How to cut wood veneer
There are two main ways you can cut wood veneer by either using a:
Once the veneer has been sized correctly, you can use a utility knife to score the back of the material. Before starting, check that the blade is sharp enough, as a blunt blade can damage and mark the veneer. Run the blade along the mark a few times and then it should come through with a nice clean cut.
To avoid splitting or splintering, a small rotary saw can quickly make cuts in the veneer. Before starting you should ensure that you have a solid work surface and that you only begin cutting when the veneer is tightly in place.
How to glue wood veneer
Extra care should be taken when glueing the wood veneer as this is a crucial part of the process. If you are using a water-based adhesive, a foam rubber glue roller is the best to apply it to the substrate, plus they are cost-efficient and can also be reused. Be careful not to add too much glue and take your time to spread it evenly across the surface.
You can test the thickness by marking the substrate with a pencil before applying the glue. If you can still see the mark after the glue has been applied, you are more likely to have used the right amount. Should the veneer be overexposed to glue, it could cause rippling.
When it comes to choosing the right glue for the job, wood glues are usually the best way to go. Alternatively, you can use ‘cold press’ veneer glue, as it often dries fast, cures hard and doesn’t require you to carry out any mixing.
Wood veneer to curved surfaces
Not all substrates have straight lines and many feature curved surfaces that may require a slightly different approach when it comes to applying the veneer.
UF (urea formaldehyde), PVAs or contact adhesives are the mostly commonly used adhesives for curved surfaces. You’ll need to form a male/female jig to use a UF or PVA adhesive to minimise movement during the process.
A contact adhesive is good for large pieces of furniture and is coated onto both materials, although they are better suited for back veneers rather than unbacked veneers because they offer no movement resistance.
Wood veneer edging
Wood veneer edging is used to finish off shelving, bookcases and cabinets to create a smooth, finished look that fits in with the rest of the design. Here are the steps you need to follow to apply wood veneer edging:
Step 1: Add strips to the longest sides
It’s a good idea to start with the longest edges first if you are working on an item like a cabinet. Measure the strip and ensure it is a few centimetres longer than required. Making the strip longer at this stage ensures you have enough length and do not have to make a fresh strip because the first one was too short. Square the edge and ensure the strip is flush with the side so you can trim off the excess length.
Step 2: Iron the strip
Using a regular household iron set to just below the highest temperature and run it over the strip while keeping it in place with your thumb and forefinger. The technique you use to iron is important – make sure the iron is applied to a 10-15cm section of the strip at first and keep the heat element moving. It should take around 30 seconds for the strip to adhere to the plywood. After finishing each section, use a wooden block or roller to press the strip onto the edge.
Step 3: Remove any excess
When you reach the end of the edge, turn over the body of the item so you see the strip facing downwards toward the floor. Now you can cut off any excess strip pieces that may be overhanging.
Step 4: Seal and finish
Sand down the edges of the strip using a 150-grit sandpaper until it is completely flush with the rest of the item and no joins are visible.
Wood veneer to MDF speakers
If you want to transform the look of your MDF speakers you should follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Prep work
Any screw holes that are present on the speaker will need to be filled in. This can be done using wood filler and a putty knife. Make sure this is done on all sides of the speaker and scrape as much of the filler off the surface as possible.
Use an orbital sander to smooth out the sides of the speaker, using a combination of 80, 120 and 200-grit sandpapers.
Step 3: Cutting the veneer
Draw a diagram of how the veneer will be cut out of the sheet. Make sure the side, top and opposing side are all in one long strip, while mapping out the bottom, front and back sections.
Lay down the speaker on top of the veneer and trace each side of the speaker cabinets using a utility knife. Make them a little over-sized so you have some room to play with when it comes to lining up the veneer with the speaker. Label each piece so you know where each one will go and its orientation to maintain a consistent grain pattern
Step 3: Gluing the veneer
Use contact cement as the adhesive and a 4-inch foam roller to apply it to the relevant section of the cabinet. Be sure to apply the adhesive to the MDF and the veneer panel. Start with the bottom section first, followed by the back, then the sides, front and lastly the top. Doing it in this order will help to hide the edges of the veneer from the front and side sections.
Add one coat of glue and then leave it to fully dry on both surfaces, then you can add a second coat and before applying the section of veneer you are working on.
Once the second coat is dried, lay either wooden shims or free paint sticks onto the cabinet surface. Doing this allows you to precisely line up the veneer with the edges of the speaker without it touching the MDF. This is important because you are using contact cement, so once the two surfaces make contact they cannot be separated. When you are sure the veneer is correctly aligned, you can remove the shims and push the veneer down onto the speaker.
Step 4: Adhering the veneer
Use a small wooden roller to ensure the veneer is fully applied to the speaker. Go over every section of the veneer, pushing down as hard as you can. Take the utility knife and trim off any overhanging pieces (for the side sections) and use 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the edges once you are done.
You can then stain and finish the veneer to create the final look you want, and the adhesive should take a few days to fully cure.