Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. Furniture finishing Veneering Selecting VeneerTypes Of Commercially Available VeneerToday, there are many different types of veneer available to both hobbyists andprofessional. In general, veneers can be broken down into two categories,Flexible and Standard. Both are used extensively by pro and amateur, howeverthere are significant differences in cost and ease of application. I will brieflydescribe these two types of natural wood veneer.Just as every tree has its own character, so does every individual sheet ofveneer. When veneer is cut from a log, the manufactures are very careful tostack each sheet in the same order as it comes off the log. If this care was nottaken, and the sheets were stacked randomly, you would be unable to select andpurchase two or more sheets almost identical. This is especially important if youneed to joint two or more sheets together to create a wide matched panel.However, even matching sheets have some variation in grain and color.Whatever your source of supply, make sure the supplier offers consecutivelysliced sheets of veneer.Standard VeneerStandard veneer is what are fathers and grandfathers were used to working with.The sheets are cut from a log, stacked in consecutive order, then sent to a drierand once again stacked consecutively. Years ago, most standard veneers werecut to approx. 1/16" to 1/20" thick. With advances in cutting machinery andtechnology along with the need to get more material out of one log, today moststandard veneers are cut to a thickness of about 1/28" to 1/40". However, certainspecies of veneers like oak, walnut, maple, cherry, mahogany and some otherscan still be found in thicker sheets.Standard veneer is usually available in random widths ranging from about 3" to12". Some species like oak and mahogany which grow in larger diameters areavailable in wider sheets. Veneer distributors usually sell the sheets in 3 to 10foot lengths. However, many species are only available in short 3 foot lengths. Ifyou are purchasing standard veneer by the square foot and plan to apply it to adoor or kitchen table, make sure you specify if you need long sheets or you willprobably end up with 3 foot lengths. Standard veneer should not only bepurchased in consecutively sliced sheets, but it also should be of good quality:relatively flat, with little or no knots or sapwood, generally uniform in color, withvery few or no checks or splits. There are some exceptions to this. Certain highlyfigured veneers like burls and crotches are almost impossible to find in perfectlyflat sheets, free of splits or some knotholes. This is because highly figured woodsare not as stable as flat or quartered cut veneer and tend to warp and bucklemuch more. Therefore, do not be surprised if you purchase some burl veneerand it is wavy and includes some checks and knotholes. This is a Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 1
  2. 2. Furniture finishing Veneeringcondition for these types of veneer. Much more preparation has to go intoflattening, filling knotholes, and taping these types of standard veneers beforegluing them down. I will cover this in detail in a future document. Also,see thedocument on flattening veneers.Standard veneer is usually sold by the square foot. The price varies dependingupon species. Some species like poplur can be purchased for about 40 cents persq. ft. while others like ebony can run $3.50 to $4.00 per sq. ft. No matter whatspecies you are planning to work with, when working with standard veneer, makesure you purchase at least 20 to 30 percent more than what you actually need.This figure factors in waste and excess for trimming and jointing.Flexible VeneerOver the past 20 years, this new type of manufactured natural wood veneerproduct has been gaining popularity with both professional and amateur alike.Flexible veneer is manufactured by slicing very thin sheets of veneer (approx.1/64" thick) and then treating the veneer to make it more pliable. Once the cuttingand treating is done, the sheets of veneer are then jointed together to produce awide sheet. Finally, a paper type of backing is permanently mounted to the backto bond it and give more flexibility.The two main advantages are: Ease Of Application Because of its flexibility, itcan be cut easily using a craft knife or razor type blade. It can also be cut torough size with a pair of shears. Unlike some standard veneer, flex veneer canalso be easily bent around forms and contours without the need to wet or steamthe veneer. Available In Large Sheets The manufacture joints narrow slicestogether to produce a wide sheet. Most flex veneers are available in 18". 24". 36"or 48" widths and in lengths of 8, 10 or 12 feet. This saves the buyer a lot of time,especially if they would have to joint a number of narrow of pieces prior to gluingdown the sheet.There are other advantages to using flex veneer. Some species of burls are alsoavailable in flex. Not only are the smaller pieces pre-jointed to give you a largesheet, but the burl is perfectly flat, and any defects such as knotholes and orcracks have been filled and repaired. Flex veneer is sanded smooth at thefactory and needs little or no sanding prior to finishing. Because the actualveneer face is so thin, you can not do much sanding or you will cut through theface. Once the flex is glued to its surface and the glue has cured, it can befinished like any other veneer: (stained, filled, sealed, varnished, lacquered, oiledwaxed, etc.). By this time you may be asking "Then why should I use standardveneer?". The only consideration is price. Flex veneer is much more expensivethan standard. You are not only paying for the product, but also all the work themanufacture is saving you. For the pro, I feel it is still worth the extra cost, but forthe amateur, its a toss-up. If you have not worked with veneer, flex will be Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 2
  3. 3. Furniture finishing Veneeringeasier to handle and apply, but on the other hand, if you have the time to prepand joint standard veneer, the price may be too high.Trimming Veneer to SizeThe two most commonly used tools to cut and trim veneer are a veneer saw anda craft knife. I will cover the use of both these tools in this document.Veneer SawThe veneer saw is a neat little tool to cut veneer. Its teeth have no set andtherefore it cuts straight and resists the pull of stubborn grain which is veryimportant especially when you are ripping (cutting with the grain) veneer. Whenused properly, the saw will also produce a relatively clean cut. Because it has noset, it will leave a very narrow kerf.Crosscutting With The Veneer SawTo cut veneer to length you must cut against the grain of the wood. The grainusually runs parallel with the length of the veneer, therefore you must make a cutthat is roughly 90 degrees to the grain direction. Place a backing board on yourworkbench so you when you cut through the veneer, you will not damage yourworkbench surface. Now lay your veneer on top of the backing board. If your cuthas to be exactly square, use a trysquare or other accurate square. Use a pencilto mark your cut line on the face of the veneer. IMPORTANT NOTE: Always cutveneer slightly oversize, then after it is glued down, trim it flush to edges ofworkpiece. lay a metal or aluminum straightedge along the pencil line and placethe back of the veneer saw against the straightedge. make sure the saw will becutting on the waste side of the veneer, this way if you make a mistake, it will Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 3
  4. 4. Furniture finishing Veneeringruin your good stock. Refer to photo above for proper position of saw againststraightedge. When cutting against the grain, always cut from both edges towardthe center of the piece. If you attempt to cut across the grain from one edge tothe other, the veneer will most likely split of on the trailing edge. Do not try to cutthrough the veneer in one pass, take light passes until the saw cuts completelythrough the veneer. Some thicker and harder veneers may take longer to cut.Ripping With The Veneer SawBasicially, ripping (cutting with or parallel with the grain) is preformed the sameway as crosscutting with the exception of a few things. Fist, unlike crosscutting,you dont have to cut from one end into the center to avoid splitting. The trailingedge will not split out when ripping. Second, extra care should be taken to keepthe saw from pulling away from the straightedge. When ripping, the tool has atendency to pull away from the straightedge because alternating hard and softstreaks in the grain pattern The tool can catch in a soft area and pull away fromthe straightedge or hit a hard area and skip over the straightedge. Other thanthese two points, the method is the same as crosscutting.Craft KnifeOne of the best ways to acheive a clean, sharp cut is to use a craft knife.Commonly used by artists and hobbists, this tool has a metal handle with a slitjaw at the top which accepts razor sharp blades of many shapes. The shape bestsuited for cutting veneers is a #11 type blade. This blade has a very sharp pointthat will score as well as cut through veneer leaving a clean edge with nochipping.Using The Craft KnifeThe craft knife is used in a similar manner to the veneer saw. make sure you takevery light scoring passes with the tip of the knife. Once again, when crosscutting, Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 4
  5. 5. Furniture finishing Veneeringcut into the center from both edges. The craft knife has more of a tendency topull away from the straightedge than the veneer saw so be careful.Edge Jointing VeneerEdge Jointing Veneer If you are new to veneering, I suggest you read thedocuments on selecting and cutting veneer back on my homepage before youread this document. It will give you a better idea why many standard veneershave to be edge jointed. There are a number of ways to obtain a good, tight jointthat will be virtually invisible and will not lift or pull apart. While the followingmethod may not be the quickest or most practical, I have always had greatsuccess with it.If you are going to work with narrow sheets of veneer that have to be jointedtogether, make sure that you purchase the sheets in consecutive order as theywere cut from the log this way the grain pattern and figure will match when youjoin the pieces together.Book Matching is one of the most attractive methods of jointing pieces of veneertogether. This method is also called a two piece match and the two consecutivepieces to be jointed, will appear to be mirror images of each other. start by layingtwo consecutive pieces of veneer side by side. Open them in book fashion andinspect the pieces for quality, defects and if the two combined pieces will be largeenough to cover the surface you will be working on. The next step is to joint thetwo pieces together, but first, you must cut straight inside edges for a perfectlytight joint.Homemade Jointing JigThis jig can be made of two pieces of hardwood each piece approx. 6 incheswide,1 inch thick and about 4 inches longer than the length of the two pieces ofveneer you will be jointing. Clamp the two pieces of hardwood together andabout 1 inch in from each end drill a 1/4" hole through both pieces centered onthe width of the boards (3"). Next, Place 1/4" x 2 1/2" carriage bolts through theholes and add washers and wing nuts to the other side to hold the two boardstogether. Now remove the clamps. Tighten up the wing nuts so the boards areheld tightly together. Next, choose on side and either run this side over a jointer,or use a hand plane to joint the two edges together. Place an x mark on the sideof the two jointed Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 5
  6. 6. Furniture finishing VeneeringJointing The VeneerTake the two pieces of veneer to be jointed and insert them into the jig. Makesure the two edges that are to be jointed are just slightly projecting out of the sideof the jig that you jointed with your hand plane or jointer. Tighten up the carriagebolts to hold the veneer tightly in the jig. You can now use a hand plane set at aVERY SLIGHT CUT and run it across the edges of the veneer. When the veneeris flush and cannot be felt projecting out of the top edges of the jig, the jointing iscomplete. You can also take the jig and run it over a stationery jointer. Just makesure the jointer table is set to remove very little stock. after a few successivepasses, the jointer should be removing some of the stock on the jig, once thishappens, you will know that the veneer edges have been jointed flush.Taping The JointLay the two pieces of jointed veneer on a workboard with jointed edges together.MAKE SURE THE FACE SIDE OF EACH PIECE IS UP. To insure a tight joint, Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 6
  7. 7. Furniture finishing Veneeringuse veneer pins (these are similar to push pins used in corkboard to hold uppaper messages). Drive the pins into both pieces about one inch away from thejoint line. Make sure the pins are slanted toward the joint to bring the two edgestightly together. Dont worry about pinholes, once the veneer is glued down, theyare virtually invisible, and if needed can easily be filled later. Now cut a piece ofveneer tape slightly longer than the length of the joint. The tape will be applied tothe face side and will be removed after the veneer has been glued down. Moistenthe side of the tape that has the gum adhesive on it by lightly running it over adamp sponge. Next, place the tape over the center of the joint and press it downthe entire length of the joint. Remove the veneer pins and use a rubber orhardwood roller to insure the tape is firmly applied to the surface. After theveneer has been glued down, the veneer tape may be removed by lightlydampening with a sponge dampened with water and peeling off the tape. Oncethe tape has been removed, let any gum adhesive residue dry completely andthen scrape or sand the remainder of the residue off. It will turn to powder andcome off easily. If you try to sand while the residue is still damp, it will be pusheddown into the pores of the wood and create a gummy mess. After jointing, theveneer is ready to be glued down to its Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 7