Hand Gluing Veneer Onto a Curved Surface

Tips for gluing veneer onto a curved substrate. June 29, 2008

Sometimes we need to glue veneer on to a substrate by hand such as gluing veneer onto the front of a curved desk after the desk is built. We always try to bend thin MDF with veneer already hot pressed on, but sometimes we need to glue just veneer onto the curved part.

We have been using yellow woodworkers glue and putting a thin layer on the veneer and on the substrate, then iron it on. This works ok, but on wide pieces of veneer it tends to crack the veneer. It goes on fine but a day or two later cracks can open up on the veneer face. I think it is from the water in the glue, then dries back out and cracks the veneer face. Any ideas of another type of glue we could use?

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor P:
Hide the glue work very well for this application. It is historically accurate and how similar pieces were done in the past. I’ve never had any cracking problems with this method.

From contributor L:
The hide glue process that Contributor P mentions - hammer veneering, is fairly straight forward and inexpensive. You'll need dry glue, a glue pot, and a veneer hammer. I think that Lee Valley has added a veneer hammer to their catalog.

From contributor V:
You could also try Weldwood plastic resign glue. It comes in a powder and you can limit the amount of water in it. That’s why I started using it.

From contributor F:
Is the veneer backed or raw? Before suggesting an adhesive with a fast tack for the curved surface this point needs to be resolved. Also, is the veneer species specific and or cut specific?

From the original questioner:
The veneer is raw (no backing). The species and cut can vary, but there is a lot of flat cut eastern maple.

From contributor F:
Vacuum bag and urea/PPR glue is the only best bet since the veneer is not backed. I have the utmost respect for maple veneer because of its instability.