lesser grade veneer if the back of the panel will show. In that case, most craftsmen would choose to use a veneer of similar color, grain, and species. But when the back side of the panel will be unseen, a backer grade veneer is the way to complete the panel without spending a fortune.

More information is available at this link.

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VQ 2: What is paper backed veneer and why should I use it?

Paper backed veneer is exactly what the name implies. It's a real wood veneer permanently bonded to a paper backing. The backing is generally available in a 10 and a 20 mil thickness.

A 10 mil backing is best for most projects . However, a 20 mil version is available for situations where the substrate is less than perfectly flat. In this case, the extra paper thickness allows the veneer maintain a more consistent look after application. Keep in mind that the 10 and 20 mil thickness is a reference to the thickness of the paper backing, not the veneer face.

Check out this link for more information.

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VQ 3: My panel warped when I removed it from the press. Why?

The warping happens when the veneer (which has slightly expanded from the moisture of the glue) begins to shrink as the adhesive dries and cures. The glue has its grip when the panel begins drying so it is pulling the project board in the direction of the shrinking movement. When the pull is even on both sides, the panel stays flat. Think of it as a race between both sides of the panel. You want both sides to arrive at the finish line at the same time.

Click here to learn how to avoid warping.

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VQ 4: Where can I learn more about veneer adhesives?

Check out our Veneer Glue FAQ page.

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Veneer Softener: Super Soft 2VQ 5: Will veneer softener affect the ability of the veneer to take a stain and will the softener work on thick veneer?

Super Soft 2 veneer softener will not affect the ability of the veneer to accept a water-based or solvent-based stain.

The level of softening affect depends on several factors including thickness, species, grain type, and moisture content. Thickness is one of the most important factors. I've tested the veneer softener on some thicker veneers and had some success.

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Applying Copper GlueVQ 6: How do I veneer with copper sheeting?

There are a couple of options when veneering with copper. The ideal method is with a vacuum press but solvent-based contact cement will also work. Our Copper Veneer Guide discusses both options.

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VQ 7: How do I use a veneer saw?

Cutting veneer with a veneer saw is a simple process. Place a straight edge along the projected seam/cut line, and lightly saw into the veneer (along the entire length of the seam) until the cut is complete. It is imperative that the straightedge be absolutely true. While sawing the veneer, place adequate pressure downward on the straightedge. You should also make certain to hold the saw 90° to the veneer face by keeping it firmly pressed against the straightedge. For more details, please click here.

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VQ 8: What is veneer edge banding?

Edge banding is real wood veneer that is pre-sanded and available in a 7/8" or 15/16" width. This is ideal for 3/4" thick sheet goods such as plywood and MDF because it allows a bit of overhang and makes it easy to trim it to a flush edge. It is very easy to work with. The only tools required are a clothes iron and an edge-trimming tool. Any cheap clothes iron will work but I've found that the smaller travel size versions are the easiest to work with. For more information about edge banding and its application, see our Edge Banding Guide.

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VQ 9: Can a vacuum press be used for veneering over a bending form?

I have to admit that I don't so much bent or curved veneer work. However, I have received countless emails from builders of this press who have successfully completed projects of this caliber. Each has said that as long as there is 20" of vacuum (which is about 1,400 lbs per square foot), curved work can be completed with this system. Check this page for pictures. They also recommended using polyurethane bags instead of the vinyl if there are highly exaggerated curves.

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VQ 10: I've had some panels come out of the veneer press and look perfect. Then a few minutes later, the veneer began to bubble or ripple. Why is this happening?

The most common cause is applying too much glue. I highly recommend using a glue roller to eliminate this problem. The surface should look evenly painted with glue but not dripping wet. The roller allows you to accomplish this easily.

Reason two for the bubbles/ripples is inadequate pressure while the panel is being pressed. This is very uncommon in a vacuum press but it does happen from time to time. To remedy this, simply adjust your vacuum level slightly higher. If you are using 18" of Hg pressure, bump it up to 20" Hg. However, if you are not using a vacuum press, you need to find a way to add additional pressure to the panel while you are clamping it.

The third cause of bubbling is from pressing the panel for too long. Follow the instructions on the glue bottle label and do not exceed the recommended clamping time. This is especially critical for Better Bond Cold Press veneer glue. Never exceed 60 minutes of clamping time for this adhesive. Wood cells expand as the glue begins to saturated the surface of the veneer (from the water in the glue). Despite the tendency of the veneer to buckle with this added moisture, the press keeps the panel flat. The problem is that the veneer still wants to unload the buckling pressure immediately after it comes out of the press.

Tips for problem panels

  • If you are using MDF as your substrate, be sure to scuff sand it with 80 or 100 grit sandpaper so it will absorb the glue. The penetration of the glue into the substrate (and veneer) is the key to the strength of the bond.
  • One problem with a panel in the press for too long is that mold can begin to form. A few folks have left panels in the press overnight and found the veneer covered in mold the next morning. This is very common in cherry and maple but can be easily cleaned up with wood bleach (oxalic acid).
  • If the mold is a severe problem and you can't leave it in the press for the 1.75 hours, try placing a heating blanket around the vacuum bag during the pressing. This will significantly reduce the press time (to about 35 minutes).

Fixing Veneer Bubbles
Thanks to Steve Worzman

  1. If the bubbles are still present after a pressing, you can sometimes iron over the ripples and re-flow the glue to a certain extent. Place a cotton or flannel cloth over the ripple and iron it with a clothes iron on the medium-high setting. Do this soon after the panel is pressed. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to get the ripples out. Keep in mind, that this does not always remove the ripples completely.
  2. If step one does not fix the bubbles, you can raise the bubbles further by wiping the panel with water. Wait a few minutes and wipe excess water with a paper towel.
  3. Find the bumps and draw a circle each of them with chalk.
  4. Glue Injector Mix up some veneer glue so that it is thin enough to go through the tip of a plastic glue injector. You can add up to 5% water without affecting the integrity of the adhesive.
  5. Using a razor knife, slit the bubble open. Be sure to follow the grain or if the veneer is a burl, follow the curve of the burl grain.
  6. Flip open the cut slightly with the razor knife and inject the glue under the veneer on each side of the cut. Since the veneer was previously dampened, it should have some flexibility.
  7. While wearing gloves, squeeze all excess glue out of the blister.
  8. Then use a clothes iron (set to high and with no steam) over the blister, squeezing any more glue out, and apply pressure. PPR glue dries very quickly with heat but regular veneer glue is fine as well. In less than 15 - 30 seconds the bubble will be glued down flat. If using a PPR glue, be sure to wear goggles and a chemical filter face mask as the heat cure liberates formaldehyde gas.
  9. Sand off excess glue and finish the panel.

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VQ 11: The veneer tape left markings on the veneer that didn't show up until I applied the stain. What causes this? How can I prevent it?

The cause of the marking is the adhesive on the veneer tape sealing the wood cells and thereby preventing absorption of the stain. The key is to prevent the tape's glue from deeply penetrating the surface of the veneer. The penetration is frequently caused by excess moisture on the tape during application. The tape shouldn't be soaked. Instead it should be just lightly moistened. Over-dampening the veneer surface when removing the tape can also cause the same problem.

  • You can also prevent the veneer tape from leaving residue on the finished panel by dabbing the tape with a wet (but not soaking) paper towel. Give it a minute and the tape should loosen up and easily peel off.
  • You can then wipe down the area with denatured alcohol to remove any residual tape adhesive but let the panel thoroughly dry before sanding it. Otherwise any remaining adhesive will booger up the surrounding veneer when you sand the panel.
  • Some woods have a tendency to develop dark spots from excess moisture around the veneer taped areas. This can be prevented in most cases by using distilled water to moisten the veneer tape for application.
  • Though it is uncommon, lightened areas can occur when veneer tape is removed. This is caused by the veneer tape which blocks UV light (from the sun or even fluorescent lighting) which normally causes the veneer to darken. This can be prevented by covering the veneered panel with a blanket or piece of cardboard until the veneer tape is removed.

Quick Stitch Veneer TapeIf you're using the 3 hole tape, you can place it on the glue side of the veneer. That will eliminate the problem all together.

Also consider using a waterless veneer tape such as the one offered at VeneerSupplies.com. This type of veneer tape does not leave any residue on the veneer face.
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VQ 12: I don't have a vacuum press. Is there any other way to veneer a panel?

Here are some other ways to veneer a panel.

  1. You can use the Better Bond cold press veneer glue and sandwich the veneered panel between to thick, flat boards (called platens) and put as many clamps as possible around them. The key is to evenly distribute the pressure so a thick platen (minimum of 1.5") is needed. Be certain to line the platens with wax paper so the panel doesn't get stuck inside!
  2. Try iron-on veneering with Heat Lock. Click here for details.
  3. You can also apply veneer in the traditional method which uses hot hide glue. Visit your local library for more information. There are several vintage books that cover this topic.
  4. Paper backed veneers can be applied with contact cement or Flex-Pro glue.

For more information, check out this link.

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VQ 13: Is there a way to prolong the life of a veneer saw?

I've been using the same veneer saw for several years and I've found a few ways to maximize the life of the blade.

  1. Make sure you start with a good quality veneer saw that has a proper grind.
     
  2. Cut the veneers on a non-abrasive surface such as plywood or MDF. Try to avoid cutting on hardwoods and plastics. I have some large sheets of cardboard that I routinely use for trimming veneer. This not only protects the saw blade but also my work bench top.
     
  3. Most decent veneer saws have a grind that allows them to cut only on the pull stroke. If you try cutting on the forward (push) stroke, the blade does not cut and the teeth wear down faster.
     
  4. Cut with a rolling motion on the blade so that you use more parts of the saw. At the beginning of the pull stroke, the back end of the blade is contacting the veneer and the saw handle is a bit low. Gently roll toward the center of the blade as you begin sawing across the veneer. As you reach the end of the cut, roll up to the front of the blade. The saw handle will be slightly higher at this point. It's a very natural feeling and it comes about easily with just a few practice strokes.

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VQ 14: Can I leave the veneered panels in the press overnight?

I generally do not recommend leaving the panels in the vacuum press over-night. For most veneer adhesives, this can cause the glue to get "globby" which won't let the panel cure evenly. Remember, most liquid glues cure outside of the press. Inside the press, the glue is only "setting". It needs air flow to evaporate the water from the glue and this happens for 4 to 6 hours after the panel is removed from the press.

The flip side is Unibond and Ultra-CAT glues which are non-evaporative curing adhesives. I still do not recommend leaving them in the press for much longer than required. Leaving panels in for too long can also allow mold to grow. I've seen cherry develop patches of mold in less than 6 hours.

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VQ 15: After my veneer arrives, what is the best way to store it?

If your veneer arrives rolled up, it's best to unroll it (slowly and carefully) and store it horizontally. In an ideal situation, you should place a board on top of the veneer to minimize seasonal changes in moisture content which can cause ripples. At the very least, a cover should be placed over the veneer to prevent color fading caused by exposure to UV and fluorescent light.

Some veneers will arrive with tape on the ends to prevent splitting during transit. To remove the tape without splitting the veneer, pull it off in the direction of the grain. If you pull it across the grain, it may tear the veneer. Some companies recommend that you leave the tape on the veneer until you are ready to use it. I don't recommend this practice. Why? Because veneers are capable of expanding and contracting with even the slightest change in humidity. The tape can cause the veneer to buckle when it tries to expand or split when it tries to contract. If your veneer has a split, you can prevent it from advancing by place small pieces of blue tape (or standard veneer tape) along the length of the split. This will allow the wood cells to shrink and expand each season without stressing the entire width of the veneer.

See this page for more information.

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VQ 16: I'm using a paper backed veneer but the veneer glue isn't giving me a good bond. Any suggestions?

Test the back of the paper backed veneer by applying a single drop of water to the backing. If there is still a bead of water after 5 seconds, then the backer is creating the problem with the adhesion. The solution is to scuff sand the backer with 100 grit sandpaper. You can also wipe the backer with lacquer thinner to chemically roughen its surface. Either method will allow the moisture in the veneer glue to transfer the bonding polymers to the paper backing and will give you the quality bond you expect.

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VQ 17: What types of material can I apply veneer to?

There are numerous substrates to which a veneer can be applied. Check out this article for more information.

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VQ 18: Why would I buy a complete vacuum press system if it's so much cheaper to use the Heat Lock glue and a clothes iron for veneering?

The iron and glue method is fine for small pieces but it has some disadvantages. To start, some veneers react negatively to the heat from the iron. I've found that bubinga and some crotch grain veneers do not respond well at all to heat. Additionally, the heat can cause the veneer to shrink which makes it difficult (but not impossible) to get tight seams between two veneers.

The vacuum press method eliminates these issues. Seams stay tight because the glue forces the wood cells to expand. The vacuum press and a good glue will give you flawless bond because you are making a "wetted" joint between the substrate and the veneer. This gives the bond "bite" and is why so many high-end furniture makers would use nothing else.

Don't get me wrong though. The iron on method is a viable veneering option. I use it from time to time on small projects and in places where a vacuum press just won't work.

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VQ 19: What is that mirror jig that I've seen in books that makes the veneer patterns?

This very simple jig is used to help visualize what a quadmatch or sunburst layup of veneer will look like when complete. It consists of two mirrors held together at one end with duct tape. The tape acts as a hinge and allows you to change the angle of the mirrors. When held at the appropriate angle, the Veneer Sunburstmirrors will show a multi-layered reflection of the veneer.

Angle of Mirrors
Veneers for Full Layup
90°
4 (Quadmatch)
22.5°
16 (Sunburst)
30°
12 (Sunburst)
36°
10 (Sunburst)

You can make a wood jig that sets the angle very easily. Just use a miter saw and grooves cut in a small board at 22.5, 30, and 36 degrees.

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VQ 20: There are so many grain types and figures in veneer. Where I can learn more about them?

There is an article here at the JoeWoodworker website that discusses many aspects of veneer including grain types and figure.

Burl Veneer
Burl
The most sought after figure; burls have circles of random cell growth
Quilted Veneer
Quilted

A "high-end" figure with rolling iridescence in distinguished clusters
Curly Veneer
Curly

Cross-grain ripples of shimmer where cell orientation is uneven
Spalted Veneer
Spalted/Ambrosia

Dark lines often caused by fungus or insects; very rare in veneer form

Birds Eye Veneer
Birds Eye

Dots of dense wood cells typically found in maple but can occur in others

Crotch Veneer
Crotch

Very high shimmer; sliced where the tree has forked in two directions
Mottled Veneer
Mottled

Angular rays of shimmer with sharp edges; highly iridescent and creates a bold statement
Fiddleback Veneer
Fiddleback

A higher density of the same figure found in curly woods; highly sought after
Pommele Veneer
Pommele

'Pom-el-ay'
Resembles rain drops cascading down a window; has a very eye catching effect when finished
Blistered Veneer
Blistered

Similar to pommele but with a slightly larger figure and marginally less shimmer; common in sapele, rare in other woods
Quartersawn Veneer
Quartersawn

(Type of cut)
Sliced to yield a very straight grain; some veneer species such as oak show shimmering flecks of light
Flat Cut Veneer
Flat Cut

(Type of cut)
This traditional cut creates a "cathedral" grain which is often compared to the look of solid lumber

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VQ 21: I can't find 1/8" thick veneer. Why is it so hard to find?

Just to clear things up, any wood that is 1/16" or thicker is generally not called "veneer". It is better referenced as "thin lumber". Now to answer the question... Simple economics.

  • The veneer mill can yield a larger amount of usable square feet from a log by slicing the veneers as thin as possible.
  • Thinner veneers are not only easier to slice, but are also easier to dry and keep flat. Thick veneers are notoriously difficult to keep flat and re-flatten.
  • Thick veneers are very difficult to ship.
  • Thin lumber is usually cut with a special machine that is designed only to cut this thickness. Normal veneer slicers simply can not create thin lumber.
  • The machine designed to cut thin lumber usually wastes a lot of wood; whereas veneer slicing machines yield little to no waste.
  • Because of the sawing process used to create thin lumber, it is usually put through a sanding machine. This is not needed on standard veneer thickness due to the slicing action that creates a smooth front and back on the veneer.
  • All of these reasons change the profit that can be attained from a veneer log which causes the square foot price to skyrocket.
  • Thick veneers are also highly prone to "cold creep" which is the phenomena in which the veneer expands and contracts on the substrate material often causing delamination problems. If you must use a thick veneer, you need an adhesive that is stronger than an ordinary glue. A plastic powder resin (PPR) glue is ideal.

This information is not necessarily bad news for the craftsman. Almost any project that seems to demand a thick veneer, can be done with a standard veneer thickness.

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VQ 22: Is it ok to use a paper backed veneer as the "balance" or backing veneer on a panel if the face veneer is unbacked?

It's not a good idea to use a paper backed veneer for balancing a raw wood veneer panel since the paper backed veneer won't expand and contract at the same rate as a raw wood veneer. This expansion and contraction is caused by moisture from the glue and seasonal humidity changes after the project is finished. The end result could be a panel that warps over time. Overall, it's best to use a similar raw wood veneer to balance the panel.

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VQ 23: When I buy veneer sheets, how do I order them so that they can be bookmatched?

To successfully bookmatch, quadmatch or sunburst a veneer you need consecutive sheets. In other words they have to be in the order in which they were sliced from the log. About 99% of the veneers sold at VeneerSupplies.com are shipped consecutively. The veneers that are not consecutive are listed as "random" veneers.

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VQ 24: How do I go about sanding a veneer?

Raw wood veneer will always need sanding after it is pressed to a panel. I usually start with a 120 grit paper if I am sanding with a random orbit sander and work to 180 grit. If I am hand sanding, I start with 150 grit. It takes practice to know how far/deep you can sand a veneer. I've sanded through plenty of veneers by accident and it's just a process you have to learn (like falling off a bike). Within 4 or 5 panels, you'll know what you can do with sandpaper.

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VQ 25: How do I minimize bleed-through when using breather mesh?

Breather mesh will sometimes cause excessive bleed-through when used with very porous veneers such as oak, makore, and walnut. There are several ways to reduce this and a combination of methods will result in a panel with little-to-no bleed-through at all.

  1. Make sure you use a glue roller to apply the glue. When applied correctly, the panel should look evenly coated with paint so as that you could barely see a pencil line through the veneer. More veneering tips are here.
  2. Make sure you are only applying glue to the substrate, not the veneer.
  3. Reduce the amount of pressure in the vacuum bag. For most veneers, you can set the press to 17" of Hg pressure and still get a good bond if the veneer is flat (not buckled or wavy).
  4. As a last resort, you can apply a coat of thinned veneer glue (50/50 with water) to the back of the veneer. Let it dry and it will seal the wood cells. Be aware that the veneer will want to "buckle" while the glue dries so you may have to tape it down to your work bench.

Don't forget to test, test, test. Every veneer, glue, and vacuum bag situation can vary.

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VQ 26: How do I make a large panel with a burl veneer if I can't find a sheet that is large enough?

Quadmatched Burl Wood VeneerMany burl and exotic veneers are not easy to find in extra large sizes and with some species, a large sheet sheet is just not possible at all. In many cases, when a large burl veneer is available, it will have voids, bark pockets, and other anomalies so it must be cut down to a size the excludes these "issues". To accommodate the need for a larger veneer, you'll need to join several veneers together in a bookmatch or quad match pattern. Learn more about this technique by clicking here.

The good news is that bookmatched and quadmatched veneers can yield some incredible imagery and patterns. Check out our "Amazing Bookmatches" page to see what you can accomplish!

Jointing two or more veneers together is a fairly simple task but if you need a larger sheet with a minimum of fuss, then consider using a paper-backed veneer which contains multiple veneers joined together in sequence to make a large sheet with a paper backing.

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VQ 27: Are there any good books about vacuum pressing out there?

Yes! There are three exceptional books on veneering that would make great additions to a woodworking library.

The Complete Manual of Wood Veneering by William Lincoln
It reads more like a high school text book than a "manual" but it is very thorough and well organized. It's currently out of print but it does show up on Ebay rather often.

Book by Mike BurtonVeneering: A Foundation Course by Mike Burton
This book was out of print and hard to find for quite a while but it was revised and published again in June of 2006. The new version includes a section on marquetry which was a great complement to the other chapters. Mike Burton covers various forms of veneer application including vacuum pressing, iron-on veneering, and more traditional methods. The book also includes a few well designed veneering projects. One thing that I really enjoyed is the author's down to earth writing style. He writes as if he was speaking directly to you and his comments are insightful and often downright hilarious.

Book by Jon BensonWoodworker's Guide to Veneering & Inlay by Jonathan Benson
I have admit that this book is probably going to be one of the de facto standards for veneering guides. The author clearly explains nearly every aspect of veneering from log to finished project without over-stressing any particular concepts. This keeps the reading enjoyable, interesting, and wonderfully helpful. If you're interested in vacuum bagging your veneered projects, Jonathan Benson's book has it covered.

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VQ 28: Do I have to use a balance/backer veneer if I use a paper backed veneer on the front of the panel?

I always use a paper backed veneer on the back side of my panels if the face side uses a paper backed veneer. Others say they never use a backer/balance veneer and haven't had any warping problems. I think this largely depends on several factors.

  • Attachment Method - If you're plan is to fasten the panel to a structurally sound surface, you may be able to mechanically force the veneered panel to lay flat.
     
  • Substrate Thickness - a thicker substrate will not warp as much as a thinner one. The downside is that a thicker substrate may be harder to force to lay flat.
     
  • Adhesive Type - Water based adhesives can cause the veneer to expand slightly. The veneer will shrink when the moisture evaporates from the panel and this can cause warping.

The best option is to apply a cheaper paper backed veneer to the back side of the panel with the same adhesive and bonding method that you used on the face sides. This is what I do and I never have to worry about warping.

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VQ 29: If my panel doesn't come out right, how do I remove a veneer from the substrate?

There really is no easy way to remove veneer that has been applied with common veneer adhesives. The nature of the veneer glue is to make an exceptionally strong bond thereby making it very difficult to remove a veneer intentionally. In some cases, you may be able to heavily sand the panel to remove the veneer and adhesive. Ultra-Cat veneer glue generally is the easiest to sand off because it doesn't gum up sand paper as much as other adhesives. However, in most cases you'll probably find it easiest to just remake the substrate panel and start fresh.

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VQ 30: Can I bond wood veneer to a solid wood substrate

The problem with solid wood is that it will expand and contract with seasonal humidity changes in the house. When a solid wood substrate is needed, you'll find that quartersawn lumber is ideal since it has less seasonal movement than flat cut lumber. You'll also want to use a hard-setting PPR adhesive like Ultra-Cat. You'll need a vacuum press to clamp the veneer while the glue dries (4 to 6 hours).

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VQ 31: How can I determine if my project is too wide or tall for a vacuum bag?

There are times when you may need to put a relatively large project inside a vacuum bag. Most vacuum bag suppliers offer a 54" maximum width on their bags. You can visually determine if your project is too big for a vacuum bag by using the string theory below.

You can determine if your project will fit inside a 54" wide bag by cutting a piece of string that is 104" long (or double the width of the vacuum bag minus 4 inches). Tie the ends of the string together so you have a string loop. Find of the area of greatest girth on the project. Drape the loop over and around the project. Now simply imagine that the string is a cross-section of the bag. Use pieces of tape to hold the string against each side of the project. Do this all the way around the project so that there are no gaps. This will help you visualize the way the bag will pull onto the project. If you can apply pieces of tape to hold the string against each part of the project, then it should fit inside a vacuum bag.

If there are gaps where the string will not lay flat against the project surface because there is not enough string left, then the project is too large for the bag.

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VQ 32: How do I veneer over my plastic laminate countertops?

Use a paperbacked veneer and a solvent-based contact cement to make this work. Thoroughly rough the surface of the laminate with 60 grit sandpaper. Wipe off any sanding dust and then apply the contact cement as directed on the label. The contact cement will need to be applied to the veneer and the substrate. When the cement has set up, apply the veneer and use a veneer scraper to make the bond permanent. Be sure to follow the "center-line" scraping technique that is shown on the veneer scraper product page. When the bond is secure, trim the excess veneer with a flush-trimming router bit.

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VQ 33: What adhesive should I use to apply a paperbacked veneer to a project that has a clear coat finish on it?

No easy answers here. It is very hard to bond veneer to a non-porous surface. With any water-based adhesive, you must have a porous surface. On non-porous surfaces, you have to use a solvent based contact cement or PSA veneer. If you opt for a solvent based adhesive, you must scuff sand the substrate with 60 grit sand paper to give the adhesive some "bite". If you use PSA, just a very light scuff sanding will suffice. But in either of these two cases, you'll need to test first. Why? Because solvent based contact cement can cause certain finishes (on the substrate) to soften and that will make a huge mess of the project. With PSA, you'll want to test because the PSA will not stick to the surface if it is oily or has even a trace of silicone on the surface. Since silicone can be found in some furniture polish, this is a very real possibility.

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VQ 34: Did you know that other companies and websites are stealing images and text from the JoeWoodworker and VeneerSupplies.com websites?

I am aware that there are several places on the web (MonsterWoodShop.com, Constantines.com, ColorCopper.com, EHow.com) that have taken text and photo's from my websites and used them for their own purpose. I hired an attorney and he has contacted several of these companies. Each of them claims that they either do not own the content/site or that they feel that anything on the Internet is part of the "public domain" and is free for the taking.

I protect myself as best as I can from this kind of theft and when I find it, I change my own images and text to protect my website search rankings. In fact, I just recently made some additional text and image changes because a very observant woodworker emailed me information that was blatantly taken (word for word) from my site. All of my website work is original and where my information is seen elsewhere is clearly as result of someone else committing theft.

When you purchase a product from VeneerSupplies.com, you are supporting me in my continued effort to improve the JoeWoodworker website with original content and this is something I deeply appreciate.

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VQ 35: What should I do if I can't find a species of edge banding that matches my face veneer?

Use scissors (for paperbacked veneer) or a veneer saw (for 2-ply and raw wood veneer) to cut your own edgebanding from the face veneer stock. Then use Heat Lock glue to bond the banding to your project. With heat from a clothes iron, you can bond any non-glued edgebanding, including one cut from a piece of veneer to any porous substrate.

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VQ36: How do you protect the veneer edges that are to be trimmed after pressing from being crushed while in the vacuum bag?

When building a veneered panel from scratch, try to avoid having any veneer overhang by simply cutting the substrate larger than the required final panel size. Cut the substrate 1" larger than the required size of the finished panel on all 4 sides. Then lay up the veneer .5" larger than the required size of the finished panel on all sides. Then center the veneer on the substrate after the veneer glue is applied.

After the panel cures, trim the panel to size on the table saw with a plywood crosscutting blade. If the veneer isn't perfectly aligned on the substrate, cut a starting straight edge with a band saw or jig saw and then clean up edges on the table saw.

Example:
Step 1 Required Panel Size 22" x 46"
Step 2 Substrate Size
24" x 48"
Step 3 Veneer Size 23" x 47"
Step 4 Finished Panel Size 22" x 46"

If you are re-veneering an existing panel, the information above is not applicable. To answer the question at hand consider the two possible types of pressing methods.

Vacuum Bagging with Breather Mesh
Since breather mesh will allow the bag to pull onto the sides of the substrate, it's best to cut the veneer as close to the final size as possible. This is an important step because excess veneer overhanging the substrate will break off as the bag pulls against the project. In most cases, the breaking point of the veneer will not occur right at the edge of the panel. Instead, it will break on the panel surface leaving an imperfect and unrepairable edge that can not be trimmed.

Vacuum Bagging with Platens (finally, an answer to the question)
A rigid top platen will not bend over the edge of the substrate and thus the veneer will not bend and break over the edge. To get this right, you'll need to cut the platen to the size of the project or simply insert some spacer blocks to support any areas where the top platen overhangs the project surface. Details about this technique can be found at the bottom of this page.

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VQ37: How do I trim excess veneer from my panel?

There are several options for trimming. I prefer to oversize my substrate and veneer. Then I just cut the panels to size on my table saw. There are two things you can do to minimize tear out and splintering on a table saw. The first is to use a saw blade with plenty of teeth. These are typically called plywood crosscutting blades. Also set your saw blade as high as safety will allow. A higher blade height pushes down harder on the veneer as the cutting takes place.

When the project panel does not allow for me to oversize the substrate and veneer, I typically opt to trim the over-hanging veneer with a veneer saw or a flush cutting router bit. By far, the best type of router bit to use in a handheld router is a flush-trimming down-cutting spiral bit with ball bearing. I have these for sale on the VeneerSupplies.com website. The down cutting action presses the veneer (and chips) toward the substrate. It is the downward cutting action that differentiates this type of bit from standard flush cutting bits where the cutting action is lateral.

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