A new dining room set for my wife! #35: Veneering starts, but first a little primer.

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Blog entry by GaryK posted 06-06-2011 01:31 AM 2783 reads 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 34: Getting ready to veneer! Part 35 of A new dining room set for my wife! series Part 36: Taping up the veneer. »

It seems that I have sparked some interest in some of you with the veneering aspect of this job.

I am not an expert at it but I do have a few tips that might be interesting to those who have never done it before.

First is sharpening an Exacto (or whatever brand you are using) blade. I didn’t learn this for a long time. I just bought a bunch of blades and threw them away as they got dull. But they are so easy to sharpen I have been kicking myself in the head for not finding out sooner.

Only the tip gets dull. So you just remove material from the tip to bring the sharp edge to the tip. It’s not really even sharpening. See below what I am talking about. I use a diamond plate that I happen to have but anything will work.

I bet that I can get through this whole job with a single blade!

Next is some things that will help you out. First is a self healing cutting mat. With all the lines and dimensions already marked it is fantastic. This one is about 36” square and I just bought it for this job. I have a smaller one that I have been using, but I needed this for the table sized job. It was less than $30 at Walmart. Fabric and sewing stores also have them.

Then a good straight steel scale. This one is a centering scale. It’s marked with Zero in the middle and goes out from there. This job is basically parquetry and not marquetry since it’s all straight lines. You can see that I taped the scale to the mat with the right edge on a line. (I do this since I’m right handed). When cutting strips I just line up the veneer with the appropriate line and cut away.

There is one thing that I can’t emphasize enough, and that’s that you make you first few cuts VERY light. This will cut a groove for the blade to follow when you start applying more pressure. If you don’t you’ll be sorry, that’s all I have to say about that.

Another thing it some masking tape. I like the blue painters tape since it comes off so easily and leaves no glue behind.
You will also need some veneer tape. They make two types. This kind called “Three Hole Tape” and solid tape with no holes.

The holes make it easier to see your joint, but it’s a lot harder to get off when your done. The opposite with the solid.

Here is the start of my top:

I started in the center and will work my way out.

There are other things that you can get to help you, but I feel that these are the bare minimum to get you going.

Next time I will finish this end of the table.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

15 comments so far

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4629 days

#1 posted 06-06-2011 01:38 AM

thanks for the basic veneer lesson

that score lightly seems so right

i’ve ‘torn’ veneer from over pressure before

this is looking great mike


-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5688 days

#2 posted 06-06-2011 02:10 AM

Gary: Lee Jesberger got me hooked on Scapels for cutting veneer. I bought them online. I first bought a plastic handle. It didn’t last very long before the handle was broken. So I then bought a metal handle. They are quite cheap.

I also bought a box of replacement blades. They are different shapes.

I think mine are atopse scaples so they are usually throw away and are cheaper than the ones for the operating rooms.

I think I’ve only broken one blade while doing veneering. It’s very inexpensive to get a nice cutting tool.

You are right you only use the tip so when selecting blades, you don’t need to select big curving ones.

I use red polishing compound on a piece of cherry that is nice and flat to sharpen my scaples.

I also picked up a few weeks ago a DMT Extra, Extra Fine Diamond plate. I think it is 3000 grit. A nice polished surface.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4669 days

#3 posted 06-06-2011 02:15 AM

Wait, who’s Mike? :)

Great work, Gary! I have never tried veneering, so I have to live vicariously through the LJ crowd. This is going to be really pretty.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5340 days

#4 posted 06-06-2011 03:28 AM

Very good Gary!

Thank you… I needed that.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View sras's profile


6433 posts in 4417 days

#5 posted 06-06-2011 03:54 AM

I’m already looking forward to the next post! This is helpful – thanks.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 3839 days

#6 posted 06-06-2011 04:17 AM

You’re absolutely right. Several small cuts can lead to a cleaner break than a deep cut. The other thing you forgot is that when you have an angled spot, BE PRECISE!!!!! veneer is remarkably sensitive to precision, and it’s not like other woodworking where you might be able to sand down a little bit or “fix” a spot. especially with repeated patterns.

Have you also invested in 3M yet? Cause painter’s tape is definitely the veneer-er’s best friend. :)

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4222 days

#7 posted 06-06-2011 07:30 AM

This is exciting Gary!
It’s going to look great.


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View CanadianWoodChuck's profile


402 posts in 5201 days

#8 posted 06-06-2011 12:55 PM

Thanks Gary – great lesson

-- Wood Chuck (Bruce)

View Ken90712's profile


18082 posts in 4476 days

#9 posted 06-06-2011 02:36 PM

Very interesting info. Thx

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View dbray45's profile


3414 posts in 4064 days

#10 posted 06-06-2011 02:57 PM

The blade cuts a “V”, have you had any issues in glue up with the “V” or did this go away for you. For some of the work I have done with veneers that I made (thicker than store bought veneer), this was a problem for me. I ended up working on the bottom sid of the veneer so the bottom of the “V” glued to the top.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5276 days

#11 posted 06-06-2011 05:52 PM

dbray45 – Yes, I do keep track of the “V” issue. I usually try to angle the blade to get a straight cut. I am usually not too concerned about it since the gap if there is one is on the up side. Sanding usually reduces it the more you sand.

I find that if I cut from the backside, the veneers are only touching at the top surface and that any sanding will create a gap and it get worse the more you sand.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View dbray45's profile


3414 posts in 4064 days

#12 posted 06-06-2011 06:10 PM

So, what you are telling me is that it may be better to use something like a marking knife that is flat on the straight edge side so the cut is really vertical on the cut edge and the offcut side has the angle cut?

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 3934 days

#13 posted 06-06-2011 09:18 PM

man thats going to be sharp. Thanks for the series, learning allot.

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5276 days

#14 posted 06-06-2011 09:28 PM

dbray45 – What I’m saying is that I try to keep the blade at an angle so that it cuts a vertical edge on the material. Basically all the “V” is on the piece I cut off which I am not using anyway.

The net effect is the same as you described using your marking knife.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View dbray45's profile


3414 posts in 4064 days

#15 posted 06-07-2011 01:21 PM

Anything we can do to fill the gaps works for me. In the jewelry box I made recently I ran into this problem and I am always looking for better solutions.

Thanks Gary.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

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