Author Topic: Using veneers in Projects  (Read 13383 times)

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Online Peter Halle

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Using veneers in Projects
« on: August 19, 2012, 07:37 PM »
We have had some fabulous images of veneer usage here over the years, and after a trip to my storage shed I was wondering:

Do you use veneers that you glue up on your substrates in your projects?

If so, would you mind sharing for our members why, how, and some details?

Don't worry, I don't have 5,000 sq ft of Festool Green dyed veneer sitting in my shed.  Nor do I have any Festool blue.

Peter

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Offline Jesse Cloud

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 12:48 AM »
Hey Peter,
I'll kick it off...

My number 1 reason for using veneer is the quality of the wood.  All the best wood these days goes to making veneer.  The sawyer can get a lot more money out of dozens of 1/32 sheets than one chunk of 8/4.  If you look at, say a big conference table, anything other than veneer is just cost prohibitive.

Number 2 is that veneer can follow a curve - if you want a bowed front or a column, you can make a form from mdf ribs and bending ply with veneer on the show face.

Veneer can be applied with clamps, but mostly its done with a vacuum pump and a bag.  The entry is a little pricey, but the stuff pops up on craigslist often and there are lots of sites (joewoodworker.com is my favorite) that show how to make your own.

There are a few tricks to cutting it, to joining pieces together and etc.  If you have a specific project in mind, we could probably offer better advice.

BTW, if you found some veneer that's been in the storage shed for a while, its likely to be brittle and shaped like a potato chip.  Not to worry, there's a process for flattening and softening the stuff.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 12:51 AM by Jesse Cloud »

Offline RonWen

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 05:19 AM »

BTW, if you found some veneer that's been in the storage shed for a while, its likely to be brittle and shaped like a potato chip.  Not to worry, there's a process for flattening and softening the stuff.

I've got a bunch in my barn that is as you've described -- what is the salvage process?

Offline PaulMarcel

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 05:56 AM »

BTW, if you found some veneer that's been in the storage shed for a while, its likely to be brittle and shaped like a potato chip.  Not to worry, there's a process for flattening and softening the stuff.

I've got a bunch in my barn that is as you've described -- what is the salvage process?

Impossible to salvage the burls so just send them to me for disposal  [tongue]


Should just need to flatten it.  Spray on veneer softener, put between clean newsprint or packing paper, put a board on it with weights until the stack gives in.  Switch papers 2-3 times until it is mostly dry, but still keep it between flat boards in clamps.  If it is very dry where you're at and you have burls, they'll turn Pringles on you quickly if you leave them out of the 'press'.

My latest project has veneered panels.  The underside of the drawer tiers are just more curly Maple; nothing special (but did bookmatch it) mostly so it is the flat continuation of the angles sides.  The top panels, though, are typical book and end match of Maple burls.

I dunno if it will answer all your questions, but the latest episode posted covers the flattening, jointing, taping, gluing process; this only does bookmatching of the curly Maple.  The one on my disk awaiting a bit more recording tomorrow night will be up in a couple days. It'll have the different way I'm doing the book and end match (4-way bookmatch) of Maple burl and show how to detect and fix bubbles (dammit).  I'm using a vacuum bag for all of it.
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Offline RonWen

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 08:31 AM »

BTW, if you found some veneer that's been in the storage shed for a while, its likely to be brittle and shaped like a potato chip.  Not to worry, there's a process for flattening and softening the stuff.

I've got a bunch in my barn that is as you've described -- what is the salvage process?

Impossible to salvage the burls so just send them to me for disposal  [tongue]


Should just need to flatten it.  Spray on veneer softener, put between clean newsprint or packing paper, put a board on it with weights until the stack gives in.  Switch papers 2-3 times until it is mostly dry, but still keep it between flat boards in clamps.  If it is very dry where you're at and you have burls, they'll turn Pringles on you quickly if you leave them out of the 'press'.

My latest project has veneered panels.  The underside of the drawer tiers are just more curly Maple; nothing special (but did bookmatch it) mostly so it is the flat continuation of the angles sides.  The top panels, though, are typical book and end match of Maple burls.

I dunno if it will answer all your questions, but the latest episode posted covers the flattening, jointing, taping, gluing process; this only does bookmatching of the curly Maple.  The one on my disk awaiting a bit more recording tomorrow night will be up in a couple days. It'll have the different way I'm doing the book and end match (4-way bookmatch) of Maple burl and show how to detect and fix bubbles (dammit).  I'm using a vacuum bag for all of it.

I wasn't aware of such a product.   [huh]  I see Woodcraft sells it.

Sir, you ALWAYS answer all of my questions...  [tongue]

Offline RL

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 09:14 AM »
You may find that nowadays fragile burl veneers in particular are attached to a paper backing, which prevents them from disintegrating, and reduces the need for a veneer softener.

I love veneer work. You can take almost any shape and veneer it. Veneering gives you shape, colour and design options that solid work generally cannot.

My first veneer project was a simple cube using maple burl veneer. My substrate was MDF but since then I have generally used plywood or pine. I use yellow or white PVA glue but am interested in Titebond's cold veneer press glue for the future.

I normally use a vacuum press although I have veneered smaller component pieces with just clamps and cauls. I picked up a second-hand Vacupress system a few months ago to replace my previous pump.

The key to successful veneering is good preparation for the glue-up. If everything is cut right, the platens are sized right in the bag, and the glue is to hand, then getting it all into the bag quickly before the glue sets up is less tricky. I use a paint roller for spreading the glue quickly and to get good even coverage.

There is a lot of talk about the need to veneer both sides of a panel in order to balance the veneer. I do not find this is always the case. If the panel is small, or the substrate is thick then I do not consider veneering the backside to be necessary. Using a plywood substrate is in itself a glued-up set of veneers, which is one reason why I prefer it to MDF.

One of the benefits of veneer work is the need for very little equipment. Once you make the initial outlay for a pump and bag, that's about all you need. I like to cut my veneers on a self-healing mat with an X-Acto knife.

P.S. If anyone needs the name of an excellent veneer supplier, I know a company here in Montreal which has outstanding veneers for sale. No affiliation, just friendly service and an excellent inventory.


Offline Steve Rowe

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 09:29 AM »
I also use veneers primarily because with certain woods such as Carpathian Elm Burl and other burls, it is your only option.  I also use it for geometric design effects such as starbursts.  I have not used any paper backed veneers so cannot comment on them.  The burls pretty much demand the use of veneer softener and flattening which is a bit time consuming.

Like others, I use a vacuum press and it is very effective and easy to use.  For cauls, I like melamine coated mdf or particle board which releases glue squeeze out easily with no need for wax paper.  I also use evacunet above the cauls which minimizes vacuum pump cycling.

For adhesive, I really like Unibond 800.  I also use the blocker for open grained woods as I have discovered the hard way that this is necessary.  I have tried other granular mix veneer adhesives and don't care for them at all.  The Unibond is much easier to mix.  In addition, it provides a rigid glue joint so there is no springback if you use it to laminate curves.

Offline VSM_4

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 11:04 AM »
There is a lot of talk about the need to veneer both sides of a panel in order to balance the veneer. I do not find this is always the case. If the panel is small, or the substrate is thick then I do not consider veneering the backside to be necessary. Using a plywood substrate is in itself a glued-up set of veneers, which is one reason why I prefer it to MDF.

This was the main reason for one of my first jaunts into the world of veneering.  We purchased some exotic veneer plywood at a 'way to good to be true' price and it was horrible.  Anytime the plywood was cut it would warp and bow to the point of being unusable. We needed long flat surfaces, so we veneered our own panels with an MDF core.  Paper backed Zebrawood on the top with a birch backer veneer.  They stayed dead flat.
 

I know it was the cheap Chinese plywood that was crappy, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Maybe I will try it again with some Baltic birch or at least a quality plywood.  

Depending on if this is a desirable characteristic or not, MDF adds some heft to the piece.  Though, I have had to explain how a piece of MDF with exotic veneer that I make is not = to Ikea veneered MDF/particle board.  Veneered MDF seems to carry a stigma from everyone's experience with cheap knock down furniture.    

I recently purchased a bunch of crotch and burl veneer, but decided it was too flamboyant for my current project.  I was excited to use it, but it just didn't fit.        


I think they require a delicate touch, simple and clean lines - Richard's purse cabinet is a great example.  
  
My first project out of school - Elm burl

  
Vinny

Offline RL

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 11:14 AM »
Ouch, that plywood sounds nasty!

I should have mentioned that the plywood itself needs to be stable. I always use the good stuff and have not yet had a problem.

That showroom looks amazing by the way.

Offline PaulMarcel

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 12:11 PM »
Yeah, amazing showroom!!
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Offline Jesse Cloud

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 01:03 PM »
Vindingo - great work!  I am amazed by how well veneer works both in modern and period applications.   You have a great eye!

On the plywood vs mdf theme, I use both.  I have had hidden voids telegraph their shape into veneer work after glue up, so when I'm nervous, I use mdf.  On the other hand, I love the 1/8th inch 3 ply bending ply for shaping bowed or serpentine pieces.

Richard, I agree that you don't always have to veneer both sides, especially if you have a thick substrate or the piece will be mechanically secured.  On the other hand, I once veneered one side of 1/4 mdf and you could watch the bow form as soon as I released the caul. [scared]

By the way, same holds true on the myth that you need to apply the same finish to both sides of a hardwood piece.  For instance, Stickley didn't finish the bottom of his tabletops, but they remain flat even today.

Here's a project of mine, a demilune table with a sunburst and half-moon inset.  The rays are cherry, the half moon is maple.  Substrate is 3/4 mdf, glued with Titebond cold press.
54617-0

Offline Tim Raleigh

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 01:05 PM »
I buy 8ft x 12 ft. panels with veneer on them.

We needed long flat surfaces, so we veneered our own panels with an MDF core.  Paper backed Zebrawood on the top with a birch backer veneer.  They stayed dead flat.

How did you glue up the veneer on those panels, vacuum bag, cauls?

My first project out of school - Elm burl

Beautiful cabinets. Nice design too.

Tim

Offline VSM_4

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2012, 02:00 PM »
How did you glue up the veneer on those panels, vacuum bag, cauls?

Vacuum bag with urea glue. 


Jesse Cloud mentioned it earlier, Joewoodworker.com is where got most of my info and supplies. 

Vinny

Offline woodguy7

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2012, 02:01 PM »
Every article I have ever read says you should ALWAYS veneer both sides.  Does not have to be the same veneer, just a veneer.  I have never done any veneering (would love to, someday) so I can't really give an opinion.  If I were to veneer a flat panel I would cover both faces.

Jessie, stunning table.

Vin, wow !  Did you design & make all those display cabinets & do you have more pictures of them ?
When you say your first project out of school, do you mean some sort of furniture college or just plain old school ?
If its made of wood, i can make it smaller.
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p.s- ive started reading these too

Offline VSM_4

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2012, 02:24 PM »
Vin, wow !  Did you design & make all those display cabinets & do you have more pictures of them ?
When you say your first project out of school, do you mean some sort of furniture college or just plain old school ?

It was architecture school.  Probably one of the worst things I have ever done.

My design (a bastardized version  to save $$$) on the casework. My mother and I did the interior and architectural design for the project.  Its a bit gaudy for my taste, but it was a fun project. 

more photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35214159@N05/sets/72157630580158972/with/7572105282/   
Vinny

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2012, 02:44 PM »
Vinny, Vinny, Vinny, you should seriously re think why you are getting out of the industry. You are way too talented. And what son doesnt want to work side by side with his Mom? You two make a great team. Eric

Offline RL

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2012, 03:41 PM »
Wood guy it's simply not true that you always have to veneer both sides.

In antique furniture only one side was ever veneered. It's to do with the glue more than anything. I rarely veneer both sides.

Vinny That's terrific work.

Offline VSM_4

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2012, 04:02 PM »
Wood guy it's simply not true that you always have to veneer both sides.

In antique furniture only one side was ever veneered. It's to do with the glue more than anything. I rarely veneer both sides.

Vinny That's terrific work.

Thanks,

to keep on veneers-  Do you think that is because they used hide glue?   

Do you run your veneer parallel or perpendicular to the substrate if you are using solid wood? 
Vinny

Offline RL

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2012, 05:22 PM »
Yes I think it's because it was unnecessary with hide glue, but even with the PVA that I use I have usually found it unnecessary. I suppose others have a different point of view. Fair enough.

I don't think about which way the grain runs. Maybe I should, but usually I haven't had to worry about it because I am using plywood, or MDF, or a burl veneer or some combination of them.


Offline kcufstoidi

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2012, 06:48 PM »
I had a customer that wanted some walnut burl door panels made for a project he was working on. The walnut was glued up using Unibond 800 and MDF in a vacuum veneer bag. The walnut veneer was porous so I used a few drops of burnt umber and black die to colour the Unibond glue. The panels were all balanced with plain black walnut applied to the back. A Two Cherries veneer saw is invaluable when doing this type of glueup.

54619-0
before gluing and pressing

54621-1
after pressing with a little sanding

54623-2

John

Offline Tim Raleigh

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 09:19 AM »
The walnut veneer was porous so I used a few drops of burnt umber and black die to colour the Unibond glue. The panels were all balanced with plain black walnut applied to

That looks great, lots of action in those pieces.
Tim


Offline RonWen

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Re: Using veneers in Projects
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 12:14 PM »
   
My first project out of school - Elm burl

  

First class!