Veneer Press

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Project by Doe posted 09-14-2013 10:33 AM 9855 views 11 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Veneer Press
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I’d like to start making boxes and I have some nice veneer I’d like to use. I bought the Lee Valley Press Screw and sort of followed their picture. Since measuring is a challenge for me, I was a tad worried that I might mess it up, but it worked much better than expected.

I cut a melamine shelf in half, using tape to keep the melamine from chipping off, then cut a piece of 2×4 a little bit longer than the melamine. The piece was used to set a stop so the second was exactly the same size. I used 2 pieces of 2×4 to mark where to cut the shorter base bits. The cross piece was 2 inches longer than the first base piece so I could do the dados, and the uprights were half of what I had left over from the 2×4.

I did my first dados using the table saw. Whoo hoo! I also used a chisel for the first time to clean up the dados. A word to those who are short: don’t wear a loose short sleeve t-shirt when doing dados on the table saw. I used to be 5 foot 2 and 3/4 but I’m getting shorter as I’m getting older and the darn chips were flying up my sleeve into my armpit. Not pleasant.

I was a little off on the clamping (again!) so the left side stuck out a little but I don’t mind. I also learned from my husband not to use two screws along the grain line because it might split even though I drilled pilot holes, so I staggered them. I planned for 5 screws in a dice shape (nice and symmetrical) for the uprights. I kept thinking about my father in law who used to do stuff and say “that’ll never move!” but then thought five was just a bit excessive. I changed it to 3 in a most annoying non-pattern to avoid the same grain lines.

It worked great! I also learned that you don’t need quite as much glue as I used. Actually, a lot less than I used.

Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome. I used to be a perfectionist but I don’t have the skill for that. . . yet. Thanks for looking.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

16 comments so far

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3131 days

#1 posted 09-14-2013 11:55 AM

Pretty cool, never heard of a veneer press until your project. Hope it works well for you!

-- Visit my blog at

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3211 days

#2 posted 09-14-2013 12:16 PM

Looks like that’ll do the job. Nice going!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5137 days

#3 posted 09-14-2013 12:20 PM

I think your father-in-law would be proud…. it looks very solid!

Having only done a few projects with veneer, I’m no expert by any means, but I’m wondering if you are going to get sufficient clamping pressure all around from a single screw. If it turns out to be an issue, I suppose you could rig up some cauls to distribute the pressure more efficiently.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 4004 days

#4 posted 09-14-2013 03:22 PM

Great looking veneer press. If as Charlie mentions, it does not work you can always remake it, but if you do
not take that first step, you never get anywhere. Thank you for sharing and hope to see those boxes soon.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View shipwright's profile


8621 posts in 3717 days

#5 posted 09-14-2013 03:24 PM

I have six screws in my first one and four in my second but Mat only used one (a hydraulic jack) in his press and it works well. I think this will likely be OK but you will want to use some thicker material to help spread he pressure out to the edges.
Those are very good screws. I am sure you will be pleased. Veneer use opens up a whole new world of woodworking and allows you to use very expensive species without breaking the bank.

Have fun!!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3586 days

#6 posted 09-14-2013 03:50 PM

That is a good starter but will lead to a bigger version as you get hooked on veneering ,listen to Paul .
You are in for a lot of fun and excitement .

-- Kiefer

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3749 days

#7 posted 09-14-2013 06:02 PM

Thanks for your kind comments.

The books I have don’t really mention how much pressure is applied, just that it needs to be even. I figured that I could add some plywood above and below for slightly bigger pieces, just in case. My test was 4×6 inches on 1/8 inch plywood, both sides, and I used a brayer (plastic roller) to make sure any air was squeezed out since I don’t want to get a veneer hammer just yet. Since most of the glue was squished out while pressing, I guessed that there was sufficient pressure. I tried to pick at it to see if any of it was loose or had air pockets and it doesn’t. I was thinking of putting it in water to see what happens but haven’t got around to it yet.

Gus: you hit the nail on the head; I didn’t think of it that way but that’s exactly right. This is my first step.

Paul: Wow! I’m a tad embarrassed about my crappy 2×4 construction compared to yours. Thanks for the links; when I get to bigger pieces (and I’m a better woodworker), I know where to look for more information.

Thanks again everyone, your encouragement means a lot to me!

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View zzzzdoc's profile


572 posts in 3922 days

#8 posted 09-14-2013 10:37 PM

Why use a veneer press instead of a vacuum press? Does it have any advantages, or just another way to skin a cat?

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View grego's profile


76 posts in 3500 days

#9 posted 09-14-2013 11:20 PM

Nice job! Does the part at the bottom of the screw attach to the top melamine with screws, or does it just press down on it when you tighten?

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3749 days

#10 posted 09-15-2013 12:34 AM

zzzdoc: the veneer press cost me about $20 plus 2×4, screws, and glue which we already had. A cheap vacuum press with a hand pump is $60. I figured I’d go the cheaper route until I know whether I want to do more and how big. Then I’ll decide how expensive a route I want to take. Shipwright has some very nice non vacuum options. Does anyone have any opinions about vacuum pressing?

Grego: no it just presses down. There’s a bit of flex on the bottom which makes it sit flat on the melamine. That made me feel a lot more comfortable about my construction accuracy (or lack thereof).

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View shipwright's profile


8621 posts in 3717 days

#11 posted 09-15-2013 04:11 AM

I have vacuum bag capability and used to be a big fan but the options with a screw press for marquetry are greater. ........ things like controlling the sequence of pressure from one side to the other or centre out to the edges and of course the ability to use heated cauls. I almost never use the bag any more.

Of course for plain veneering I favour hammer technique with HHG and don’t use any press at all.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View robscastle's profile


7527 posts in 3123 days

#12 posted 09-15-2013 10:09 AM

Looks like you have a neat piece of W/S Equipment with your veneer press.
I made one very similar, (I should do a Jig post on it)
The top and bottom are almost identical to yours only I used bolts with sleeves on them and nuts to get the pressure.

They certainly work well and you can break something if you do it up too tight!
I used it on my Accent table inlay work.

For my veneering work I also use a hydraulic jack (Porta Power) in my garage between the floor and joist for the next level, it really puts the pressure on, otherwise I just use pathers or fitness weights, all work well

-- Regards Rob

View Woodstock's profile


262 posts in 4207 days

#13 posted 09-15-2013 04:40 PM

Nicely done for a first timer.

I do like presses for marquetry, as Paul suggested. But another part of woodworking I really enjoy is lathe work. And I was directed to this sight for DIY vacuum chucks.

But their main reason for being was DIY vacuum bagging veneering. Lots of “how-to’s” info. I found the whole concept of bagging very interesting. Just another source to check out and learn from.


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3785 days

#14 posted 09-15-2013 06:50 PM

This is a very nice addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25485 posts in 4024 days

#15 posted 09-16-2013 02:10 AM

Nice press you made, Doreen. With one screw in the center, I’d be concerned about spreading the load across the full area. Notice on Paul’s presses the number of screws for spreading the pressure and the thick boards on edge to distribute the force between that many screws.
On your press, I think it would be good to have a thick “box” of wood on edge to spread the load of that center screw more evenly across the area. The bottom is built like that with 2/4’s on edge for load bearing. Look at Mat’s “box” he built for the top of his to spread the load of his jack. I think you find it most useful for an even press of veneer.

My 2 cents worth…................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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