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

Part 1
Introduction

Welcome
Veneering Basics

14 Good Reasons
Vacuum Press Uses
Vacuum Press Options
Overview

Questions & Answers
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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
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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
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Part 3
Vacuum Bagging

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

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Part 4
Veneer Information

About Veneer
Veneering Glossary
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
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Part 5
Miscellaneous Info

Vacuum Forming
Vacuum Chucking
Vacuum Clamping
Vacuum Clamp Matrix
DIY Vacuum Manifold
Vacuum Press Gallery 1
Vacuum Press Gallery 2
Veneering FAQ
Veneer Glue FAQ
The Vac FAQ
Copper Veneer FAQ
Downloads (PDF's)

VeneerSupplies.com

Vacuum Veneering - Tips, Tricks, and More

Platens/Caul for the Vacuum Press

The platen system inside the vacuum bag serves two purposes. First, it helps to keep the veneered panel flat while the glue is setting up. More importantly, the grooves on the platen allow air to flow out of the vacuum bag to the vacuum source thereby creating an evenly distributed level of vacuum inside.

I have seen numerous ways of pressing the veneer to the substrate with the use of platens inside the vacuum bag. I truthfully do not know which is better, so I will limit this article to the method I use which has never failed to bring anything less than optimal results.

Breather Mesh Trick

Veneering with a two-piece platen system is fine for small to medium size flat panels but it is a bit "old school". It's much easier to use breather mesh because there is no need for a top platen. Check out this article and give it some thought!

Breather Mesh In Action

Platen Material

If you are not using breather mesh, you'll need to make 2 platens from ¾" melamine board. The benefit of melamine (instead of plain plywood or MDF) is that it prevents the veneered panel and any excess adhesive from sticking to the platens. A coat of paste wax will ensure easy removal of the veneered panel from the press. The wax will last though many glue-ups. You can find 4' x 8' white melamine sheets near the plywood aisle in most of the larger lumber and hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes.

The platens should be at least 4 inches smaller than the inside measurement of the vacuum bag. This will prevent the vacuum bag from stretching at the seams which will cause the bag to split. The bottom platen can have a border (approximately 1¾" tall) around the outside perimeter as shown in the picture below. This bordered bottom platen will help keep the top platen in place while in the press. The length and width of top platen should be 1/4" less than the bottom platen to allow easy removal after the pressing cycle is complete.

Platen Edges

You can significantly increase the life of the vacuum bag by rounding over the edge of the platen boarder. Otherwsie the sharp edges of the platen system can stress or even puncture the vacuum bag while under pressure.

Next, set your table saw blade to a height of 1/8", and cut grooves from the front to the back and side to side on the outside of the top platen. No grooves are needed on the bottom platen. The spacing of the grooves on the top platen is not critical but a 1 to 3 inch layout works well. These grooves will direct the air to the bag stem and are absolutely necessary. Remember, these grooves are on the outside when you place them in the vacuum bag.

Vacuum Press Platens
The completed platens for a 2 x 4 vacuum bag

Platen Spacer Blocks

You may have an issue if your soon-to-be-veneered panel leaves a gap of 2" or more around the border. The top platen will cave in around the edges of the substrate while under pressure. To remedy this, simply cut a few extra pieces of the substrate material and use them as spacers between the two platens. Be sure these spacers are the same thickness as the substrate being glued to the veneer.

The Platen Concept

Vacuum Bag Cross Section

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