Veneer Tutorial

What you need:

-Contact Cement
-Disposable Brush
-Disposable Gloves
-Wax Paper
-Rolling-Pin or Veneer Roller
-X-Acto Knife or Razor Blades
-Filler (Durhams or Plastic Filler)

First and foremost, we need to measure and prepare our Veneer sheet. Measure the surface to be veneered and cut out at least 2 inches extra on each side of the veneer. This allows for wiggle room when attaching (if you want even more wiggle room, cut out extra space.)

(If applicable) Remove the original veneer. This process is about as simple and barbaric as it looks. Depending on the severity of delamination, using a chisel or a putty knife, one can pry and scrape the veneer off. Using a hammer can help drastically to tap loose free stuck areas, but be careful not to gouge the wood too badly (it’s bound to happen when using a chisel, but we’ll tend to that later.)If the veneer still has a tight bond, the use of a heat gun/hair dryer, or a wet rag and old seam iron might loosen the hold of the glue.

After we’ve cleaned the surface of rough patches and loose wood, we’ll fill any holes and gouges we may have created in the removal process. We use the same Plastic Filler compound that we sell on our site, and recommend it for the strong hold and durability of the substance. We also sell Durhams which is a water based filler of comparable hold and density. One Part filler can be substituted in some cases, but it’s much weaker overall.

After the filler has dried for its recommended duration, we must sand the surface as smooth as we can. Using a random orbit sander is recommended, but with a good bit of muscle work, hand sanding will also get the job done(Use Durhams if you have to sand by hand, Plastic filler is not realistic for hand sanding). The flatter the initial surface, the flatter the veneer will be!

Once we’ve sanded and brushed off the surface to be veneered - removing as much dust as possible - we’ll start the process of applying the adhesive.
We use Contact Cement, it’s a very strong and lasting adhesive, and is the most straight forward of possess we’ve tried.

Using a Disposable Brush, apply a liberal amount of the contact cement to both the surface and backside of the veneer. It’s a thick and slightly sticky substance when it’s wet, but becomes increasingly sticky as it dries. Because of this, you should try to apply it as evenly as possible with the brush while it’s still wet. Once it’s dry, there won’t be an easy way to flatten it out. Once both the surface and the veneer have 1 application applied, let them dry for ~1 hour (but no more than 2). Try to avoid getting any dust or debris on either surface, and DO NOT let them touch yet.

Test the tackiness of the drying adhesive using a clean piece of paper. If you can hear and feel the paper sticking badly, let it dry awhile longer. If there is only a little bit of sticking: perfect!

If you feel nothing at all, we generally apply a light 2nd coat to both surfaces, because the Contact Cement was mostly absorbed into the surfaces. This can be tricky to accomplish, as it’s significantly stickier than before. Try not to put too much on with each brush full to avoid making a pile that can’t be evenly spread around.

After the 2nd coat has dried, you’ll probably notice that the surface has a lot more stick to it. This is the desired effect at this point.

In order to prevent pockets from forming between the layers, we lay-down sheets of wax paper which the contact cement does not permanently stick to.

This gives you time to evenly line-up the veneer ‘prior’ to attaching it. Make sure your starting point is straight and the veneer does not veer off, because once it’s been attached, it usually cannot be unattached in one piece. So line it all up before removing the wax paper!

Once you can visualize how you’ll attach the veneer, peel up one end of the wax paper and make a small fold, exposing a strip of the adhesive. This way you can line up the veneer correctly, and then evenly lay down the veneer while slowly ‘peeling’ out the wax paper. Sounds more complicated than it is, trust me! Just take your time, and make sure you’re initially laying the veneer down straight and evenly.

Using the rolling-pin to press on the veneer after sliding the wax paper back several inches. The more you press down the veneer, in small advances, the tighter it’ll hold.

Repeat the process of sliding out several inches of wax paper, and pressing on the veneer with the rolling pin until the entire surface has been laid down.

Then, firmly press down and roll the veneer all along the surface to get a tight bond. If you hear any sticking, roll over that area repeatedly until it stays down.

If you get a bubble underneath the veneer, make a small incision along the grain-lines and squeeze both sides down to force out the air, then roll over that area several times. Finally, press along all the edges to ‘slightly’ crease the veneer. This will help show you where the edge is, displaying how much excess to cut off.

On the underside of the surface, use your knife to lightly score near the edge of the surface (careful not to cut the edge itself! You can leave a small spacer on this cut) to create a groove in the veneer, then cut along that same groove multiple times to slowly shave off the excess.

Then run your blade along the very edge itself to shave off any missed excess. A sharp knife makes all the difference here.

Finally, using 150 – 220 grit Sand Paper, smooth out the veneered edge. If there is any contact cement residue, rubbing it with your finger generally balls it up and peels off easily.

And there you have it, a re-veneered job well done!

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