Really wide veneer cabinet / press

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 01-29-2018 05:53 PM 286 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

557 posts in 1405 days

01-29-2018 05:53 PM

Hi all,

I’m in the process of adding more organization to my shop and since veneering is one of my favorite things so far, I’ve decided that I need two things:

1) A place to store veneer safely.

2) A veneer press

With that being said, I have a tiny shop and I don’t have space for a screw-clamp type veneer press. I have a space for a cabinet that would net out around 72” wide, 24” tall, and 36-40” deep which I think would be large enough to store any veneers that I’d be using for the kinds of projects I work on.

I’m looking for feedback and suggestions for this project idea:

My initial plan is to essentially build a flat file type cabinet, with two or three drawers for holding veneers and possibly other items, with the top drawer being a “frame press” style vacuum system. Joe Woodworker over at has a great article on building a vacuum frame press:

I like this design better than a bag system. Instead of utilizing a workbench or outfeed table, I would prefer to build it into a drawer so that once the vacuum is drawn and I’m waiting for the glue to cure, I can simply push the drawer back into the cabinet and come back to it later. This frees up my small shop so I can continue working on other items.

There are some challenges here, first off, I realize that building drawers that are much wider than they are deep can pose problems with whatever slides are used. Secondly, I would need heavy duty full extension + overtravel slides for a 36” deep drawer, which might be expensive or hard to get.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

5 replies so far

View shipwright's profile


7940 posts in 2734 days

#1 posted 01-29-2018 08:11 PM

Do you have wall space?

These hold a lot of veneer in not much space.

I have a personal preference for screw presses because I have a personal preference for the advantages of hide glue, one of which is that you can achieve “miracles” by clamping with hot cauls. I also use hot cauls a lot for flattening veneer without the use of foreign substances.
You can’t use them with vacuum bag type systems because they won’t take the heat.

Screw clamp presses don’t have to take up a lot of space when not In use. They can be just a set of frames and a removable platen that all comes apart and stores in a small area.
If you are “plain” veneering you can hammer veneer with hot hide glue and you don’t need a press at all.
How large are your proposed glue-ups?

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

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

129 posts in 640 days

#2 posted 01-29-2018 08:56 PM

Hey William,

I’d never seen a frame press before, that’s pretty cool!

I couple challenges with using a drawer that I see:

Routing the vacuum hose into a closed drawer. You’ll need to keep vacuum pressure applied for several hours, if not overnight (depending on the glue you use and the project). That means keeping the hose attached to your frame for that length of time.

Heat – some cold-bond veneer press glues require a minimum ambient temperature of 70 degrees. If your shop is always that warm, no problem. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a way to warm that drawer. Most people use electric blankets to keep their projects toasty while they’re in the vacuum press. That might be challenging to do in a closed drawer.

Size – probably the most obvious, but you’re very limited as to the size project you can do. The only way to go bigger is to build a bigger drawer or resort to using a table.

Still sounds like a fun project with interesting challenges!

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View Lazyman's profile


1819 posts in 1323 days

#3 posted 01-29-2018 11:28 PM

+1 on hot hide glue and hammer veneering. For small pieces, you don’t need a press or anything else that takes up space. Prep & heat the glue (I store prepped glue in my shop mini-fridge next to the beer), slather it on the substrate and veneer, hammer it down, let glue set, clean off the surface glue with water & done. I covered this mirror with veneer using this method and it was one to the funnest things I have done. There is something about the crackle you get when when hammering veneer that is very gratifying.

Checkout Shipwright’s blogs and YouTube video for more info.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

557 posts in 1405 days

#4 posted 01-30-2018 11:24 PM

Hey thanks for the info. I did see the posts about using hot cauls to flatten veneers and how that can’t be done with a vacuum system, which is fine. I will make do without. The issue isn’t the space to store the press, it’s how much space it takes up while it’s being used. I actually have very little wall space and also very little workbench space. A drawer that can be pushed out of the way saves both.

Regarding cure temperature of glues, I hadn’t thought about that but I suppose it would be possible to use a couple of the heating pads that are for reptile tanks, or maybe the ones used for seedling trays? They raise the temperature a little but not out of control.

Honestly at this point I’m more interested in “how do you build a really wide drawer that doesn’t suck?”.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Lazyman's profile


1819 posts in 1323 days

#5 posted 01-31-2018 02:59 PM

I just reread your OP and now I see that you are talking about a large press and really long and fairly deep drawers. I read “file cabinet” and was thinking small.

Instead of using traditional drawer slides perhaps you could make a drawer that has rollers (sort of like garage door rollers but a skateboard wheel might work too) that ride in a track along the insides of the cabinet and use fold down legs to support the side away from the cabinet when it is pulled out? In other words, the outside of the drawer would be supported by the legs when pulled out and the other would be supported by the drawer track of the cabinet. You would have to hold the outside up as you pull it out until you fold the legs down.

Alternatively, you could simply make a set of nesting tables that slide on wheels, each table a little smaller than the one above it. This approach would also allow you to move them around the shop if you have room or a need for that.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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