There are several ways of gluing the veneer to a substrate, there are pro’s and con’s with each of them as with anything else. A common misconception is that veneering is complicated and requires expensive tools such as hydraulic press or vacuum bag system.
Both these systems have their place but it would be very hard to come up with any type of veneering that could not be done with either veneer hammering or iron on pva glue.
We will have a closer look at both of these techniques and while this won’t be an instruction for how to the veneering it will give a good idea of what’s involved, what equipment is needed and most of all make it obvious how easy it is to do veneering.
Veneer hammering is the first technique we’ll look at as it is the oldest, and in most cases of antique furniture restoration it’s the preferred technique as it’s most likely what was used in the first place. The required equipment is a veneer hammer (that isn’t a hammer at all), hide glue and a means of heating up the hide glue.
- The first step is to heat the hide glue to melt it and give it the correct consistency. Hide glue is sold as small pearls or pellets. They need to be heated to the manufacturer's recommended temperature which normally is around 80o C. A double boiler is great for this and there are of course special hide glue heaters that can be purchased but something like the wax heaters sold on eBay at pretty good prices can also be used, just make sure you can reach the temperature required for the glue.
- Second step is to apply glue to the substrate, give it a pretty thick layer with a brush.
- Third step is to put the veneer onto the substrate with the top side down, yes put the top side down in the glue while applying glue to the glue side.
- Fourth turn the veneer around and make sure there is a bit of glue on the top side, this will work as lubrication for the hammering.
- Fifth step is the hammering of the veneer that doesn’t involve any kind of hammering at all. The veneer hammer looks more like a squeegee with a handle and is used to apply pressure to the veneer so that excess glue between veneer and substrate is pushed out to the sides.
Below are a couple of YouTube videos that shows this technique, take special note to how multiple sheets can be joined on the fly with this technique. This can be very useful in some cases.
The second technique we’ll look at is the heated dried pva glue technique for lack of a better name. This requires only normal pva glue and an iron and hence it must be regarded as the cheapest possible method of gluing veneer to a substrate.
- The first step is to apply glue to the substrate, be quite liberal and as always make sure to not miss any spot out at the edges.
- Second step is to apply glue to the veneer, it might help if you slightly dampen the top side of the veneer first as the veneer will tend to curl if glue (or any liquid) is applied to only one side.
- Third step is by far the easiest as it only involves waiting for the glue to dry, you want the glue to be beyond dry to the touch, I would recommend at least an hour but different pva glues, different substrate and veneers and perhaps most of all different temperature and humidity level will make the required time to wait to differ.
- Fourth step is to position the veneer on the substrate, the glue should be completely dry so you will have no problems to slide it around and position it exactly where it should be.
- Fifth step is to apply heat with the iron to re-activate the glue, make sure to continuously move the iron to avoid burning the veneer. The iron should be set at a relatively high setting.
Have a look at the video below that shows this technique quite well.
Either of these techniques is great and can be done with an absolutely minimum of equipment.