Ironing Veneer

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Blog entry by tenontim posted 05-21-2009 10:57 PM 8779 reads 11 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After many comments and questions about the veneer ironing method, I made some time to do a blog on how I use this technique.

The items needed are the same as used in the regular method of veneering; a straight edge, sharp knife (I use a scalpel), veneer tape, sandpaper, glue, distilled water, measuring cup, and a paint brush. Additionally, you’ll need an iron. Pick out your veneer and substrate, I usually use mdf.

First, I match up any pieces that I need to make a large enough piece of veneer to cover the panel. I fold them over and cut the edges at the same time, to get an even, matching edge. I will usually iron the pieces of veneer before applying any glue, to get all of the moisture out of the wood and shrinking them up as much as possible. That way, even though you will introduce more moisture during the course of this process, they should shrink back with the final ironing.

Next I spray the face side of the veneer with distilled water. You want to use distilled water, so none of the chemicals in your tap water react with the wood and cause it to change colors. This spray will help keep the veneer from curling up when you apply the glue.

For large, numerous panels, I usually mix a 16 oz bottle of glue with about 2 oz of distilled water.
Then turn the veneer over and apply a coat of glue. Also put a coat on the mdf. Let the glue dry, and apply another coat to all of the pieces. I usually put 3 coats on each piece. Once it’s dry, it will feel somewhat like leather, and have a clear appearance.

Lightly sand all of the glue surfaces with 120 grit sandpaper, to remove any garbage or lumps that may have found it’s way into the glue while it was drying.

Align your pieces of veneer and hold them together with the veneer tape.

Position the veneer on the mdf and start on the joint and work your way to the edges with the iron. You want to get the glue nice and hot, so that it melts together. I set my iron on the highest setting. Work the panel with the iron until all of the bumps are out and it all feels smooth. Pay particular attention to the edges, because this is where the veneer will break off the easiest if not glued down good.

Be sure to veneer both sides of what ever substrate you use, to prevent the panel from warping.

Once your done, sand, stain, and/or finish with your desired method.
Just for general info, the heat required to melt the glue, from least heat to most, is Titebond (original), Titebond II, and Titebond III. The water resistance is also in the same order.

I don’t know if this method is more time consuming than the traditional way of applying veneer, but if you don’t have a veneer press or a vacuum bag setup, this way will work fine. You can use it to apply veneer to curved surfaces as well.

By the way, I get my irons out of the trash, once my wife has destroyed them. WARNING! DO NOT use your wife’s good iron for this procedure, unless you want to look like you’ve had a shop accident.

Hope this gets some of you into using veneers. Have fun!

8 comments so far

View lew's profile


12807 posts in 4175 days

#1 posted 05-21-2009 11:09 PM

Thanks for the lesson!!

This is on my list of things to try and you just made it seem so much easier than I thought it would be!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View a1Jim's profile


117655 posts in 3996 days

#2 posted 05-21-2009 11:53 PM

looks like it works great

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18600 posts in 4095 days

#3 posted 05-22-2009 09:07 AM

thanks of the insight into the veneer world

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View stanley2's profile


352 posts in 4214 days

#4 posted 05-22-2009 03:41 PM

Thanks Tim – do you veneer both sides ofthe mdf?

-- Phil in British Columbia

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4164 days

#5 posted 05-22-2009 04:06 PM

Yes sir, do both sides. I’ve updated the instructions. Thank you, Stanley.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3977 days

#6 posted 06-09-2009 01:42 AM

Don’t know how I missed this information but thanks for the post. I will make a copy for future use.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Dap's profile


4 posts in 3806 days

#7 posted 06-09-2009 06:21 AM


An additional note. If you use white glue, you can reposition the veneer by heating it again with the iron. Yellow glues on the other hand go down once and stay there. No additional amount of heat will allow repositioning. I use this technique mostly for edge banding larger pieces I have veneered in the vacuum bag. I have tried doing large surfaces with the iron on method, but find it troublesome on pieces over 12”.

View kikasengr's profile


3 posts in 3700 days

#8 posted 06-10-2009 09:08 PM


Good stuff here. I’m just finishing a shop cabinet / stand on wheels for an older Performax 16-32 drum sander. I will try this on the drawer fronts. Mahalo for the good tip!

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