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Old 23rd December 2002, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default Calling Veneer Experts: Iron and Wood Glue

Well, if some of you have followed some of my earlier posts, you will remember that I had some difficulty with veneer.

I built a practice box to try some different techniques and a few questions have come up. I tried using wood glue and an iron.

Heres what I did:
First Try: paint veneer with wood glue and let dry, paint mdf with wood glue and let dry. Apply veneer to mdf with iron.
Results: Excellent adhesion, but the veneer curled severly as the glue was drying.

Second Try: paint veneer with wood glue and let dry, then iron onto raw mdf.
Results: adhesion was okay, but not great, but again the veneer curled severely

Third try: Paint mdf with wood glue and let dry, apply raw veneer with iron
Results: adhesion was the same as the 2nd try, only this cured the problem of the veneer curling

Current experiment: I am applying a coat of glue to the mdf and will let it dry. I will then put on a second coat of glue on the mdf and let it dry. Then I am going to iron on the raw veneer.
Expected results: Hoping to improve upon the adhesion of the 2nd and 3rd results.

The glue I have been using for all of the above is Lepage Suregrip Carpenters Glue. As far as I know, its just everyday yellow wood glue.

Onto my questions,
1. I read alot about PVA glue for this iron-on method. Is the glue I am using PVA? Should I buy something else?
2. Is there a way to prevent the veneer from curling to try option 1 and 2 again?
3. Any other ideas of what I should try?

Thanks for taking the time,
Jeff
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Old 23rd December 2002, 03:56 PM   #2
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Weight down the veneer with something while drying. Stack books or something on it. It will keep it flat while the glue cures.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 03:58 PM   #3
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So your saying I should not use the iron-on method? I should apply the glue and then apply immediatly????
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Old 23rd December 2002, 04:14 PM   #4
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Default Another way

I'm not really a veneer expert, but I've never had trouble when I've done it. Made a veneer covered rack cabinet some years ago, and it worked great; still looks wonderful. Same with the base for some speaker stands.

Not familiar with the Iron-on method with PVA glue. FWIW, I used DAP Weldwood contact cement. Paint both surfaces, let dry about 10 minutes, then stick them together, rolling with a small wooden veneer roller to get really tight adhesion. Sticks like no tomorrow. Probably less than $10 at Home Depot for a 16 oz. can.

The only drawback to my mind is that the stuff is very volatile and has some nasty chemicals in it. I found that I was allergic, and itched like crazy for two days after using it. The next time I used a respirator and made sure I didn't get any on my hands, worked with good ventilation, and had no problem.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 05:01 PM   #5
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Default for a large area like speakers

use 3M Contact cement.

You can also buy epoxy in the gallon size at automobile part supply stores. I guarantee this will work, but it's expensive and you will never, ever get the veneer off. When the original swan speakers were described in Speaker Builder (was it 1984) they used West Epoxy for the veneer.

You can fashion a veneer press to work with wood clamps. Take two sheet of 1/2" plywood a little longer than the surface you are working with. Lengthwise, attach 1 x 2 's to one side using #8 screws, with the narrow side perpendicular to the surface. Counterbore the holes so that the screw heads do not come into contact with the veneer. Slightly plane down the ends of the 1 X 2's so that they have a slightly bowed look. After the veneer is applied you clamp the two sheets of plywood to the sufarces, smooth side facing the veneer. You will find this "press" works quite well if you are using a slow-setting adhesive like epoxy. It was described in Fine Woodworking a long time ago.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 06:26 PM   #6
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I have always read the two various opinions on the method for attaching the veneer......contact cement, or iron-on with dried wood glue.

I tried using the contact cement when I originally built my first set of speakers and wasnt impressed with the way the edges turned out, so I thought I would experiment with the other method. With contact cement, it was a little too thick and where the two pieces came together at a corner, you could see a very fine glue line. I applied the contact cement according to the recommendations on the can (two thin dried coats on each surface, and applied pressure with a J-roller). With the wood glue method I am talking about, this glue line is not really visible. It seems to give a better "finished" look along the corners.

I am just looking for some tips and sugestions using this method.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 06:50 PM   #7
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I guess maybe I didn't understand completely your problem. I assumed you meant that you'd iron the veneer then while it was redrying it would curl up. So I suggested weighing it down after you ironed it.

Personally I always use contact cement and a roller as vpharris suggested. But the iron-on method is supposed to work good too. Maybe you're getting the veneer too hot and that is causing it to curl. Try a lower temp setting on your iron or just move it quicker over the veneer.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 07:33 PM   #8
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I just kinda fell into this thread, but I thought I'd offer the following:
--There was a veneer supplier in Tennessee (Bob Somebody-or-other Woodworking) that supplied large sheets of thermoset glue. Lay it down, put the veneer on top, iron, and you were done instantly. No muss, no fuss, no curling; just cut to size with scissors and go. I don't recall it as being very expensive.
For all I know they took it off the market for causing cancer in laboratory woodworkers.
I've always found contact cement to be a nuisance to work with. Yes, it holds well, but I never managed to get a really even spread no matter how hard I tried. Not the most user friendly product. When I do veneer now, I just do glue and press it. No heat.

Grey
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Old 23rd December 2002, 08:03 PM   #9
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The veneer is not curling due to heat. The glue is applied to the venner and its left to dry. The veneer is curling as the glue is drying. When dry, you use an iron to reactivate the glue and iron it onto the mdf. It sticks instantly, and very well, provided that the mdf and veneer both have a coat of glue. I am trying to either stop the veneer from curling while its drying, or find a way to apply the glue to the mdf only.

If you could offer information as to where to get the "glue sheets", that would be appreciated.

I have also considered using the glue in a press.....no iron, but that seems very time consuming, as only one or two surfaces could be done in a day. Since I only have weekends to work on my projects, It would take me about a month or so, just to apply the veneer. I guess Im just trying to find a quicker way. Maybe I should just order the iron-on veneer from tape-ease.
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Old 23rd December 2002, 08:29 PM   #10
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the veneer is curling because it and the substrate have absorbed moisture. When the moisture leaves the cellulose (wood fiber) shrinks back, but not in the way you originally intended. This is why a the 3M adhesive, epoxy or non-PVA are recommended -- especially for large surface areas.
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