Veneer Tips, Please

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Forum topic by Kristoffer posted 05-18-2010 08:31 PM 12176 views 2 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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675 posts in 3391 days

05-18-2010 08:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany clamp sander plane veneering

After hosting the recent southeast Michigan LJ BBQ, I ended out being a very proud foster parent to a ton of veneers. I have at least three different species. Thanks given again to Dustin Ward! Anyway, I’m excited about getting started with them, but I don’t just want to rush into uncharted territory. So, here are at least a few of my questions about working with veneers.

1) What is the best substrate to use? Is MDF or particle board okay?

2) What is the best adhesive to use? Is Titebond II or III okay?

3) Do I apply the adhesive to the substrate AND the veneer or just to the substrate?

I do know to make sure that ALL of the surface is covered and covered evenly, but that’s about it. All advice will be greatly appreciated.

-- Cheers and God Bless

10 replies so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3211 days

#1 posted 05-18-2010 08:54 PM

I tend to use MDF, cross sand it with a piece of 80 grit before gluing (to give the glue something to get into). For glue I use plan old PVA but either of the Titebonds would be OK. Again I just glue the substrate.
Some type of press is a good idea for large areas, either vacuum or clamp.


-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 3130 days

#2 posted 05-18-2010 08:56 PM

1) What is the best substrate to use? Is MDF or particle board okay?

MDF is an ideal substrate for veneering to.

2) What is the best adhesive to use? Is Titebond II or III okay?

Traditionally they use hide glue. Of course, hide glue is the traditional glue, but in the case of veneers, it offers some benefits over modern glues … it is forgiving to work with, easily reversed and easily repaired. But, it does have some disadvantages too. The way that you activate hide glue is through heat, so if you are say veneering a table top and a hot pan is set on the table, it can cause your veneer to delaminate.

Most of the folks here would probably use a PVA glue, but with PVA, you need to have a method for applying even pressure over the veneered surface. Frequently this is a vacuum bag set up.

You could also use a contact cement. But, be aware that it will allow movement, and some finishing methods (lacquer) can break down the glue.

3) Do I apply the adhesive to the substrate AND the veneer or just to the substrate?

Depends on the type of glue that you use.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4300 days

#3 posted 05-18-2010 10:04 PM

Glue-wise, best results I had were using Titebond II as a contact adhesive. Liberally apply to both surfaces, the substrate and the veneer. Let dry for about an hour (should look dry). Attach the veneer with an iron. Works awesome. First pass was trying to apply the glue with a hacksaw blade, the best was when i watered it down (just a little) a bit and applied it with a disposable trim roller.

However, Titebond II loses its meltable properties after a few hours of curing, so you can’t do an “overnight and come back to it”. Did that once. I’ve heard that original Titebond is actually more forgiving this way, and Titebond III works much worse, if at all.

Things I’ve tried that failed:

Titebond II wet: Got bubbles in the veneer, without a vacuum press I couldn’t figure out how to get even pressure on the whole thing.

Contact cement: Too flexible, let the veneer move as humidity changed, and the moisture ripped the veneer apart.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3283 days

#4 posted 05-18-2010 10:45 PM

Kristoffer, might want to give titebond extend a try. It works like the original titebonds but has a much longer set time. I never see it in the stores but Rockler and Amazon both distribute it. I use it for more complicated joins and the set time makes it so that I don’t have to feel like I am part of a Nascar pit crew when I try to put things together.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Ger21's profile


1075 posts in 3306 days

#5 posted 05-19-2010 02:05 AM

Unless you’re doing small pieces, you really want to use a vacuum press. Titebond Cold Press Veneer glue is the way to go. And DO NOT put the glue on the veneer. The moisture will cause it to curl up into a tube within a minute or two if you try it.

-- Gerry,

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3908 days

#6 posted 05-19-2010 04:36 AM

- MDF is the best substrate. Particle board because of the uneven surface and possible voids is not real good for veneer although it is good for laminate. I’ve also veneered over Baltic Birch plywood with good results.

- I’ve used Titebond III for my veneering thus far but have read that it does not form a hard bond – the veneer can shift over time even after the glue has cured (same with any white/yellow glue). Titebond does sell a ColdPress Veneer Glue which forms a firm bond. Hide glue and urea-formaldehyde resin both work very well. A lot of people swear by contact cement but most seem to swear at i – it should only be used with paper-backed veneers.

- Unless you are going to heat bond (iron) the veneer, only apply to the substrate. As Gerry mentioned above, applying glue to the veneer will cause it to curl badly unless you wet the opposite side before applying the glue.

- I usually veneer only small pieces for boxes, etc. and I use 3/4” plywood cauls with clamps. The stack, from the bottom, would be: caul, waxed paper, veneer, substrate, veneer, waxed paper, caul – this is assuming you veneer both sides which is highly recommended (if the off side is not going to be seen, you can use an el-cheapo veneer… you don’t have to use the same veneer as used on your show side). Handscrew clamps work very well to clamp your veneer as long as you are careful to snug them down parallel to the surface. I also use some 6” heavy duty bar clamps but they won’t spread the pressure out like the handscrew clamps will. Usually I use a couple of the handscrews and fill in with the 6” bar clamps.

Hope this helps.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#7 posted 05-19-2010 05:11 AM

Joe the woodworker has a lot of information and supplies for veneering.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Rustic's profile


3254 posts in 3771 days

#8 posted 05-19-2010 05:21 AM

I have some titebond cold press glue that you can have

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View thatwoodworkingguy's profile


375 posts in 3104 days

#9 posted 05-19-2010 08:07 AM

I usually use contact cement and a rolling pin to glue up. Just make sure you spread the cement on both pieces and it HAS to be dry. Then I roll out the top with a rolling pin.
I glue up tons of box tops and I have yet to see this technique fail

-- ~Eagle America~ ~Woodcraft~

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Rick S...

10779 posts in 3207 days

#10 posted 05-20-2010 09:47 AM

After having made more than my fair share of Store Fixtures, Contact Cement is the way to go. We used a 6” Hard Rubber Roller to make sure it was all well in place.

Yes. As mentioned above it MUST be TOTALLY DRY before joining the pieces. Do NOT let ANY part come in contact where it’s NOT suppse to because it’s there for good once it touches. We usualy used 1”x2” Fir strips on the substrate (MDF or G1S Fir Ply) about 6” to 8” apart and slid them out as we progressed. Staining and Finishing did not create any problems for the Contact Cement.

-- It is not necessary for Some People to turn OFF the LIGHT to be IN the DARK! (Ontario, CANADA)

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