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Wood Veneers and Veneering Methods - A Beginner's Primer

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Hello, I’m Bob Morgan with Bob Morgan Woodworking Supplies and the Veneer Factory Outlet.com. 

I’m going to give you a quick lesson about the basics of wood veneers and veneering techniques.

Veneer Is Real Wood

What is a wood veneer?  Well, a wood veneer is just a thin slice of wood from a wooden log. 

Most of our veneers are bonded to a paper or wood back.  The paper backed veneers are about  1/64” thick overall.  The wood backed veneers are about 3/64" thick overall.

Sometimes, people ask me “Are your veneers  really made of real wood?”  The answer is "yes!", every veneer that we sell here at The Veneer Factory Outlet.com is real wood.

How We Make Our Wooden Veneer Sheets

The "raw" sheets of veneer are sliced off the face of a log using a veneer slicing machine.  A typical sheet of "raw" veneer could be 4" to 15" wide and the same length as the log.

We clip the edges of the raw veneer sheets straight and parallel.  Then we join the individual sheets side by side to make larger sheets. 

When the raw sheets of veneer are sliced from the log, they are stacked one after the other in sequence.  This is called a flitch.  The wood grains from one sheet to the next sheet are almost identical.  If you take 2 sheets off of the stack and  you flip one sheet upside down and  bring it next to the first sheet, the grains will look like mirror images from one sheet to the next.

When we join the individual sheets into the larger size sheets, we flip every other sheet upside down so that when we join two sheets side by side, the grains and patterns match up like a mirror image.   This is called a book match.   Most table tops in your home or office will exhibit the book matched patterns.  When 2 or more sheets of veneer are joined together, the assembled piece is called a "face".

Paper Backs Or Wood Backs Add Strength And Stability

In order to give the veneer faces more strength and stability, we bond the veneer faces permanently to either a paper back or a wood veneer back.  The paper backed veneers are about 1/64” thick overall and the wood backed veneers are about 3/64” thick overall. 

The 1/64” thick paper backed veneers are more flexible than the 3/64” thick wood backed veneers.  You can use them on flat surfaces and even on some curved surfaces.  They are also a little less expensive than the wood backed veneers.

The 3/64” thick  wood backed veneers are  sturdier than the paper backed veneers due to the extra thickness and the wood back.   The wood backed veneers are more rugged than the paper backed veneers.  They are also more suited for use on rough or uneven surfaces, as the added thickness helps to prevent the telegraphing of unevenness through the veneer itself. 

For many applications, the paper backed veneers will be a good choice, but in some applications, the wood backed veneers will be the best choice.  Overall, I like the wood backed veneers the best because they are more forgiving and they are sturdier, more durable, and I think they are easier to use. 

2 Common Gluing Methods

Two common methods of gluing veneers in place are:

  • First, you can use carpenter’s glue, such as Titebond 2 and clamps.
  • Second: You can use 2 coats of contact cement.

I’ve prepared a video and I have also prepared another tutorial that goes into more details of how to glue down a wood veneer. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll give you a quick run through of these two common gluing methods.

When you use woodworker's glue, such as Titebond 2, you apply the woodworker’s glue to the veneer and also to the surface that you are veneering.  You position the veneer in place and you sandwich the work piece between 2 flat boards.  Apply pressure with clamps and let dry for 24 hours.

When using contact cement, use 2 coats of contact cement on each surface.  Let the contact cement dry between coats.  When the second coat is dry you lay the veneer in place, and you apply  pressure with a wallpaper seam roller.  It takes about 30 to 60 minutes for each coat of contact cement to dry. Work in a well ventillated area that isn't humid and at an ambient temperature above about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Peel and Stick Veneers

We offer our paper backed veneers and our wood backed veneers with an optional 3M peel and stick adhesive.  Using the  peel and stick adhesive is quick, easy, odorless, and there is no mess.  The peel and stick adhesive sticks like crazy! The peel and stick adhesive sticks best to a clean, smooth, painted or varnished surface.  Just peel off the release paper, position the veneer, and stick it down.  It's that simple!

Getting An Exact Fit

You might wonder “How do I get the veneer to fit exactly onto the surface that I’m veneering?”  Well, for most surfaces it’s real easy.  You cut the sheet of veneer about a half inch larger on all sides than the area that you are veneering.  Then, when the veneer is glued down you trim off the excess with a razor knife.

For areas that are inset, like an inset panel in a door, you will cut the veneer ahead of time to the exact size and you will take care when you lay it in place so that it fits perfectly.

Applying A Stain Or A Finish

Veneer is real wood.  You apply a stain or a finish to our wood veneers just like you would to any wooden surface. For more details, check out my tutorial on how to apply a stain or a finish to a wood veneer.

Here's a link for more info on wood veneers, how to apply them, how to finish them, how to buy them: 


I hope this quick lesson has been helpful.  Check out my other tutorials and videos for more details on veneers and veneering techniques.  I’m Bob Morgan at Bob Morgan Woodworking Supplies and the Veneer Factory Outlet.com