Gluing Veneer to a Hardwood Table

Thoughts on the best glue-up sequence for a veneered table top. September 27, 2008

I'd like to take a survey.

The client wants a 30" round table top 3/4" thick with a solid edge routed with an ogee bit. An octagon MDF substrate has eight pieces of solid mahogany about 2" wide glued on to the edges and then a 30" circle has been cut using a template. The solid wood edge is .5" at the thinnest part of the edge and about 1.5" at the widest. Both sides are sent through a wide belt sander so the piece is flat.

You now are getting ready for gluing up 1/42" veneer top and underside balancer. Assume urea glue is being used.

Question #1. You would do a:
A) 1 ply top and 1 ply bottom (same time).
B) 2 ply top and 2 ply bottom, adding each layer to the substrate in 2 glue ups.
C) 2 ply top and 2 ply bottom, gluing up the veneer plies in the first step (rotated 90 degrees of course), then gluing the 2 ply front and 2 ply back to the substrate in a second glue up.
D) 2 ply top and 1 ply bottom, gluing first ply of front and back at the same time, then secondly just the additional ply top last.
E) 2 ply top and 1 ply bottom, first step gluing up the 2 ply top, second step gluing the 2 ply top and backer to the substrate.

Question #2. You're doing another top with a solid oak edge instead of mahogany. (Oak has twice as much seasonal movement compared to mahogany.) Would your answer change?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)

From contributor J:
B or C (functionally the same). No difference for mahogany or oak.

From contributor T:
If the substrate is MDF, why would you use more than one layer of veneer?

From contributor R:
Glue up both sides with a good sound cross band veneer. Okume or mahogany works well. Let it stand for 24 hours. At this time you will probably notice a slight telegraphing of your hardwood edges. Send the piece through your sander until all telegraphing is gone. Press your face and back on at the same time. I recommend cold pressing if possible to eliminate any further chances of telegraphing. Whenever you're pressing veneer to a hardwood edged substrate you have to use a multi-step process like I just explained due to the fact that the hardwood and the substrate move at different rates, especially when you introduce heat. Regardless of all the technological breakthroughs in woodworking, the basics will always remain the same. Take your time and work with mother nature.