Introduction: Basic Wood Veneering Techniques Made Easy!

Picture of Basic Wood Veneering Techniques Made Easy!

Start veneering today! Veneering is a fantastic way to spice up your woodworking. It is much easier than you think and you don't need a lot of fancy tools either!

Materials needed:

  • Veneer
  • Substrate (MDF, Plywood, or Solid Wood)
  • Glue I usually use regular white glue, but there are many other options.(white glue, yellow glue, cold press veneer glue or urea glue)

Tools Required:

  • Utility knife
  • Cutting mat (optional)
  • Sticky back sandpaper
  • Scraps of wood
  • Glue roller or paint brush
  • Straight edge
  • Veneer Press. You can use wooden cauls and clamps or a vacuum press. Cauls and clamps will work great for small projects.

Step 1: Number Your Veneer

Picture of Number Your Veneer

When you get veneer it is in the same sequence as it was when they sliced it off the log. It is important to keep track of this. I like to number the sheets of veneer in multiple spots so that I can still identify the veneer sequence after I start cutting it up.

Step 2: Cut Veneer to Size

Picture of Cut Veneer to Size

When working with veneer you will need to cut it and join the edges very much the same way you would with solid wood. I usually use a straight edge and a regular fixed blade utility knife to cut my veneer. One trick is to put sticky back sandpaper on the back side of the straight edge. This helps to hold the veneer in place when you are cutting it. I cut on the waste side of the veneer and hold the straight edge on the side that I want to keep. That helps to protect the edge of the keeper piece from chipping as it is being cut.

Another trick is to joint the edges of the veneer after cutting. Again, this is similar to the way you would prepare solid wood before gluing it together.

I have a square piece of aluminum tubing with some sticky back sandpaper on one side (a square stick of wood will work just fine for this). I place the veneer between two scraps of wood. One to hold it up off of the bench and the other to hold it in place. I hang the edge of the veneer over the edge of the scrap wood just by just 1/4" or so.

Then I rub the sandpaper along the edge of the veneer. This squares the edge of the veneer and removes any roughness from when I cut it.

Step 3: Tape the Pieces Together

Picture of Tape the Pieces Together
  • Next, use blue painter's tape on the back side of the veneer to temporarily hold the sheets together. Press a piece of painter's tape on one side of the joint. Then pull firmly on the tape while holding the two pieces of veneer together, and press the other side of the tape on to the other side of the joint.

(Apply just enough tape to hold veneer together along all of the seams.)

  • Then flip the veneer over and add veneer tape on to the show side. Veneer tape is thin paper tape with moisture sensitive adhesive on one side and it is very easy to work with. Just tear off a piece of tape, moisten it, and press it along the seam.
  • Remove the blue tape after you have veneer tape along all of the seams on the show side.

Step 4: Apply Glue and Place Veneer on to Substrate

Picture of Apply Glue and Place Veneer on to Substrate

There are many different types of glue for veneer. I usually use regular white glue. Another good choice is cold press veneer glue. The main difference between these is that the cold press glue is thicker so it is less likely to bleed through if you use a vacuum bag.

The three most common substrates for veneer are: MDF, Plywood, and Solid Wood. I prefer MDF because it is perfectly flat and very resistant to wood movement, but plywood and solid wood are also very popular choices.

  • Apply a thin, but ample layer of glue on to the substrate. Too much glue may leave lumps under the veneer.
  • Quickly lay the veneer on to the glued panel.
  • Use small pieces of painter's tape around the edges to hold it in place until you put it into the press.

Note: We normally veneer both sides of a panel to minimize warping. In this example I placed mahogany veneer on one side and some book matched walnut veneer on the opposite side.

(I will post another Instructable next week on how to do a 4-Way Book Match)

Step 5: Press Veneer on to Substrate

Picture of Press Veneer on to Substrate

Most people use a vacuum bag to press their veneer, but you can get started in veneering without one. You can easily press veneer on to small panels using cauls and regular woodworking clamps. I used a vacuum bag for this demonstration.

  • Place the panel into the bag
  • Cover the panel with a piece of terry cloth or some kind of mesh material to ensure that the air is removed evenly across the entire panel. (I use cloth window screen material)
  • Seal the bag, attach the pump and let it run for at least 25 minutes (with white glue)

Step 6: Remove Veneer Tape and Admire Your Work!

Picture of Remove Veneer Tape and Admire Your Work!

You can remove the veneer tape anytime after it comes out of the press.

I lightly moisten the veneer tape with a damp rag to soften the glue. With this method I can remove most of the tape with my fingers. I gently remove what's left with a card scraper and/or a random orbit sander.

I am always eager to see how the panel looks with that first coat of finish!

I have had great success with these techniques and I know that there are other methods of working with veneer. Please leave a comment and let me know how you liked my Basic Veneering Instructable!

Thanks for reading my Instructable!


I was able to include much more detail about this on my woodworking blog:

I also made a video to make it easier to follow:


Josehf Murchison (author)2016-12-05

What contests is this entered into?

Thanks! I didn't enter any contests. Is there one that I should have?

You should be eligible for, "Tables and Desk Contest", and Epilog as is.

But you might want to add:

Great for finishing tables and desk tops.

Thanks Josehf!!!

You are welcome

JohnC430 (author)2016-12-05

where did u buy the veneer? I have an antique table with a veneer top that has been damaged and i want to give it a new face.

I recommend contacting Certainly Wood. They are a large and very reputable veneer supplier.

ronjohnstone (author)2016-12-04

Why use veneer tape, which necessitates using water to remove it which will raise the grain and then necessitate sanding, when you could use painters tape which comes off clean without water?

Veneer tape has been the historical favorite because you do not need to remove it first since it disappears when sanding the finished faces anyway, thus saving that step.

I have done it that way, too. Just sand it off. Certainly that works, but somehow I feel better when I remove the tape before sanding. Thanks!

That is a great question. I have thought about that, but have not tried it. Do you use painters tape for your veneer work?

No, never tried doing veneer although I have a sheet of it to repair a table that is missing some veneer. Just haven't gotten around to it. For pressing small pieces of veneer I'm thinking of using a very sturdy plastic bag such as found in a 5 liter bag of wine, filled with warm water to apply even pressure over about a square foot area. Seems much easier than clamping and it won't damage the frame.

3dscarl (author)ronjohnstone2016-12-04

Charlie is right about the pressure from water. if you think of even 50l of water displaced over 500x500mm, its not really much pressure per cm. if you want to create even pressure use a planned piece of wood to increase the distance of the clamp from the surface your gluing.

Pressure from a clamp spreads 45° on both sides from the feet. depending on your constraints. just moving the foot 100mm from the glue increases it to over 200mm that you have equally pressed.

Finally repairing and old table means probably using PUR not normal white wood glue since there will be glue still in the surface of the wood.

woodglue spreads its water into the wood and hardens that way, PUR actually absorbs water from the wood and veneer. If you have a moisture meter check the moisture of the surface and veneer. if its 8% or lower you can use a damp cloth (almost dry) with warm water quickly across the parts your gluing is the woods really dry, Just incase you didn't know.

Charlie Kocourek (author)3dscarl2016-12-04

Good info about the glue, Carl!

3dscarl (author)Charlie Kocourek2016-12-04

only downside to pur is it dries white so need to be careful if your restoring with original finishing intact. That and it stinks like hell, not as much as the bone and blood glue we restore with mind.. thats disgusting haha.

Charlie Kocourek (author)3dscarl2016-12-04

Thanks for the heads up! I haven't tried PUR yet.

ronjohnstone (author)3dscarl2016-12-04

Absolutely excellent advice, many thanks!

Maybe try a test piece, a bag of water might not provide enough pressure.

3dscarl (author)ronjohnstone2016-12-04

We use veneer tape in our workshop (Möbeltischlerei) because we have a press what can heat upto 240°c. I assume he's using veneer tape because its habit of learning the correct way to handle veneer.
Using masking tape to warm press means the glue melts into the wood, glue can go through the 0.6mm veneer making the entire surface usless.

I've never used Masking tape for veneer myself. Rather use tape that's made for the job. regardless of the extra work what might be involved.

I also know that when veneer tape is dry it holds so much that you can carry a 3000mm × 2000mm veneer sheet with 10 pieces of veneer taped with ease (2 people).

sorry if i use incorrect terms, I'm a British carpenter trained and living in Germany so the correct terms fail me.

Charlie Kocourek (author)3dscarl2016-12-04

Thanks Carl!

ronjohnstone (author)3dscarl2016-12-04

You are, of course, absolutely correct not to use "sticky tape" in conjunction with a hot press as it would most probably cause staining/finishing problems. But, for cold pressing, it would certainly be easier and worth at least a test with scrap materials.

hmv4u (author)2016-12-04

a very well made instructable and video,takes the fear out of veneering-thanks

Charlie Kocourek (author)hmv4u2016-12-04

Wow, thanks for the nice comment! I'm glad you liked it.

BeachsideHank (author)2016-12-02

If one owns a car, they have the makings for a decent veneer press in the boot/ trunk:

I have even found screw jacks roadside too. ☺

That is a brilliant idea!

seamster (author)2016-12-03

Very good info. Thanks!

Thanks! I am glad you liked it.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a woodworker, blogger and YouTube content creator. I love woodworking, problem solving and designing new things.
More by Charlie Kocourek:Fun With Wood Veneer! - 4 Way Book MatchBasic Wood Veneering Techniques Made Easy!How to Repair Figured Wood Veneer
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