wiseWood veneer ++ 5490 Gatewood Dr. ++ Sterling Heights, MI 48310 ++ Toll free: 855.883.6337 (855.8VENEER)
Local: 586.825.2387 ++ Fax: 586.825.2390 ++

October 26, 2011

You Need to Veneer Something and You Have to Use Contact Cement

You have a project, you want to use paper backed wood veneer, and you have to use contact cement. Can it be done? How? The quick answer is yes, it can be done. It can be done by you and it can be done successfully. The key is to consider and prepare for all the potential pitfalls that arise with a flexible glue line. To apply flexible wood veneer with contact cement is not difficult but the method is meticulous and there are no short cuts. Below you can find comprehensive instructions for adhering paperbacked veneer with contact cement. On large projects or full size panel layups this method can be very labor intensive.

Applying wood veneer with contact cement is an acceptable method when other methods aren’t available or practical. By following these established practices and recommendations you will have good success using contact cement with 20mil paperbacked, wood backed and phenolic resin backed wood veneer. Do not use contact cement to adhere raw or unbacked wood veneers.

Wood Veneer Application When Using Contact Cement

When you receive your veneer you must allow time for it to acclimate to your environment prior to use. To accomplish this it’s necessary to remove the veneer from the packaging and lay it flat for a minimum of 48 hours up to 4 days. It may be necessary to apply some weight on the ends of the sheet to help retain flatness during this period. The ideal environment for this process is between 35% and 50% relative humidity and temperature levels between 65 to 80 degrees F. It is also important to allow your substrate material to acclimate in the same conditions for the same amount of time as the veneer. This will ensure that materials will be relatively equal in terms of relative moisture and temperature. It’s best to plan ahead if possible and avoid veneering when conditions of high humidity or extreme dry conditions are expected.

Adhesives for Wood Veneer
Solvent based contact adhesives work best for wood veneering with our products. When it is necessary to use water based adhesives you may want to consider using a phenolic resin backed wood veneer. Before using any adhesive be sure it is at room temperature and properly mixed as the solids which create the bond strength tend to settle much like pigment in paint. Brush or roller grade adhesives are best to achieve 100% coverage on all surface areas. Spray grade adhesives can be used but you must be sure you get 100% surface coverage. It’s necessary to coat both surfaces that are to be bonded. It’s not always necessary but on some smooth glossy surfaces it will help bond strength if you scuff sand the surface with 120 grit sandpaper prior to glue application. If the substrate is “open” or “porous” it will require a second application of glue as the first coat will partially absorb into the surface. This is most likely to occur when using plywood as your substrate. All contact cements require time for the solvents to “flash off” before the two surfaces can be mated together. This period, referred to as “open time” will be specified by the manufacturer and should be adhered to. Extreme conditions such as high heat, high humidity, low temperatures etc., can effect the open time so some discretion must be used under these conditions. It is important to understand and follow the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations on application of their product.

Tools and Supplies for Wood Veneering
There are a few basic supplies and tools to have ready before you veneer. You will need a good quality contact cement, small roller or brush for glue application, a veneer scraper or smoothing tool and separator strips. Veneer scrapers can be purchased commercially and typically consist of a wooden handle and a stiff blade of polycarbonate or lexan about 4” wide. You can also make one by using a piece of hardwood approximately 4” wide by 12 to 16” in length. Make sure one end is cut nice and straight and use sandpaper to gently ease the corners and edge to eliminate any sharp lines. If you want you can also contour the upper portion of the handle to create a comfortable grip. With this smoothing blade you will generate excellent leverage and good pressure on the surface. The separator strips can be pieces of hardwood, MDF or hardboard or some people use wooden dowels. They should be long enough to span the width of the piece you are veneering. We don’t advocate the use of any type of J-roller for veneer application. You will not generate enough pressure with any type of J-roller.


At WiseWood Veneer we have all the popular domestic, exotic, and reconstituted wood veneer species in stock on FlexVen™ 10 (10mil), FlexVen™ 20 (20 mil), and Tuf-Pli™ (polyback or phenolic) backed flexible wood veneers.

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