Using Veneers in Your Woodwork Projects

Veneers play a very important role in woodworking projects. A veneer is a thin coat of superior wood that is glued to a base of inferior wood or other surface material.

There are three good reasons for using veneers.

First, by using veneers, you can give your woodwork the appearance of costly, high quality wood that would be too expensive if you were to purchase it in solid timber.

Secondly, another reason for using veneers is that some of the more costly woods are also quite heavy. They would add too much weight to your woodwork project if you used them exclusively.  However, in a veneered form, these woods are considerably lighter.

Lastly, the third reason for choosing a veneer is that veneered woods are less likely to warp and distort.  There are some patterns for wood that include processes that would cause the timber to fail. Only veneered woods could survive.

Obtaining the Wood for Veneers

The most basic method for acquiring the raw wood involves taking a trunk and mounting it on a lathe. This cut removes a continuous sheet of wood.  Imagine pulling paper from a roll of bathroom tissue and you have the general idea.

The cons to using this technique lie in the fact that the wood shows lines instead of the more desirable growth rings. This happens because the wood was cut perpendicular to the growth rings.  This approach to cutting is popular for making plywood, however.

To obtain the more aesthetically pleasing growth rings, you cut the wood across the growth rings. Unfortunately, this wastes more of the raw material.

Pressing the Veneer

When you want to attach or “press” a veneer of high quality wood to plywood or some other lesser surface, you must attach the layers together.

In short, you first apply a coating of glue between the layers, and then you apply pressure so the two surfaces bond. This must be accomplished firmly enough that the two layers act as if they were one cohesive cut of wood.

Woodworkers often find that using a vacuum press is the best way to accomplish this.

A vacuum press removes the air from the surrounding area and exerts a very high pressure to the two pieces of wood. This pressure is maintained until the glue sets. Additionally, a vacuum press helps the adjacent fibres of wood to “knit together” somewhat.

Since the entire piece of wood is under such high pressure, the glue is forced to ooze between the tiny air gaps in the wood rather than simply forming a layer of glue on the surface.

If the woodworker doesn’t have access to vacuum pressure, an alternative diy woodworking technique would be placed extremely heavy weights or other objects over the entire piece while the glue is drying.  You must be sure that the weights are placed uniformly.

Veneers lend themselves to so many woodwork projects that investing in a vacuum press is a good idea if the budget permits.

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