Introduction: Wood Veneer Laptop Mod

Picture of Wood Veneer Laptop Mod
This is my first Instructable YAY! In this Instructable I will show you how to apply a wood veneer finish to your laptop to achieve an old school look to modern tech.

Disclaimer: I'm not responsable for any permanent damgage to your laptop, if you don't want to permanently change your laptop than this is not for you.... this is not reversable. Be sure to take proper percaution when using liquids near laptop.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The materials you will need for this project:
1) Laptop
2) A sheet of wood veneer(you can pick this up at most hardware stores like home depot)
3) Gold paint( if you can disassemble your laptop safely then use spray paint to give an extra shinny smooth look, I simply used a gold paint pen, I tried many different paints including enamels and acrylics,but they all chipped too easily... but the paint pen held up well. use a plastic primmer if possible(any tips you could leave me in the comment section of better ideas would be appreciated))
4) Brass wire(for edging)
5) Misc. ornamental jewelery(for decorating the top)
6) Paper(for tracing design)
7) Xacto knife
8) Super glue
9) Masking tape
10) Wood stain (i used cherry)
11) Polyurethane
12) Double-sided heavy duty adhesive sheet

Helpful Links:
flink Suggests:
"When choosing wood veneer, please be aware that there are different types of veneer as well as different wood species. Veneer can be found unbacked, paper-backed, and adhesive backed.

Make certain you have the right type. Needless to say, adhesive backed is what you should use here unless you have experience with contact cements :-)

Some sources of decent veneer:

The borgs have veneer, but seldom have a wide selection. From Rockler or woodcraft you can get some really exotic stuff. Some real lumberyards have veneer, too. Typically those that carry a good selectino of hardwoods.

You could also try to search for a veneer supplier in the US or Canada."

And heres a good link for hardware suggested by XaqFixx: Whitechapel, ltd.

Step 2: Tracing the Design

Picture of Tracing the Design

Place a piece of paper or tracing paper over the back the laptop and trace out where you want the wood to go.(This has to be exact or else you'll have problems later fitting it like i did)

Then cut out design.

Repeat for front.

Step 3: Cut Out Design

Picture of Cut Out Design

First apply the Double-sided heavy duty adhesive sheet to the other side of the veneer.(Leave the paper backing on of course)

Then sand the wood veneer to give it an extra smooth appearance.

Then tape design to Wood Veneer.(make sure to plan on which way you want the grain to go and what part of the wood looks the best)

Then cut using a sharp Xacto knife. (the wood is really thin so you should have no problem cutting through it like butter)

Be sure to cut a diagonal line on the corners so they fold properly.

Step 4: Soak Veneer for Bending

Picture of Soak Veneer for Bending

I soaked the Veneer in hot water so that i could bend it around the edges without it splintering.

I then dried off the excess water to avoid any possibility of water damage. It may be a good idea to remove the battery as well... just to be on the safe side.

I then used masking tape to hold the wood in place on the laptop so it would dry and retain the bent shape.

Step 5: Stain! Stain! Stain!

Picture of Stain! Stain! Stain!

Now its time to stain, I used 2-3 coats of cherry wood stain, follow the directions on the can, be sure to allow to fully dry between coats.

Of course this step is optional, natural wood is beautiful too! Especially if you plan on sanding instead of polyurethaning.

Step 6: Paint Laptop

Picture of Paint Laptop

Time to paint the laptop.

I used a Gold paint pen, experiment to see what works best for you.

Be sure to mask off the important bits that you dont want gold paint on(this is impotant for giving a very professional finished product)

I chose not to paint the inside of my laptop so i left the black edges black.

Step 7: Adhere Wood Veneer

Picture of Adhere Wood Veneer

Remove adhesive backing and carefully lay the wood onto the laptop being careful not to press down until it is properly lined up.

When it lined up press firmly taking extra care at the corners and cutting away excess material.

Step 8: Polyurethane or Sanding Finish

Picture of Polyurethane or Sanding Finish

Mask off everything you don't want polyurethane on, you don't want this stuff seeping in and ruining your computer.

Apply a thin even coat of polyurethane across one side, make sure not to glob it on, be patient and do multiple thin coats.

Pay extra close attention around vents, holes, and moving parts. (Did I mention I'm not liable for any damage you do to your laptop? Do at your own risk, but if your careful it shouldn't be a problem)

Apply about 3 coats allowing it to completely dry in between. (While its drying place laptop where no dust or cat hair can collect on it)

Then repeat for other side.

Another option instead of Polyurethane would be to finish the wood with sandpaper, progressively using finer and finer sand paper on up to at least 1500. You'll end up with a super shiny smooth finish, and then finish with boiled linseed oil to protect it.(This was sugested by a good friend of mine who specializes in wood crafts and detests polyurethane finishes, i may actually redo mine with this technique instead, much nicer end product.)

Step 9: Finishing Touches/ Troubleshooting

Picture of Finishing Touches/ Troubleshooting

After the the polyurethane is completely dry you can add the finishing touches, I added a copper pendent to the center and some corner accents that i picked up from hobby lobby.

I painted them with gold paint and super glued them into place.

To finish the edges on top where the wood meets the plastic i cut and bent a brass rod and glued it into place.

On the back of the laptop I used some rub-on Old English lettering for my name and glued some rivets into place over the screw holes.(Note: Keep in mind that this may cause problems with upgrading later on)

Then apply one last coat of polyurethane to each side to lock in everything.

And your done!

You can fix small mistakes with the placement of the wood with wood filler, be sure to stain the wood filler so it matches.

If you get super glue where you don't want it, invest in some de-bonder to clean it up.

Leave me comments on what you think,

Good luck!


IanH34 (author)2015-11-08

These guys have an impressive rage of wood veneers and a lot with PSA backing.

Pugofstardock (author)2010-02-09

This is great!
Did this with my Toshiba a few days ago but with a  plastic wood-lookalike-foil.
it looks like wood but is easier to apply and cheaper. 
had it at work yesterday and my (female) coworkers were impressed. ;-) 

IanH34 (author)Pugofstardock2015-11-08

they would be more impressed with real wood. :)

in reply of my own comment
heres a pic of the laptop

Spannerz (author)2013-12-05

Nice choice of computer; I have a D630 (same if not similar) to yours that has seen better days (Colouration and the paint was fading/chipping), so I took the screen and body apart, and am in the process of painting mine (rough dark get + metallic flecks), the trim at the top of the screen however, I'm giving a gloss finish. Was considering giving my laptop a warhammer-feel by painting 'wear and tear' and adding a warning-yellow colour to the strip at the top, but I thought against it :P

mimaki cg60 (author)2012-08-07

To be highly accurate on the tracing, you could use a scanner. Simply putting the laptop on the scanner will render you a 100% sized picture. If your laptop do not fit the entire area of the scanner, you may do it in 2 pictures and then align them on any software that deals with pictures. Next you may either trace the details on some software so you have only the lines or print and cut with the scanned image itself. This is good for the bottom part at least, if the sides are not curved, it should work as well.

Winged Fist (author)2012-02-23

This is a really incredible laptop mod! Also a fantastic first instructable!

I'm curious; Now that it's been a few years since you made it, how has the wood veneer held up? I'm thinking about a similar laptop mod, and debating between veneer and contact paper. I'm sure veneer would look nicer, but I'm concerned that it might crack, split or chip with everyday use.

Any chance of seeing a photo of this after a few years wear-and-tear?

MattosaurusRex (author)2011-09-27

I just found an old iBook from 2001, think it needs a wood veneer! Thanks for the Ible!

s1dh (author)2010-08-19

THIS is an awesome tunning operation , CONGRATULATIONS !! I would like to have a feedback about Wireless : did you notice wireless reception decrease performance ? (As the antenna of your wireless NIC is behind the LCD screen , the back of your screen act as a receiver. If you add wood on this side the wireless signal could be lower ...)

tuckerton296 (author)2010-07-27

thanks, youve given me the idea for the faceplate on my tower

jaxboy (author)2010-07-25

Extremely professional-looking job! It looks like a high-end custom laptop done for a celebrity or a CEO. Pat yourself on the back!

martzsam (author)2010-07-24

Something you should try is Krylon plastic adhesive spray paint. It actually bonds with the plastic so it won't come off. Anyway, nice work! I really like the cherry finish. This is quality work. Keep it up! Sam

msw3113 (author)2009-10-08

Is that an 8500?  Nice result, well done.  Work to be proud of.
What's next?  Veneered iPhone?

DracoGT (author)msw31132009-10-08

It's a old Dell Latitude d620.
Love to do the iphone if i could afford the 100 bucks a month to own one.

sqeeek (author)DracoGT2010-07-19

LOL exactly why I don't have one :D Great instructable btw, thinking about using this on one of my old laptops... I have an Inspiron 1100, and a Tecra S2...

sqeeek (author)2010-07-19

Nice one, I might have to try that. I'm looking for a way to make this old Inspiron 1100 I just got look a bit better...

sqeeek (author)2010-07-19

Actually, I don't think water would hurt much of it. The screen, maybe, but usually electronics can handle plain water pretty well. My dad and I have a family network business, and we've soaked a couple of routers in saltwater before to short out and therefore reset the FLASH memory, and they have always worked just fine afterwards :D... don't recommend that, though, unless you have to.

linc5885 (author)2010-03-08

This is an awesome masterpiece, I will be 100% doing this!!!, I have been staring at my old dell laptop trying to figure out how to make it look like an old Book you just showed me how sweet , Thank you for shareing.

Irritable_Badger (author)2010-02-27

If you have the ability to disassemble the case on the laptop any errors in the veneering process can easily be undone by using Hide Glue instead of a PVA type glue or epoxy.

Hide Glue (the synthetic stuff from Tite-Bond works as well as traditional hide glue) is used by instrument makers because a little bit of steam releases the glue so that any errors can be corrected.

If you apply the veneer and it doesn't come out correctly simple take an iron and on the low setting (no steam) and "iron" the veneer until the glue softens and the veneer will slide right off. If you are careful you can even reuse the veneer.

Lawlz Its Kyle (author)2010-01-29

I tried this but I failed miserably. :(

hinoai (author)2009-11-04

Very cool! A less time-consuming (but less impressive) possibility would be to try it with wood-grain contact paper, maybe? When my laptop comes back from the shop, I'm going to give it a go!

trebuchet03 (author)2009-10-15

Nice :) I woodied my laptop apparently over two years ago (the laptop isnow parts :( ) :p

Cross Link -

I dig your embellishments :) I wanted to do this to my EEE, but there'ssome nontrivial compound curves in parts of the case that just destroythe look when veneering. There are grander ideas peculating though :D

hascher (author)2009-10-14

What about using the stain that already has poly mixedin?  That might solve the issue of applying poly by itself -and you only have 1 step instead of two.  Love the look!!! Thanks for the great idea!

Benson1 (author)2009-10-14

I'm kind of spamming your comments but I just thought of another question....

Do you notice your laptop heating up more than usual now?

cthiele (author)2009-10-08

Great job for the first instructable!  The firstl look gives the impression that it's much harder to do.  What was the total price of all the pieces?

Benson1 (author)cthiele2009-10-14

It really all depends on the quality of veneer you get.  I know ofsome veneers that can cost up to and over 5000$......But that's veryhigh quality, and in bulk.  You can get a pretty good idea on costby looking up a local veneer place.

And the prices of stain and such vary depending on what you get.....I'mbasically answering your question by not answering your question, sorry.

Benson1 (author)2009-10-14

Hey, I was wondering why you would add the polyurethane after sealingthe veneer to your computer.  Wouldn't it be safer to do itbefore?  Or would the polyurethane warp the wood.....Not that itmatters....It sounds like sanding would be nicer anyways, just curious.

Re-design (author)2009-10-11

Nice job.  I like the fact that you didn't "recase" it.

CurvedYellowFruit (author)2009-10-10

Very nice! Now I'm thinking of modding my Netbook. Good ible!

kellychap (author)2009-10-08

This is a great idea and a great instructable.  Thanks - I'll have to see if I can conjure up the courage to do this one!

Kryptonite (author)kellychap2009-10-09

Yeah I see what you mean, looks amazing but what happens if something goes wrong?

DracoGT (author)Kryptonite2009-10-09

The safer approach would be to skip the polyurethane and just sand it, as mentioned in step 8

Kryptonite (author)DracoGT2009-10-10

I'd love to do this but trying to let my mum or dad mod one of their laptops is a near-to-zero chance.

JCO72 (author)2009-10-07

Sweet mod.  I'm just doin black leather and chrome on mine...

Kryptonite (author)JCO722009-10-09

Sounds great, post pics though!

ionfreek458 (author)2009-10-08

 could you do this to a mac??

conrad2468 (author)ionfreek4582009-10-08

 if i get a new computer im doin it with my mac.

TechNerd1012 (author)2009-10-04

it seems like you could probably design this into a sleeve-like thing too, so that you can remove it if you ever needed to great instructable btw!

Wolfin (author)TechNerd10122009-10-08

The only problem then would be a question of how would you keep them (top/bottom veneers) connected over the hinge.. Maybe could stitch on some fabric but that'd probably insulate the fan exhaust.

TechNerd1012 (author)Wolfin2009-10-08

Thats true
Maybe stitch it onto some stretcy fabric, and put some kind of thin mesh (like window screens) over the fan areas

conrad2468 (author)TechNerd10122009-10-08

 thad prevent it from the emp blast.....but id suggest an old crate or a very large cigar box...

shortone (author)2009-10-08

 this is great! Does anyone know if/where you can get purpleheart wood veneer? Purpleheart is a tropical wood that is dark purple in color, and could look really cool on one of these...or padauk, which is almost orange!

yyeessno (author)2009-10-08

Remember you can/should) rub down the polyurethane with very fine steel wool between each coat. It gives a finer finish and makes it smoother to the touch.

static (author)2009-10-08

 Nicely done, all the way around, the final result looks great. But the steampunk label added to everything that looks old is getting kind of dated itself. Here the result is similar in look to Campaign furniture, that predates the steam era and deserving of attention in it's own right.

flink (author)2009-10-08

When choosing wood veneer, please be aware that there are different types of veneer as well as different wood species. Veneer can be found unbacked, paper-backed, and adhesive backed. <br /><br />Make certain you have the right type. Needless to say, adhesive backed is what you should use here unless you have experience with contact cements :-)<br /><br />I like the look of this mod. I have an old dell that I think would look much better for a facelift.<br /><br />Great instructable.<br /><br />Some sources of decent veneer:<br /><br /><a href=""></a><br /><br /><a href=""></a><br /><br />The borgs have veneer, but seldom have a wide selection. From Rockler or woodcraft you can get some really exotic stuff. Some real lumberyards have veneer, too. Typically those that carry a good selectino of hardwoods.<br /><br />You could also try <a href=""></a> to search for a veneer supplier in the US or Canada.<br />

DracoGT (author)flink2009-10-08

Thanks for the info and links, if you don't mind i added it to step 2 of this ible(with credit given: )

XaqFixx (author)2009-10-08

I did something similar with my netbook, but not as nice as yours, and mine is still incomplete.  You can save yourself a few steps by getting pre-finished, adhesive backed veneer.
A good source for decorative bits is Whitechapel, ltd. they make reproduction hardware for furniture, and carry nice corner pices and brass dodadds.

DracoGT (author)XaqFixx2009-10-08

Thanks for the source, if you dont mind i added it to this ible. And in the future i think i will be using a pre-finished, adhesive backed veneer.

Phoghat (author)2009-10-08

Very nice work. I've got an old Compaq Digital Computational Engine I'd like to steampunk.

axydlbaaxr (author)2009-10-08

Love it!  I've been thinking about something like this for my netbook for a while now.  Great to have some tips!

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More by DracoGT:The Aperture Science Automated Pumpkin TurretBinaural Earbud Microphone AKA holophonic, 3d stereo, bin-aural microphones. For less than $10Wood Veneer Laptop Mod
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