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)
Connect the Bag
Bag Closures
Bag Platens
Breather Mesh
DIY Frame Press

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

Part 5
Miscellaneous Info

Vacuum Forming
Vacuum Chucking
Vacuum Clamping
Vacuum Clamp Matrix
Vacuum Infusing
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)

Vacuum Veneering - Tips, Tricks, and More

Veneering Tips: How to Prevent Veneer Panel Failure

No matter how many times you've used a vacuum press, there's always a moment of slight anxiety when you pull a veneered panel out of the press. You're wondering if there will be bubbles, ripples, delamination, or seam separation. Here are a few tips to ease the worry and avoid the most common mistakes when working with veneer.

1: Use the Right Glue

  • Contact cement is only suitable for backed veneers.
  • Yellow glue should not be used with veneer. It doesn't dry hard and it has a tendency to allow bleed-through. This is, by far, the most common mistake in veneering. More information about veneering adhesives can be found by clicking here.
  • PPR's and urea resin glues are not ideal for those new to veneering. They require careful mixing and long press times. And for veneering, their only benefit is higher moisture and heat resistance.
  • Standard "cold press" veneer glue is the best choice. In my opinion, the Better Bond veneer glue is the ideal blend for veneering because it dries fast and rock-hard. It doesn't require mixing and it's very forgiving in its application.
  • Heat Lock and other iron-on glues can not be used with a veneering project that has seams.

2: Use the Right Tool to Apply the Glue

For standard cold press veneer glue and PPR's such as Ultra-CAT, a dedicated glue roller is ideal. I've found that the easiest way is to use a dedicated glue roller. I'm not talking about the $200 imported rollers with the glue hopper on top. I prefer something simple like the one shown on the right. Of course, you can get them at and help support this ad-free article.

The key to applying glue is to put it on evenly. The rule of thumb is that the surface of the substrate should look evenly painted with veneer glue. It should not be dripping wet. A good test is to place a pencil mark on the substrate and apply the glue. If you can barely see the pencil mark on the substrate (through the adhesive), you have the right amount of glue.

Always apply glue to the substrate material, not to the veneer.


Glue Roller

Glue Video

3: Prepare the Surfaces Properly

For all substrates
Many substrates require a quick scuff sanding with 80 or 100 grit sand paper. MDF is notoriously smooth and can be non-porous if it's sanded too smoothly at the factory. It's always a good idea to prep MDF by sanding it first.

For paper-backed veneer
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 80 or 100 grit sand paper. You can also wipe the backer with lacquer thinner to chemically roughen its surface.

For raw wood veneer
No preparation is needed for most raw wood veneers. However some of the oily exotics will adhere better if it is wiped with naphtha just before application

4: Use a Backer or Balance Veneer

One of the most common veneering problems is the tendency of the panel to warp after it is removed from the press. You can eliminate this issue by veneering both sides of the panel. A backer or balance veneer should be used on the reverse side of the substrate. This will even out the stress placed on the substrate as the glue dries and the veneer settles into its final position on the panel.

Learn more about backer veneer use on this page.

5: Use a Vacuum Press for Best Results

A vacuum press is the ideal tool for clamping veneer to a substrate because it applies evenly distributed pressure across the entire surface. If you do not have a vacuum press, you can usually get a good finished panel with clamps and weights. The key is to make sure the pressure is evenly distributed. Otherwise, the glue may create rigids and bubbles in the veneer. This will ruin the panel.

Click here for more information about veneering without a vacuum.

6: Allow the Panel to Dry Correctly

Standard cold press veneer glue needs about 60 minutes of press time to "set" the veneer glue. Remember, the actual cure takes another 4 to 6 hours so be sure to let the panel dry completely before you do any sanding or machining.

PPR's and urea resins require 4 to 6 hours in the press. These glues do not require air to evaporate the liquid in the adhesive so they can generally be machined immediately after they are pulled from the press.

Don't leave a panel in the press for much longer than the glue specifies. For some veneer adhesives, this can cause the glue to get "globby" which won't let the panel cure evenly. 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.

Prevent panel warp by allowing both sides of the panel to dry evenly. This is another easy technique that only requires you to place the panel on a flat surface with a few dowels under it until the glue has cured. For more information, be sure to check out the "Curing Glued Panels" page.

Be sure to check out the Veneering FAQ for more information.

Yes, Joe is a practicing Catholic
The Vac FAQ
Heat Lock Veneer Glue