You Live and Learn.... My New Veneer Hammer

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Project by shipwright posted 03-27-2012 07:05 PM 3984 views 8 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Four hundred and twenty seven days ago, when I first decided to try hammer veneering I posted this hammer that I had just made for the joyous occasion. I had watched a few videos on youtube and read a few blogs and it looked like that was just what I needed. It was quite pretty and I was very proud of it.

Shift to present. Now I’ve done a fair bit of hammer veneering and discovered that there are subtlties in the design of a good hammer that had totally eluded me. The old one was too wide, it had too thick an edge, it wasn’t widest at the blade edge for getting into corners, and it was not well designed to apply big pressure with two hands. Besides all that, the lovely tight friction fit on the pretty brass blade opened up when it got wet and the blade kept falling out.

Since that time I’ve been using a series of make shift hammers. ( A small steel flatbar in a set of vice grips actually works amazingly well). Anyway, for whatever reason yesterday when I had some hammer veneering to do I made a new one incorporating some of the things I now know about veneer hammers.

It’s very simple, just a piece of angle steel from the hardware store and a bit of Osage Orange for a handle, but you can put lots of pressure down right where you need it. It’s hard to use the hammer with both hands and take the photo at the same time so imagine the heel of my left hand on the head of the hammer in photo #5.

Photos three, four and five show the basic gluing sequence:

First, apply glue to the substrate, here it’s MDF.

Second, place the veneer good side down and spread a coat of glue on it.

Third, flip the veneer over and hammer it down, working from the center out to the edges.

The one in the last photo works better than the pretty one but it can’t match my new best friend here. Maybe this will encourage some of you to try the “no bag” style of vacuum clamping.

Questions, comments etc. are always welcome

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

22 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7633 posts in 2394 days

#1 posted 03-27-2012 07:16 PM

well done paul, always enjoy seeing a new tool made by a fellow jock, and im sure of it abilities…thanks

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View greg48's profile


543 posts in 1848 days

#2 posted 03-27-2012 07:24 PM

You might try a double headed hammer, it works for me.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View dbray45's profile


2990 posts in 1867 days

#3 posted 03-27-2012 07:25 PM

Looks good, are you using hide glue with this? How well does it work the inlay?

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Karson's profile


34994 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 03-27-2012 07:45 PM

Ive always gone the bag route Paul I might have to try the hammered route some day.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View stefang's profile


14961 posts in 2424 days

#5 posted 03-27-2012 07:57 PM

This new hammer looks quite nice Paul. It was interesting and useful to hear about the special blade shape.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View rustynails's profile


584 posts in 1619 days

#6 posted 03-27-2012 08:03 PM

Greg, can you be more descriptive on your double headed hammer. I have been wanting to build a veneer hammer and get into the art. But in looking at hammers most are very expensive and way over kill. So I am also planning on making my own as Paul has done. A picture would be great if possible.

Thanks Richard

View SPalm's profile


5186 posts in 2972 days

#7 posted 03-27-2012 08:08 PM

Nice lookin’ tool Paul.

I sense this is really a dumb question but… There is no bang-bang hammering, right? You use it like a scraper and pull it toward you or slide it away from you, right?


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View rance's profile


4197 posts in 2251 days

#8 posted 03-27-2012 08:17 PM

Its not the hammer veneering that would freak me out, its the glue you use. :) I’m not saying I won’t ever try it, I’m just not up to the task as of yet. Nice looking new hammer btw.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View a1Jim's profile


113833 posts in 2667 days

#9 posted 03-27-2012 08:31 PM

Hey Paul
We live an learn fancy is not always important,function is. Well done

-- Custom furniture

View ITnerd's profile


262 posts in 1690 days

#10 posted 03-27-2012 08:36 PM

Thats definitely the ticket for leverage. Like a plane knob you can bear down on, and steer with the other hand. Sharp looking too.

Steve, you got it – the best reference point I can give is… Squeegee, oddly enough. Never did understand how it got the Hammer name. Putting it on the big list of questions now, along with ‘why are there no rocket surgeons?’.

Will keep all posted,

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

8548 posts in 3143 days

#11 posted 03-27-2012 08:40 PM

Being new to this area…
... Why do they call it a Hammer?
... You’re not pounding anything… you’re more pressing like using a squeegy than pounding…
... No nails involved… LOL

Nice tool doing a good job!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View shipwright's profile


6280 posts in 1888 days

#12 posted 03-27-2012 09:03 PM

Thanks for the interest
To answers some questions:

David, Yes, it only works with hot hide glue. Even liquid hide glue or Old Brown Glue are out. It does plain inlay like banding very well and very easily but if you are referring to marquetry it’s not a good idea. (don’t ask)

Steve, No hammering. The purpose is to squeeze out all the air and all of the glue you can. As the glue emerges around the edges, it is cooling and it gels. This seals the edges and no more air can get under the veneer. At that point you have 14.7 #/sq in.(+ or-) “vacuum” pressure until the glue dries.

Joe, Chris, et al, There are many models with cast metal heads that have a round (or square) flat surface on the opposite side of the head from the blade. This makes them look more like a “hammer”. That surface can be heated and used as a small iron to re-liquify and re-squeeze small areas that need attention.

Thanks again…. Good questions.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3014 days

#13 posted 03-27-2012 10:46 PM

Paul, You may have seen this video of Patric Edwards showing how he does Veneers. (pretty much what you said) He is in my opinion one of the leading wood workers today. If you get a chance check out his work bench as well. Glue

Work bench

View Philip's profile


1213 posts in 1629 days

#14 posted 03-27-2012 10:59 PM

Looks pretty good Paul, can’t wait to see what’s next

-- I never finish anyth

View shipwright's profile


6280 posts in 1888 days

#15 posted 03-27-2012 11:37 PM

sandhill, Patrick did a hammer veneering demo for us at the class in Feb. Most of the improvements made here are in one way or another related to his guidance. I’ve seen his bench first hand and it is truly his pride and joy. I’m not sure he has anything in his amazing shop that he values more.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

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