4 Reasons to Try Veneering

When I hear the word “veneering,” I reflexively think of the many hours I spent feeding 4×8 sheets of plywood into the Joos hot press machine where I used to work. Sometimes we had the opportunity to lay up bookmatched flitches of interesting exotic woods, but most of the time it was simply a matter of spreading glue onto the plywood and dropping a large, pre-cut sheet of cherry or mahogany on top. A guy nicknamed “Whiskey Pete” would then nod at me, and together we would slide the panel into the machine, press “go” and start gluing up the next sheet. It was a lot like work in the summer months, and definitely not my favorite assignment at any time of year.

Chances are you come to veneering without memories of industrial chores to dissuade you. Even so, you may be reluctant to try it. Read the following list for some reasons to get over the hump and utilize veneering in your next woodworking project!

4 Reasons to Try Veneering

1. Veneering is a centuries-old woodworking practice that only recently gained reputation for being “superficial” or false. When you use veneer, you’re reviving some beautiful styles from the past.

2. I mentioned exotic woods in the introduction above. Often, the only way to get your hands on the exotics for a reasonable price is by buying veneer. Shake yourself out of the usual routine by utilizing this type of material.

3. The tools and supplies are also inexpensive. While there are many costly or time-consuming tools you can use for veneering, such as vacuum presses, shop-made mechanical presses or – for that matter – a Joos machine, another option is the humble veneer hammer. It costs something like $45. Get yourself a supply of hot hide glue and you are good to go.

4. You can make an awesome project by master craftsman Rob Millard. It’s new in our store. Check it out and buy a copy of the DVD today!

Learn how to veneer with this great project from Rob Millard.

Learn how to veneer with this great project from Rob Millard.

We promise you won’t need to work with anyone named “Whiskey Pete” if you try veneering. Learn how to veneer, give it a shot and please tell us your experiences in the comments section below!

Dan Farnbach

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Woodworking Daily Blog
Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

6 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Try Veneering

  1. Badflys

    I started veneering about 10 years ago. It’s opened up a world of opportunities. Veneering flat panels led to book matching and other patterns, that led to curved work, now I cut my own veneers and include some veneer work in almost every project. after a couple projects I bought a starter system from Vacuum Pressing Systems for about $300, it included a 4X4 vinyl bag and a continuous duty pump with all the necessary fittings. That kit made entry into vacuum pressing painless and relatively inexpensive. By the way, that starter system is still in use, the bag has been patched once and the pump has never let me down. Give it a try,

  2. William Duffield

    To clarify, liquid hide glue comes in a bottle, while hot hide glue comes as a solid, often in the form of “pearls” and is mixed with water and put in a glue pot to heat. A good glue pot is over $100, but making your own pot and hammer are reasonably easy.

    Liquid hide glue is not suitable for hammer veneering. It requires a press or vacuum bag.

    1. zdillingerzdillinger

      I disagree. Liquid hide glue can be used for hammer veneering. I’ve done it many times. Sure, hot hide is better, but liquid works if you just keep it warm while in the bottle.

      1. William Duffield

        I would not have expected LHG to work, at least not in a reasonable length of time, due to the long open time under normal circumstances. I’ll have to try it. Does it work better when the shop ambient is much colder than the glue? I keep my LHG in the refrig, and warm it up to working temperature in my glue pot, so it will be warm when I use it, and until next spring much warmer than the shop and the work.

        1. zdillingerzdillinger

          You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I was given the tip by a fellow member of MWTCA. Didn’t believe it at first either. I work in a virtually unheated shop so in the winter it is always quite cool. That probably helps, but I keep the glue bottle warm so that the glue will flow. I do this when I don’t feel like taking the time to process hot hide glue. The veneer on my spice chest drawers was done by hammering with LHG.

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