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Thread: Veneering Questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lake City, Florida

    Veneering Questions

    I'm moving into unknown territory here (veneering) -- project is a built in computer station / desk area in what is to become the computer room / secondary TV room / reading room. The desk top is going in a nook that is 88" wide x 28" deep. I have some nice figured maple that I want to resaw and use as 'veneer'. It will be bookmatched with probably four pieces 7" wide x 88" long. The planned substrate is MDF, although that is negotiable.

    In his book, Tage Frid explains why you do not want your veneer thicker than 1/28th inch. He explains that when the veneer is too thick (he uses 1/4" as an example) the lower face is held securely to the substrate by the glue, but as the exposed face drys it will try to contract (cross grain) and crack. I do believe this is not in my skill set, the best I think I might get accurately is maybe 1/8" inch thick after sanding and clean up.

    So I guess my question is, just how thick can I safely go with a 'veneer' without having problems? What type glue should I use (Titebond?), and if I use MDF substrate do I have to 'veneer' the bottom also?

    Thanks in advance, Tony

    Tony, BCE '75

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    Tony, I like the spray adhesive, spray the top then the back of the veneer wait 15 minutes and lay on. Use a roller holding up one end and working the veneer down slowly LOL 1/28 is a good thickness. Are you working with paper back or not ?
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    dave, what are you using as spray adhesive? and how do you line it up? tape it first then lay it down as one sheet?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lake City, Florida
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hawksford View Post
    Are you working with paper back or not ?
    No, it's not 'veneer' yet.
    The 'veneer' is currently 4/4 in rough cut board form. The problem is I don't think I can get it to 1/28th" myself.

    Tony, BCE '75

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Villa Park, CA
    I would not recommend spray adhesive except for paper backed veneer. For raw veneer (wood through and through) I'd recommend a glue (maybe PVA) and pressing the veneer in some fashion, such as a vacuum bag.

    Also, paper backed veneer is mostly used in architectural applications and is almost never used on furniture.

    But Tony is talking about shop made veneer, which is raw veneer. I'd saw as thin as you can, sand it after gluing it down and keep your fingers crossed. My experience is that veneer is not strong enough to buckle when glued well to a good substrate but you never know. A hard, non-creeping glue like urea formaldehyde might be best.

    MDF is a good substrate and, yes, you should veneer both sides. Just use some cheap commercial veneer on the back, and finish both sides.


    [Some additional thoughts: Modern commercial veneer is 1/42". It used to be 1/28". Our ancestors had to hand saw their veneer and it was a lot thicker than 1/28" and they attached it to boards with hide glue and it lasted for centuries. MDF is a better substrate than mahogany boards, for example. It's more stable.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 02-07-2010 at 03:49 PM.
    Ancora imparo
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Bradford, Vermont
    This is a spot where - unusual for me - I'll say "buy, buy". Sawn veneer, while better in some regards than sliced veneer, won't easily get you where you want to go... and purchased veneer is easy & inexpensive to come by. You really want the ~1/40" stuff for this.

    You'll also want (buy or build) a veneer hammer. It's like a brass-edged squeegee for smoothing the surface & forcing glue & air pockets to the edges, it's never used for actual hammering. That works FAR and AWAY better than any high-pressure roller.

    PVA glue is nearly ideal for veneer-over-MDF. Yep, veneer both sides, even on MDF - you can get really nasty cheap patched veneer for the backside; they sell junk veneers just for that purpose.
    -- Tim --

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan
    I seem to remember reading somewhere that a veneer should not be over .100" thick. Less than 1/8th. I haven't done any of this yet but want to try it soon with some birdseye maple. I might have to barter some time on a friends thickness sander to thin down the panels after glue-up. You need to veneer both sides to even the stress out so the board won't warp.

    I also will get a moisture meter soon because I worry that shop made veneers might be too wet and later drying might cause problems. I would think you will want the moisture content below 10% (6-8%) but this depends on where you live and so forth. I have always wondered about the water in glues and how it affects the moisture content of the wood. Maybe someone else knows the story on this?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lake City, Florida
    the more I think about this, the more problematic it gets. This may be too large a project start veneering on. We are reconsidering the possibility of going with a laminate top (aka formica). A solid black or a not to busy black stone like or speckle will look real good in the setting. That I know I can handle. But, being a built in I DO NOT want it to look like a countertop. If I go with the laminate I most likely will edge it with hardwood.

    I drive myself nuts thinking about this stuff and never seem to get off center and get going on a project. The next issue I'm dealing with is I want to wall mount a 32" tv above the desk to double as a computer monitor and tv. tv watching will be from across the room, so no problem. I am concerned about being too close when using as a computer monitor (probably 90% of my usage). 28" deep desktop with a 32" tv wall mounted behind? any thoughts?

    Attached is a rough sketchup of what I'm thinking. The space use to be a closet, I removed the doors and the wing walls. The door goes to a smaller closet.

    Ideas are welcomed.

    Thanks, Tony
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Computer Room.jpg  

    Tony, BCE '75

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    UPlengen - try and find that ;-)
    Tony , if you look at the pic in my last post you will see a traditional bookcase - this is made with my own self made veneers in YEW - which is well know for being a pain to work with.
    I planed the mating edges to match up, then face side up butted up to each and then taped up - I used a heavy duty parcel tape, by pulling it tight it will stretch slightly ths pullilng the veneers tighter in. As seen here -

    I then used Titebond 2 in a space saver bag - you know the ones seen on TV to shrink one's storage problems down to a smaller size for $20 or so. Glued it up onto 15mm thick MEDITE MDF, all into the bag and then I left the dust extractor on the bag for the day, and then pulled it out, placed on my bench with some mdf on top over night.See here prior to being veneered up

    Once the glue has hardened, I peeled the tape off and belt sanded each panel to the right thickness and then used French polish and lots of it, to finish it.
    Oh, the veneer was 4mm / 5mm thick when cut, and ended up being 1/2 -3mm once done.


    Last edited by Karl Wissinger; 02-07-2010 at 11:09 PM. Reason: spelling! DOH !
    You name it, I'll butcher it !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Lindale, TX
    At the shop I used to work at, we routinely used our own resawn planks. The routine was to resaw to 3/16" and use PVA glue it to the substrate in a vacuum bag. We didn't veneer both sides. My boss had done it this way for years and had learned it from his old boss who had been in the business forever. The key to this is to use a modern finish with good sealing properties. We used a Vinyl based sanding sealer under nitrocellulose laquer. Once the planks were glued down to a stable substrate and sealed, they weren't moving.

    Now, if you go thinner than 3/16" on your planks DO NOT use PVA glue. If you do, your planks will absorb water out of the glue, cup like crazy, and you'll never get them to stay down to get the piece in the vacuum bag. If you with thinner planks, use a urea formaldehyde glue. I like Unibond 800. If you use a non water based glue you don't have veneer both sides so long has you use a modern finish the seals well.

    The "rule" of veneering both sides comes from the time when the only glue available was hide glue, which is water based. When you use a thin veneer, and soak it with water, it expands. As the glue dries, the veneer pulls on the substrate and will warp it. So to combat this, you veneer both sides of the substrate with woods with similar properties so they contract the same amount and keep the panel flat. Most of a panel's tendency to warp comes at the time of gluing, not down the road. So you can avoid having to veneer both sides by using a modern glue that's not water based. For insurance, use a modern finish with good to excellent resistance to water and water vapor transfer. The drawback is that veneering this way requires some kind of press, and a pressing system is a pretty large investment for the average woodworker.

    If you want to do veneering on a budget, going old school with hot hide glue is a pretty good option. The equipment for using hot hide glue is very cheap. All you really need is thrift store crock pot to heat the glue and a veneer hammer which can be cheaply made from a scrap piece of hardwood and a piece of 1/4" plexiglass. If you go this route, you have to follow the old rules and of thin veneer and veneering both sides.

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