Glue Type and Veneer Movement

A complex veneer pattern may move noticeably in relation to its substrate more noticeably, if the adhesive is flexible. January 28, 2014

I built a dining table for a client roughly 42 x 108 that was basically a half circle shape with fanned veneers. The material was a paper backed quartered anigre over a double layered MDF veneered both sides, vacuum bagged with powdered veneer glue from a major supplier. The finish was done by a local cabinet shop of his choice in a matte finish.

After a couple of years there are some lines visible in the joints of the veneer if you get in the right light. He had the cabinet company refinish it once because sitting at the table in his penthouse condo in front of an all glass wall you see every imperfection, or at least he does.

The original discussion I had with him I warned him wood is wood and there will always be some movement. He wanted me to build it of solid lumber originally. Can this table be expected to remain perfect with a marginal finish in front of glass windows and of that size?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor T:
The glue between the paper and the veneer is a PVA type, which is soft. It will always be on the move more than raw veneer using PPR glue.

From the original questioner:
So your suggestion is unbacked veneer for this application?

From contributor T:

Yes, in my opinion if one was going to use paper back it would be for making paneling and not a layup face.

From contributor J:
Modern softer adhesives focus on flexibility while maintaining grip (for better or worse). Old school used the only glue they had - hide glue, meaning rock hard inflexibility up to about 400 degrees!

If the table is exposed to any direct sunlight you can expect problems no matter what. You're lucky you didn't make it from solid wood pieces (as the owner suggested); it would have been back in pieces by now.

From the original questioner:
The customer is one of those guys, never happy. The table still looks fabulous, and you really have to get down at an angle to see the seams. I think based on the size of the table and the pie shaped veneers, any method of glue, backed or not backed, was bound to show some expansion and contraction. The finish in my opinion didn't help matters either - looked very thin and kind of cheesy from day one.