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When I started woodworking the idea of veneering seemed like magic to me. From selecting the best materials, to the design (orienting the grain of the pieces to present the desired and impressive final result,) to cutting the pieces (to not leave ridiculous gaps!) and ultimately gluing the whole thing in place.

That last task, glueing up the veneer, seemed the most daunting. The process must have constant, even pressure across the whole surface of the veneered area – which usually means that every clamp in the shop is in play with some bonus cauls tossed in the middle to make sure the pressure is even.

I was aware of vacuum veneering but it seemed like a larger industrial application. Then one day we had the chance to try it out in the Popular Woodworking shop on a “real person” scale. I was hooked! Simple, reasonably fool-proof, and honestly fun to watch. Using fairly affordable tools, we were able to veneer a large (4′ x 4′) veneered surface with constant, even pressure across the entire piece, and without a clamp in sight!

If this is a new concept to you, or if you’d just like to learn a bit more about vacuum veneering, take a look at the video below as author and expert veneer worker Jonathan Benson shares his process.

 – David Thiel

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