help with veneer

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Forum topic by Ben posted 08-12-2010 12:40 AM 1319 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


372 posts in 2853 days

08-12-2010 12:40 AM

hi all.
some of you may have read my prior thread about building a small table with an elliptical apron.

i’ve made the apron out of 3 pieces of bending plywood, clamped and glued around a form.

i now have a piece of veneer for the outside, but only a slight idea of how to apply it. seems to be some mystical thing that no one knows about.

do i need MDF first? or can the bending ply be a suitable substrate? it’s a bit rough and has some slight surface cracks around the two tight radii. can i maybe fill with PC woody or something?

so how do i actually apply it?
it will be a 3” wide piece by 8’ long.

should i apply yellow glue to both surfaces, let dry, then apply it using an iron?
my dad has a tool for harvesting honey that looks like a big scraper that heats up electrically, too.

any advice is appreciated. i’m continuing to try to find info online but so far very fuzzy.


7 replies so far

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3127 days

#1 posted 08-12-2010 01:00 AM

Thouroghly sand the bending plywood with a block, so that it’s nice and smooth, but still flat. I wouldn’t try to use a filler, because the glue for the veneer won’t stick to it. Only put glue on the plywood, not the veneer. Use some more of the bending plywood as a caul, and use your strap clamps.

-- Gerry,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#2 posted 08-12-2010 01:00 AM

There is a special glue for applying veneer. It is made by Titebond. There is also a special product called veneer softener that should be applied if your veneer is brittle. You might want to use the veneer softener just because you are bending the veneer. I think (not certain) that Rockler carries both products.

The absolute best way to apply veneer is with a vacuum press but that probably won’t work in your situation. Nonetheless, the point is that you need uniform pressure all over the surface. This probably means forms and lots of clamps in your case.

I think it would be very difficult to do the entire apron at once. I think you will have to do it in sections and hopefully you can make the seams very inconspicuous.

You’ll want to make the surface underneath the veneer as smooth as possible.

Nothing is worse than seeing the veneer come loose a few years down the road. Take the time to do it right.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4121 days

#3 posted 08-12-2010 04:18 PM

Seems like every time the veneer question comes up there are several different techniques that work for different people, and each is convinced that the other techniques don’t work at all. For instance: I’m a “put the Titebond II on both surfaces, wait 3-4 hours, iron it together” person, and I’ve had both contact cement and attempts to use Titebond II on one surface and clamp with cauls and blocks fail disastrously. Other people swear by those latter two methods.

And I’m pretty much a newbie.

I think that there are details in the veneering process, and different things that we are or aren’t conscious of when we’re applying a technique that make some processes work and some not for different people. And there could be a lot just to what environments we’re deploying our work into: For instance, I’m in northern California in a place where we can have water condensing out of coastal fog in the morning, and be bone dry afternoons. That’s probably related to why contact cement just fails miserably for me, where many people swear by it.

If it were me: I’d smooth the surface. Use a filler. Apply a slightly thinned Titebond II to both surfaces with a disposable sponge brush (and, yes, this will cause some veneer curling). Wait 2-4 hours (no longer than 12!), and iron the veneer on. Then go back with some 220 grit sandpaper and a thin cyanoacrylate glue and fill any gaps (because the glue on the veneer does make the grain open up a bit, especially with wider grained woods like white oak) by pouring in the cyanoacrylate and hand-sanding a bit to generate sawdust.

And Gerry will give you completely different instructions that work for him, but for me would undoubtedly leave bubbles under the veneer that I’d never fill.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3664 days

#4 posted 08-12-2010 05:57 PM

Since you can get bendable ply, I will assume you can also get 1/8” mdf. In an effort to save time and avoid any telegraphing through the veneer, I would glue 1/8” mdf over the bendable ply to give you a perfectly flat and smooth surface.

I agree with Gerry as far as the process for gluing it on. I would only add that on the bendable ply caul, line it with some cork and tape over it with box tape. The tape will keep the veneer from sticking to your caul and the cork will help to even out pressure over the entire surface.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 08-12-2010 06:38 PM

This is what a veneer hammer and hyde glue were made for, well not really but it is where they excell. You use an iron to melt the glue and the hammer like a squeege, until it starts to grab the substraight. There are no clamps to deal with and you dont have to figure out how to hold it on a curved surface. The best part is you can loosen the glue again by applying heat if you need to.

View bill1352's profile


130 posts in 3118 days

#6 posted 08-13-2010 02:31 PM

look up for all the info you need. I would also recommend a veneer softener. He has some there that I use. You will want a call for even pressure. Without it you risk bubbles in the veneer. It might be best to make a mdf form to glue it up in.

-- Keep Your Stick On The Ice

View Ben's profile


372 posts in 2853 days

#7 posted 08-14-2010 02:31 PM

many t hanks to all of you.
i’ve decided to try joe’s “heatlock” glue and the iron-on method.
i will keep you posted with progress.

thanks again.

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