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Veneering question for your consideration.

2178 Views 21 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  kolwdwrkr
I understand the advisability of always skinning both faces of a substrate while veneering, but in your opinion or experience, would it be necessary to do this when veneering a very small floating panel used as a box bottom (less than 12×12˝) which will be captured in a plough/groove in the finished assembly? I will be using Baltic birch 1/8 or 1/4˝ sheet goods as the substrate. Seems to me with the grain running in both ways on the ply and all that glue - plus the small surface area and the capture, a fellow might be able to get by. Any thoughts?
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Not necessary with good plywood and you are using a top quality product.
Doug if you pull open a high end dresser you will find it in abundance and not sandwiched either.

Doug, When we get veneered panels in for a project, the backs are never veneered unless they are panels for a door and seen from both sides. I don't understand the reasoning behind doing both sides but I have seen it recommended.
CM -
I always thought one ran the risks of potato chipping (introducing both cup and twist) the panel, specifically with a wood core unless the faces were balanced in terms of ability interact with relative humidity. I just wanted to make sure as I plan to use a small marquetry piece on the inside face and didn't want to Bordnerize it after doing all the work with the marquetry.
I'm going top go the other way, Doug, even though I'm quite sure Bob and CM have more experience than me, so take it for what it's worth. :)

If you were talking about 1/2" or 3/4" ply, I'd say not to sweat it. But because you're dealing with pretty thin stuff, my instinct says if you veneer one side it's going to potato chip before the glue is cured. I could be wrong… as I said, this is just instinct.
I would not think it necessary to add another layer of veneer to the back. Baltic birch is strong and stable. If you were using MDF or a glued-up panel then I would say yes, but not here.

You can always do a test piece first.
It's necessary especially if you take the piece out of the clamps or press before ALL the moisture is gone. The glue puts moisture into the substrate. Keeping your material flat until the moisture gets back to normal may eleviate the need for veneering both sides. I agree with Myron about doing a test piece. I've veneered 1/4" substrates and have had them taco like Charlie mentioned. But I let the glue cure for an hour and then pulled it from the clamps. I think there was still to much moisture in the piece and I pulled it to early. Maybe allowing it to dry overnight may help. Personally, you veneer both sides at the same time, so other then material what are you losing if you play it safe and do it the recommended way?
Why not try a test piece to see what hapens?
If it's important, do both sides, if noone will ever see it, and the groove is tight, skip it. Every panel I have done just one side of, no matter what the substrate, warps.
I always veneer both sides. It is necessary in order to keep the material from warping. Tremendous force is put upon the material when veneering one side. It will always cup. I have been veneering for quite a few years. This has been the normal procedure for centuries.
I have faced glued a piece of 1/4 Red Oak ply to 1/2" ply to make the back for a cabinet. It was a cold glue lamination with Carpenters Glue with 1/2" sheet was placed on the garage floor (with a old plastic table cloth on the floor) and the 1/4" on top of it. I then placed allot of weight on top of the glue up and let it dry for a day or so. Cut it to size and it came out perfect!
I say yes both sides ,It's not a big deal on something that size but you need to equalize the moisture on both sides.
how come they only do one side of laminate kitchen counter tops yet those last years without warping?
I've goy some examples of plywood panels that only have veneer on one side. They are bowed like a banana.

I'm recomend doing both sides. I know that it's encased into the sides, but I still do it.
Mike, you can get away with that on kitchen countertops because #1 it's laminate and doesn't react to the cement #2 it's contact cement not wood glue so there is no moisture problems. #3 it's on particle board which is typically a stable substrate. I've seen plenty of warped countertops btw. They just get fastend to the cabinet, which straightens them out typically.
You can get away with paperback veneer and contact cement if one side is all you want to do. You won't even need to wait for the glue to dry. Just put the cement on the substrate and the veneer, wait the amount of time the directions require, then stick them together. Probably about 15 minutes and you're done.
I'm not quite sure I understand the desire to only do one side. You could use a cheaper veneer on the back side, so long as it's the same thickness as the front.
And there you have it - I'd do both sides.
Well, I believe the votes are in. Thanks guys.

Good to see you, Bill.
Consulting a woodworker for advice is like consulting a priest on matters of church policy. If you ask enough of them, eventually you'll get the answer you want to hear. :)
Hi Douglas,
I just finished a veneering class with Paul Schurch ( and he said that you always veneer both sides if you want to be safe. In the the class we did as many as three layers on both sides. I guess it as depends on if you want to gamble on what it will look like in five years. Paul said take you chances on things that will fall apart only after you are gone.
I would do both sides and in answer to Kolwdwkr yes you can use contact cement for the veneer but if the sealer you use is the same base (ie urea formaldehyde or thinners ) you run the risk of the veneer lifting of the substrate (wheter you do both sides or not)

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