Laying a Veneer Panel

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Forum topic by Mike_Henderson posted 12-20-2009 07:54 AM 1344 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 3074 days

12-20-2009 07:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: veneer

I’m working on some cabinets for a client and document my work so the client can see that I’m making progress (since I’m very slow). One thing I have to do is make some veneered back panels for the cabinets (one upper cabinet, and one lower cabinet).

In doing the back for the bottom cabinet, I took progress pictures to document the process of veneering a flat panel. You can see it here.

Other people may use a different process and, if so, I’d like to hear how you do it. This process works for me but it’s slow and labor intensive. Also, I have a very small shop and no special tools for veneer, so I have to improvise.


[P.S. I do know that I could buy walnut faced plywood.]

3 replies so far

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3782 days

#1 posted 12-20-2009 01:34 PM

I would advise buying a veneer plywood. Since your shop is small, I would say this is economically more cost-effective. For $50-60 for the sheet, you could be putting your time to better use.

Nice pump…obviously home made and just as obvious…a thoughtful job of it.

We make veneered panels all the time. Although ours will usually be 1/2” Baltic with 1/4” veneer. Sometimes thinner, but not that “real” veneer you’re doing. Definitely a crafty job.

Veneered ply is the way to go unless you are doing burls, crotches or other specifically artsy work. To me plywood is like walmart…you’d rather not, but, you do because of money/time.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3098 days

#2 posted 12-20-2009 05:10 PM

Doesn’t that panel warp when you only veneer the one side? If it’s just a back and it’s firmly captured or mounted, you can get away with a lightly warped panel.

I do my seams one at a time, with a laminate trimmer and 1/8” downcut spiral bit. Most of the veneer work I’ve done has been flamed birch, and the swirling grain tears out easily. I tried many different methods to get clean seams before settling on what I know do. Basically, I have flat jig with an mdf straightedge attached at one end. I lift it up, and slide one piece of veneer under it. I use a clamp on the other end to hold the straightedge in place. I then take the second bookmatched piece, and overlap them by about 1/4” at the seam. I just tape this piece to the jig with blue tape. With an 1/8” routerbit, if you route at least 3/16”, you won’t get any tearout. If the bit cuts along the edge, difficult veneers can splinter. The nice thing about cutting the two edges at once, is that if the joint isn’t straight, it doesn’t matter. My process may be even slower than yours, but as I’m not getting paid to do it, that’s OK.

So I cut all the pieces needed for the panel, and mark them so they go in the correct order, then basically tape them up like you did. I have a Joe Woodworker venturi pump, and home made bag. I use Titebond cold press veneer glue, as it gives you more working time that yellow glue.

And as far as buying veneered plywood. Doesn’t always work well when you need bookmatched panels, as you have no control over the seam locations. And even if you can find consecutive sheets of plywood, there can be a lot of variations in veneer width, which also makes it hard to get matching panels. If you can use it, for sure, it’ll save you tons of time, and with the cost of the veneer and substrate, you’re not really paying much more at all, but can save hours of time. But if you want your project to be perfect, doing your own veneer work is the only way to go.

-- Gerry,

View Mike_Henderson's profile


18 posts in 3074 days

#3 posted 12-20-2009 05:24 PM

Reply to Ger21. I actually do veneer both sides but I do them one at a time just so I can handle the panel easier, especially when putting into the bag. I find that the panel does warp at first, but when it dries out, usually in a day or two, it flattens out. The substrate is 1/4” MDF.

In any case, the application is for the back of a cabinet and I use a groove to capture the back panel (instead of a rabbet) so it holds the panel well on all four sides.

I’ve heard of the technique you mention – of using a router bit and a guide to trim the veneer but I’ve not tried it yet. Maybe your post will be the encouragement I need.

I use white glue for a couple of reasons. I find that I get enough open time except for very large panels – white glue has a bit longer open time than most yellow glue. My other reason is that white glue can be washed off if I get it on the outside of the veneer (it’s not even close to waterproof). Of course, if the furniture was ever caught in a flood, the veneer would come off but that’s a pretty low probability event

In reply to the people who suggested faced plywood, as I said in my P.S., I’m aware of its existence but I choose to lay my own. What I’m soliciting is comments from others who do veneer so I can improve my technique. And maybe someone will be able to learn something from my process.


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