Re-Applying Veneer to a Thick Table Edge

Here's some advice on veneer pressing and adhesive choice, with a thorough description of how to hammer veneer using hide glue.June 8, 2011

The edges in the curved desk below taper in thickness. I used solvent based contact cement - two coats on the substrate (particle board - kerfboard), and one coat on the 10 mil paperback anigre veneer. It was applied with wood scraper and hammer and block. It stayed flat and beautiful on the curved surfaces as well as the radius corners. It was beautiful for six weeks, then it went to the finishing room for pre-catalized lacquer sealer and wiping stain then pre-cat topcoat.

I just noticed the veneer on the edges is checking, small checks as well as along one of the joints between flitches. This veneer was purchased on a 10 mil backer. Itís not all checking, just on the inside curve and the flat end, and around the radius corners very small checks. I may have too heavy of a coat of lacquer on it. Will that cause the glue to soften and allow the veneer to check?

I don't trust it now and want to remove it and the glue. Then use FSV glue on the edge with clamps and kerf board to press it. I don't see how a vacuum bag would work without crinkling the veneer on the curves as it would be cut oversize and veneer won't bend in two directions at the same time. Thus the bag would bend the top and bottom edges of veneer over onto the surface of the desk and screw it up? Am I wrong in this thinking?

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Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor J:
I know you've read it here before - contact cement is never a good adhesive choice for veneer. It is just too flexible. Not sure about the FSV, I don't have any experience with it. I would make curved cauls and press it with cold press glue, or use solid anigre for the edges. Another thing I've done with success for curves is to press the veneer on 1/8" bending ply flat in the bag. Then you can sand it while itís flat, then apply it to your kerfcore backer or a lamination of other bending ply. It works great.

From the original questioner:
I was hesitant to use contact cement for this very reason, but after talking to some veneer guys, they thought because it had a paperback it would be okay. I had the cold press FSV but did not realize the extent of setup some people go through to press veneer. So the contact cement had the advantage of not needing clamped. I'm pretty sure the solvent in the finish caused the contact cement to soften.

Anyway now I need to remove the veneer on the edge and get all the glue off before I can use the FSV glue. Itís a high tack, fast setting cold press glue from Custom Bond. It worked well on the inlay doors for this project. It claims a semi rigid glue line to hold the veneer tight. Its advantage is fast set and limited press time. My question now is can I get all the contact cement off to allow the glue to bond to the wood edging? It won't be fun getting the glue off - any tricks you know of?

From contributor G:
Lacquer thinner should remove it - that's what softened it in the first place.

From contributor J:
This would also be a good application for hot hide glue. No clamping there either.

From contributor O:
You can't imagine how easy that is with hide glue and a veneer hammer.

From the original questioner:
Where can I get hide glue? I'm in Phoenix. Does this need heated? Do you spread it on the veneer or the substrate? I've never used it so instructions would be appreciated.

From contributor F:
In Phoenix, FSV works well. You will probably have to replace the veneer and be sure to get the substrate perfectly clean. I would apply the FSV to the substrate only, with a foam roller not knap, you will have five minutes or less of open time to get the veneer in register. The glue will dry faster near the edges of the top so a little extra will extend the time during this season. Avoid dry or glue starved surfaces. Apply the FSV at a 5 mil thickness and put it down with a wood scraper (hammer). You can wet set FSV and get excellent adhesion but the scraper pressure takes a little longer. If you get some drying you can re-wet the adhesive. You may have some difficulty on the outside of the radius because FSV is a slower grab than contact but it should work.