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Veneering in the 3rd world

Westsailor Member

I am a better than average 'DIY'er underway on a project replacing a few panels on a sailboat in Guatemala. The original 1/2" ribbon mahogany plywood had suffered dryrot over the years (the leaks causing the dryrot have since been repaired).

Mahogany plywood is currently non-existent in Guatemala so I thought to import some WOW ribbon mahogany veneer and apply it to the 1/2" plywood panels being replaced. The largest panel is approx 3' X 4' in size.

Adhesive selection here is limited. It's might be possible to find some over the counter 3M spray on adhesive but other than that it would be limited to water based 'wood glue' types.

I originally intended to use contact cement but after reading the pro's advice here not to use it I'm really hesitant to proceed.

Now I'm considering a 2 part polyester "epoxy" resin with plywood sheets as a press weighted with dead weight.

Any advice on increasing the chance of success on this 'in the field' job?

3/18/13       #3: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Charles  Member


As a sailor I would say the only hope you have is epoxy. Contact adhesive in the sun will hot hold for long. 3M 4200 or 5200 are really not for large surfaces. Try to get a WOW 3-ply that is 3/32, it holds it's own flatness and should work good with epoxy. Borrow all the clamps and cauls you can and put something over the veneer at least 3/4: thick to spread the pressure. Remember that with epoxy, too much pressure in not good.

We can make the 3-ply for you but I'm not sure how you would get them from here. Maybe someone in Central AM. can make them for you.

FYI, I have 2 sailboats and there is no wood on either ! No accident. Beautiful boats are great to look at, but too much maintenance ! (there is a woman analogy there somewhere)

3/20/13       #4: Veneering in the 3rd world ...

I think that you should be able to put together a vacuum bag for clamping.

I have read articles where people have put bags together from plastic shower curtains. You should be able to find a surplus vacuum pump somewhere. Venturi pumps will work with a compressor, and they are small enough to mail in an an envelope.

Take a look at this site for some ideas, on veneering and vacuum clamping in general. The pump I use is put together from his plans, and it works very well.

Vacuum Clamping

3/20/13       #5: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Westsailor Member

re: vacuum system. I could probably get my hands on the brass fittings but that's about it. When I say 3rd world I'm not joking.

I have the following adhesives available:
Grade 'B' contact cement
3M '77' All purpose spray adhesive
PVA wood glue
Polyester resin (2 part)

I'm looking for a long term adhesion. Indoor but 'high' (80-90%) humidity environment.

My plan is to apply the veneer using a block of wood to smooth (middle to edges). Then sandwich the veneer/substrate (plywood) between two sheets of plywood with dead weight distributed evenly over the surface for oh 24 hrs.

Advice? Suggestions?

3/21/13       #6: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Jim Baldwin  Member


As a Guatemalan cruising sailor, I don't think you need to make a "federales" case out of this. I suspect (given your latitude) that Epoxy and vacuum bagging might be a bit expensive or impractical?

So what would Practical Sailor advise?

I think I would just roll-on the Titebond 2 or 3 and lay-on the veneer. I'd stack my panels between plywood culls and and shovel a foot of dry beach sand over the whole thing and "call it a day".

(Solar shower bags also make great water-weights and provide added heat.) I'll bet you have at least a pair somewhere? I do.)

Unless you're planning to anchor over a submerged, active volcano and submerse your Westsail into boiling sea water, the Titebond should be adequate . You can also press and smooth your Titebonded veneer into position with an electric clothes "Iron" (provided you have electricity).

If you're still not sure you can always use powdered plastic resin. (Mix well with an old eggbeater for no lumps)

3/21/13       #7: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Charles  Member


Well, there is a lot of options here. I would go epoxy. No matter, if you have a shop vac available, you can use that as a vac pump. My shop foreman did it as an experiment and it worked. Just hook up the vac end hose to a bag or in your case, lay a pc of plastic/ vinyl over your work and duct tape it in place around the outside edges. That will seal it. Once the air is out, you will have 15psi.

3/21/13       #8: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Westsailor Member

Hmmm... now there is a thought. I have a small (2 1/2 HP) shop vac and plenty access to plastic/vinyl sheeting. It certainly sounds easy/cheap enough to at least experiment. Thanks for the idea.

Two part polyester resin is readily available and relatively cheap ($30/gal). True epoxy resin is available and not so cheap ($100/gal). I would estimate I would need no more than a quart.

3/21/13       #9: Veneering in the 3rd world ...

I agree with the recommendations to use epoxy if it is at all possible. I don't know if you have access to any plastic resin glues such as WeldWood. A quart of that in the US is about $10.00

The shop vac will produce about 5-6" HG (mercury) of vacuum. This is less than optimal, but it may be better than trying to stack dead weight on top of the panels. Not sure where the 15 PSI figure came from.

1 Atmosphere at sea level typically = 14.7 psi or 29.92 HG

6 Hg" / 29.92 Hg" = 0.20053

14.7 psi X 0.20053 = 2.94" PSI of downward pressure.

I would be more inclined to build a screw type press with cauls. I don't know if you have access to any threaded rod. This would produce enough pressure to let you use PVA (tightbond) if you had to.

3/21/13       #10: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
Charles  Member


The 15 PSI (aka 14.7) was based on removing the air from the bag. When the air is out, That's what you get. You are saying that we can't remove the all the air with a vac. Frankly, I don't know. I would say that what we did with the vac was as powerful as one of our big pumps, just slower. We have 6 vac pumps here from 3 to 10 HP. so we have a sense of what it takes. However, we did not have a vac gauge on the vac cleaner. For the project in question, putting down a this wood 3-ply is really a cake walk in terms of pressure, lot's easier that using raw veneer.

3/22/13       #11: Veneering in the 3rd world ...
John Van Brussel


I have veneered a skateboard deck using a Vacuvin hand pump. These are used for resealing an open bottle of red wine to keep it fresh. It worked fine and the skateboard deck is still holding together today 8 years later. I know a lot of boat builders use the sheet of vinyl and tape it to the hull and then draw the vacuum. Sometimes you cannot take the hull apart.

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