veneer gluing

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Forum topic by RickB posted 01-04-2011 06:17 PM 2422 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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48 posts in 3162 days

01-04-2011 06:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: veneer


Short version of my question:

How do you glue veneer onto a piece of plywood when one’s veneer pieces are smaller/narrower than the plywood? How do you get the edges of the veneer to mate up well?

Long version:

I’m desiring to make a large-ish dining room table for my wife. Still in the planning/dreaming stage. I’d like to splurge and put Koa veneer onto plywood and use this for the top. I did a little research and found some Koa veneer. One vender sells it in long strips; like 5 inches wide and 100 inches long.

Getting it glued down is not my question. More my question is how do you get the edges of the veneer straight? When you lay the veneer down, how do you get the edges to mate up nicely, to make the top look like a glued up panel. If I were to try it right now, I imagine a lot of gaps between adjacent veneer pieces where you can see the plywood substrate underneath.

Thanks for any suggestions.


4 replies so far

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3493 days

#1 posted 01-04-2011 06:25 PM

Method A: trim the edges of the veneer for a good fit, use veneer tape on the show side to hold them together and finally glue all down to substrate. Veneer tape can be easily removed with a damp sponge and card scraper after removing piece from press or vacuum bag.

Method B: Add one piece of veneer to substrate. Align second piece with very small overlap and glue down. Cut through both with veneer saw or knife. Remove excess. This is easier to do when the glue has not fully set or if you are using hide glue you can go along with a heat gun and remelt the glue to remove the excess piece.

There are variations on these two but this is about as basic as it gets.

If you need to butt two piece together end to end (as oppose to side to side) a variation on method B is to overlap them by about an inch and instead of cutting a straight line, cut a wavy or angled line so that your cut line doesn’t run perpendicular to the grain to better disguise it.

Also, plan to veneer the BACK of the plywood too. Species on the back won’t matter unless it somehow shows. Use the cheapest stuff you can get. Also, with plywood try and lay the veneer perpendicular to the surface grain. Think of it as adding another layer to the plywood and they alternate grains. This can’t always be done, such as with circular or corner matches.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 01-04-2011 06:28 PM

short answer:
you joint the edges of the veneer.

long answer:
you take 2 strips of veneer, put them face to face so that the edges that would mate are both on top, clamp in your vise, or clamp down to your workbench so that the edges protrude from the workbench slightly, and using a jointer plane joint those edges at the same time.

Then lay both strips edge to edge face down/up on the workbench and take blue painters tape and tape the seem. turn the veneer over, slightly bend them up so that the glue edge becomes exposed (folds open) put glue on, and press back down on the workbench to close the joint edge, place blue tape on top to clamp the edge closed, let dry. (probably should cover your workbench to avoid glue on it or other alternative)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3217 days

#3 posted 01-04-2011 06:50 PM

This is the video I used to learn to joint veneer when I made my nightstand table tops. Use a veneer saw though instead of a razor blade and take light cuts. PS, make sure to veneer both sides of plywood or it will warp when drying.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3493 days

#4 posted 01-04-2011 08:30 PM

few more thoughts:

re: Eric’s video post
If you decide to use a veneer saw, sharpen it first. Most do NOT come sharpened and will just bugger up the veneer. A few do come sharpened, the new one from Grammercy (Tools for Working Wood) does. And I think Lee Valley may offer one. Otherwise they aren’t hard to sharpen but you don’t do it exactly like a standard saw either.

re: use of masking tape or painter’s tape
While you can use low tack blue tape if you are like me and sometimes have to leave a project on the bench for a while, DON’T use masking tape. Even the blue stuff will leave residue in the pores that can cause you trouble. Veneer tape is cheap and don’t fret the differences of no-hole, 2-hole or 3-hole types. If you can be sure to remove the tape in a few hours, it is fine. Also, don’t press standard masking tape as you will be driving the adhesive down into the pores. Blue tape may still do this but to a lesser degree.

re: jointing of edges
You don’t need power tools for this except perhaps to make two jointing boards. MDF works fine. Make two boards longer than your pieces by several inches. Also make them at least 3” or 4” wide. Fold your two pieces together, face to face and clamp between the boards. Have the edges of the boards flush. A couple of bolts and wing nuts work great here. Now you can joint using just some PSA sandpaper on a block. Maybe 120 to 150 grit, might take a little experimenting. Or you can use a block planes set for a very fine cut. MDF is rough on the blade though, FYI. Once in a while you may need to re-joint your reference boards. If you have a bunch of pieces to joint, you can make a packet of many layers, clamp them and then run the whole thing across a power jointer, through a table saw or use a router and pattern bearing. Keep in mind that for all these methods, have absolutely as little veneer sticking out as possible so you don’t grab the grain and just follow it down making a ragged edge.

Lots and lots of technique involved in veneering. Most all are pretty simple and there are plenty of books and videos out there to push you along.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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