Adhesive Choice for Phenolic-Backed Veneer

Glue-up advice for adhering phenolic-backed skins to phenolic-impregnated honeycomb stiffener panels. January 26, 2008

I will be fabricating some large (4' x 4') cabinet doors out of stock 1" sheet material (phenolic impregnated craft honeycomb sandwich with 1/8 MDF faces), and veneering it with a Brookside composite/recon veneer. I am looking for some advice on adhesive choice. I know that a PVA or urea would be the best choice for a standard or paperbacked veneer, but given that the veneer has a phenolic back just like laminate, would there be a reason against using contact cement? (Contact would be faster than pressing in the vacuum bag.) If a PVA or urea glue is always better, what would the benefit be of the supplier producing the veneer with a phenolic back?

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor H:
You can use contact cement without any problem. Tape off the veneer on face so that it does not get on your veneer.

From contributor B:
I've used contact cement on phenolic backed veneer with good results. I would, however, make sure that the backer is thick enough to be sure that you would not see any telegraphing of the texture of the glue through once you finish up the pieces (of course, high gloss would be the most susceptible to this effect). A test piece is always recommended.

I've used both a roller (lo nap) and a canister type spray setup, and I enjoyed the Sta-put brand of spray over the other applications. I didn't like any of the water based products in either format (too thick). Also, the sweat on my forehead reminds me to tell you to watch out for humidity. After doing Formica for years, one day the contact cement just wouldn't stick at all. I had never had this experience before, but it proved to be the moisture in the air!

Be careful not to get too hurried when setting the veneer down on the surface. Allow it to completely gas off to permit all the fumes to escape before being contained (they're going to come out regardless and you don't want them fighting through your finish at the edges).

All that said, don't be scared. I've had great results and would do it again.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the input. I did decide to go with the (sprayed) contact cement for the obvious reasons of expediency. We did take the extra measure of placing our door and drawer panels into our vacuum bag after trimming and j-rolling the lay-up, in hopes of getting that intimate bond. On our door edges we simply used contact cement followed by hand scraping/pressing with a hardwood block. We have pressed numerous panels at this time (most being around 4' x 4') with good results.