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Old 20th October 2011, 01:22 AM   #1
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Default finish the plywood or veneer it - that is the question

Calling all seasoned experts, and those who just did either and wished they had gone the other route...

I will (hopefully) soon build a pair of the planet10 Frugel-Horns and am debating finish options. Complicating factor: I am not 100% sure what look I will want to go for, but definitely a lighter wood color finish.

I have never applied veneer other than the (crappy) iron-on edge strips. I have some experience in getting hardwood to look nice.
I have read all the threads and referenced materials that come up in a search here and elsewhere, so I kind of know the steps involved.

My question really is: Should I even consider veneering on this project or are the chances for initial success not very high? The process sounds reasonably straightforward and I am real good at following procedures/instructions (don't ask my parents to confirm this, please...), but past experience makes me very aware of the devil(s) in the detail.

Any guidance, should I go for it or better stick with sanding/sealing/waxing?

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 20th October 2011, 10:31 PM   #2
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I allways used pre-veneered 3/4" ply. More expensive, but oh-so-easy. Most furniture makers use it and should be available in specialty wood supply stores. From my experience this is also a better grade of ply than standard. Should you go this route, get the edge veneer at the same time so it matches the ply.
A friend of mine (yes, I have one) build boxes trying to veneer them after construction. Lots of time and money wasted. He ended up glueing velvet (no Elvis!) over top of the veneer onto the boxes to cover the oopses. Looked really nice (but than that was in the 70s)! E

Last edited by mickeymoose; 20th October 2011 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 21st October 2011, 04:51 PM   #3
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Hey Mickeymoose,
thanks for your response. My failure to mention that the Frugel-Horn build will be done with a flatpack from planet10 allowed you to elegantly evade my two-option question and offer a third one...

The pre-veneered plywood is a great idea, but it'll have to wait until another build in the future.
Stefan
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Old 21st October 2011, 06:33 PM   #4
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The challenge with finishing large surfaces with veneer is the clamping of the veneer to the ply. Veneer is not flat like a sheet of paper. It ripples with the grain and often varies in thickness. I used contact cement as an adhesive, 6 mil plastic between the veneer and the clamp. The cement will leak out through the pores of the veneer and the lot will need to be seperated, and cleaned after, very carefully. E
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Old 21st October 2011, 06:55 PM   #5
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I've used really thin veneers <1 mm thick. Cut pieces according to size, apply contact adhesive to both surfaces, leave for 5-10 minutes, then apply with the help of a pipe and hot iron. The veneer becomes like a big "sticker" and you need to be careful that you lay it out evenly. Had good results with this technique advised to me by none other than Chrisb.
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