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Hello all.

I've been thinking of using veneer. I've dealt with veneer before and don't know what tools and hardware I'll need to work with the stuff. Could you please tell me what I'll need to use veneer? Part of my desire to use veneer is to save money so I'm hoping it doesn't cost a fortune to get the necessary materials and tools. Thanks.
 

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Unbacked veneer requires some way to clamp it, generally it's best to use contact cement on those types that have backing. Clamping methods range from using standard clamps and cauls to having a vacuum bag. If you have an air compressor you can build a venturi type vac system (check Veneer Supplies) but you will still have some money tied up in it. One thing that WILL NOT work is to put the veneer between platens (you also need those) and pile weight on it (trust me on this). So, once you figure out your clamping strategy the rest is not that hard. Plain veneer can be glued with most of the normal wood glues, though I prefer to use the powdered plastic resin glue (sandable, so clean up is easier). You can also do hammer veneering, this involves use hot hide glue and a "veneer hammer" to squeeze it out. You can make the hammer, but you will need a way to melt the glue. I built my own vacuum pump system from Veneer Supplies and think I have about $300-$400 in the pump/parts and another $100+ in the bag (wide variety of choices here).
 

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Using veneers is not difficult but you have different methods to follow as mentioned in the previous post. I suggest trying a small veneering project. Paper backed veneers are very easy to work with; no flattening or conditioning required. Contact cement works very well and all you really need is a roller. Another method I have seen but have not used is to use regular wood glue on the substrate and veneer. Let them dry and then place the veneer on the substrate and use an iron to heat up the glue. Spend a few minutes searching on Youtube and you can find many videos that explain all the various methods.
 

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Fyi, you won't save money using veneer. It's not cheap, and you have to factor in the cost of the substrate. Plus, you need to veneer both sides of the substrate regardless of whether it will be seen or not.

I buy veneer from certainlywood.com.

For attaching it, you can do cold press glue and a lot of clamps/veneer press. You can also do a vacuum press. And finally there's the traditional hot hide glue.

If you want to save money, use a different wood or buy a planer and jointer and then buy lumber rough cut from a sawmill.
 

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Plywood is cheaper than veneer. You don't need special tools or a press and it saves a lot more time.

If you want to build larger projects then the most expensive item will be a press of some sort. Vacuum bags are the easiest. An inexpensive alternative is to learn hammer veneering. That just requires a glue pot and a veneer hammer.

Cutting veneer can be done with a sharp knife, veneer saw or some type of homemade device that incorporates a sharp blade inside a wood body.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok, it sounds like I'm not going to save dough with veneer. I did a little poking around on the web looking at veneer prices and was kind of shocked at how expensive it was. I assume this is because only the fanciest, most interesting logs (which are rare) get cut into veneer?

I hadn't even thought of the cost of the substrate. I figured I could get super cheap plywood but I'm not so sure about that now.

But a roller and contact cement are all that is needed to get started? At least with paper backed veneer?
 

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Yep, typically the paper backed is only available in the more common species. Compare the cost of veneer to the highly figured lumber that it replaces and you can save a ton. But for the common stuff it's probably not the savings (if any) that would drive you to use it. The substrate can be super cheap plywood, and you would probably see the coarse grain structure through the veneer. MDF is cheap and dead flat, though it has some other downsides.
 

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To me, veneer is practical where wood movement will be a big issue, where you want to accent with a burl or exotic and you need small amounts or over torsion design for larger projects.

You'll need a veneer saw, vacuum press among other items. So at the end, it's probably just a better bet to buy the wood.

I find by the time you cut you ply (you have to get very good quality ply), band the edges with hardwood, veneer, press and final dimension you are just about the time and price of hardwood.

It gives you flexibility, but it's not my favorite thing to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So from what I'm hearing it sounds like the time to use veneer is when you need highly figured wood or a very expensive exotic species that you can't typically find in solid wood form? At least from a cost perspective.

Perhaps I will pass on veneer then. At least for now.
 
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