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
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)

VeneerSupplies.com

Vacuum Veneering - Tips, Tricks, and More

Veneering With Copper

copper veneer projectThere are a few woodworking and crafts catalogs that offer a "liquid patina" that instantly ages copper. These concoctions chemically react with the copper and create a mesmerizing parade of patterns and colors. I've never had the time or patience to try my hand at this chemical art form, but I imagine that it's quite rewarding. Honestly, my shop is too crowded with tools and junk to set up a place to work with the copper and patina mixes.

Luckily, a very cool product is available that allows anyone to jump right into using this color copper without the chemical mess. What is it? It's patinated copper sheeting and it's unbelievably gorgeous. There are 12 varieties of this copper veneer but countless patterns and colors that shown on each unique sheet.

Copper Samples Are Now AvailableThe copper patina sheets are a unique and intriguing material that will surely have family, friends, and customers lining up to get their hands on any project you create. You'll find that copper veneer works much like wood veneer. Individual copper samples and 25-piece sample kits are now available so you can get an affordable look at what is available.

Keep in mind that the edges of the copper veneer can be quite sharp. Exercise care when handling this material to prevent injury. If in doubt, wear gloves or other suitable protection.

Simple Tricks and Basic Tools Yield Outstanding Results
Copper veneering requires no significant investment in tools or machinery. A few basic tools are all you need.

Smooth It Out
Wood Roller
Copper veneer is rolled onto a cardboard tube for shipping to protect it during transit. But it's very likely that your copper will have a small crease in one or two areas. This is normal and easily repaired with a wood roller and a piece of vinyl. To remove a crease, set the copper on a smooth surface, place a piece of 30 gauge vinyl over the blemish, and use the wood roller to roll out the wrinkle. A few passes will do the trick.


Stickin' It
There are two ways to adhere copper to a substrate. Each is significantly different from the other; however, both will achieve good results. The choice to use one over the other depends on several factors. Here are some tidbits to chew on.

 

Method 1:
Solvent Based
Contact Cement

Method 2:
TC-20™ Copper Adhesive

Bonds to…

Porous and non-porous surfaces including melamine, laminates, most metals, and plastics

Porous surfaces such as wood, MDF, plywood, and particle board

Bond Strength

Satisfactory for most applications but can peel off if not protected. Contact cement does not harden when cured.

Excellent, if applied correctly. TC-20 dries hard which makes edges stronger and panels that can withstand more abuse.

Machining

To saw a copper veneered panel, you must place another board on top of the panel to prevent tear out damage.

Cuts cleanly with a sharp saw blade. A crisp edge is possible if the panel is properly adhered. This is the ideal method if you plan to scroll saw the veneered project.

Application Tools

J-Roller

A vacuum press is ideal but other face-clamping options work as well.

Cure Time

Approximately 20 minutes

Approximately 90 minutes

Fumes/V.O.C.'s

Yes. Contact cement emits harmful fumes. It must be used in a well ventilated area.

No. TC-20 does not emit any harmful fumes.

Clean Up

Most contact cements will clean up with lacquer thinner.

TC-20 can be cleaned up with water while it's still wet.

Coverage Per Pint

25 Square feet (must apply to veneer and substrate)

30 Square feet (apply to substrate only)

Price Per Pint

$9.95

$13.95

Notes: Don't try this with water-based contact cement. Only a solvent based contact cement will work. TC-20 is available at VeneerSupplies.com

Method 1: Contact Cement
Copper Cuts with ScissorsThis is the simple way to apply copper veneer if you can work in a well ventilated area and don't mind the fumes. 

  1. Use scissors to cut the copper veneer 1" larger than the substrate.
  2. Make sure all of the creases and wrinkles have been eliminated or minimized using the wood roller and vinyl sheeting. Be certain that the substrate material and copper veneer are free of any dust or debris.
  3. In a well ventilated area, apply contact cement to the face side of the substrate and the back side of the copper veneer.
  4. Follow the contact cement manufacturer instructions in regard to set times.
  5. When the contact cement is ready, carefully place the copper veneer onto the substrate and use the J-Roller to roll out the copper veneer from edge to edge. The key to a good bond is rolling every square inch of surface area. Be sure to apply firm downward pressure on the roller.
  6. The copper veneer is thin, so trimming is fairly easy. When the panel is finished, trim the edges with scissors or razor knife. You can also trim the edges by placing another board on top of the veneered panel and cutting off any excess with a table saw equipped with at least a 55 tooth blade. A router equipped with a flush trimming bit will also work. Do not use a veneer saw to trim the copper.

TC-20 Copper AdhesiveMethod 2: TC-20™ Copper Glue
(Thanks to Bill Holmes of Stockbridge GA for contributing to this method)

If you've used a vacuum press for wood veneering, you'll find that copper veneer works just like wood veneer. This is my preferred method of application. I'm definitely not a big fan of contact cement so I prefer using TC-20.

A vacuum press is not needed but it does have a tendency to leave a smoother surface on copper veneer. If you don't own a vacuum press, TC-20 can be applied to the substrate and clamped in place with a piece of plywood over it and with plenty of weight on top. Books, lumber, and shop tools work well for weights.

  1. Use scissors to cut the copper veneer 1/8" to 1/4" larger than the substrate.
  2. Make sure all of the creases and wrinkles have been eliminated or minimized using the wood roller and vinyl sheeting. Be certain that the substrate material and copper veneer are free of any dust or debris.
  3. This step is critical!
    Place the veneer face down on a smooth, clean surface. Gently scuff-sand the back of the copper veneer with 80 or 120 grit sandpaper. Be sure to scuff all parts that are to be bonded (especially corners and edges). Wear gloves while doing this to prevent any chemical residue from contacting your skin.
  4. In a well ventilated area, thoroughly wash the back side of the copper with water or acetone using a steel wool or synthetic steel wool (Scotch-Brite) pad. Be certain to wear gloves while doing this to prevent any chemical residue from contact your skin. Wipe off any residue.
  5. Scuff-sand the substrate with 80 or 120 grit sandpaper to ensure a perfect bond.
  6. Using a glue roller, apply the TC-20 adhesive to the substrate. Do not apply it to the copper veneer.
  7. Place the copper veneer onto the substrate. To prevent shifting, tape the copper veneer to the edge of the substrate. Be sure to use blue masking tape. Regular masking tape will be hard to remove after pressing the panel.
  8. If you are using a vacuum press, place the panel in the vacuum bag and clamp it shut. Allow the press to run for 45 minutes before removing the panel. The ideal pressure for vacuum pressing is 21" of Hg.
  9. If you opt to use a different clamping method, be sure that to apply evenly distributed pressure to the entire panel surface. Allow the panel to cure for 45 minutes before unclamping.
  10. You'll notice that the bond is very weak when the panel is first removed from the press. Curing takes a minimum of 90 minutes outside of the press but allow 24 hours for a full bond especially if you are machining the panel.
  11. Since the copper is thin, the edges can be trimmed with a table saw or miter saw equipped with a sharp blade with at least 55 teeth. A router with a flush trimming bit works nicely as well. Do not use a veneer saw to trim the copper.
 

Adding Flash to Pizzazz
For even more character, you can opt to distress the copper veneer by poking holes in after it is pressed. And for the ultimate distressing, some artisans have dented, dinged, and creased the surface using the wood roller. These randomly spaced "character marks" give the panel a hand-worked feel and an antique look.

Most of the copper veneers have a dull sheen which somewhat subdues the colors and patterns. Though the patina is permanent and will not rub off, a good coat of paste wax will bring out the best in the copper and protect it as well. Carnauba based car wax works quite well but any wax will work as long as it doesn't have "cleaner" or polishing agents in it.

Added Protection for Special Projects
A coat of furniture-grade paste wax will protect the copper from mild abrasion. Better protection is needed if you are using this material for table tops in which case we've found that a standard brushing lacquer (available at most hardware stores) works quite well.
For countertops and bars, the ideal protective coating is poured-on epoxy. Many hardware stores carry this type of finish.

If you plan to apply an additional top coat, be sure to order your copper with the lacquer finish. The wax finish option should only be ordered if you have no plans to further protect the finish. Be sure to test any additional top coats on a scrap piece before tackling the finished project.

Questions? Click here to see the Copper Veneering FAQ.

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