Removing Veneer from Backer

A cabinetmaker wants to pull the backer off of some backed veneer. Others provide advice. August 29, 2006

We recently built a kitchen with bamboo slab doors and a zebrawood cabinet for a bathroom. Both veneers have a heavy backing that looks like lauan to me. We are looking for a way to remove the veneer from the backer, as we have a handful of items to make for them and they have specified they do like the reddish reveal that the backer causes. They may be picky but the checks don't bounce. We have tried an acetone soak, but have not tried heat yet. I'm guessing the glue is a urea formaldehyde glue. We're only messing with this since we have plenty of leftover veneer to use this for and it matches the color of what's already there.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Glue a piece of your veneer face down to a piece of plywood, gluing only on the corners, then run it through the planer until only the veneer is left, and then cut the corners off. Now you have a fresh piece of veneer. Planing veneer core ply or lauan makes some noise but it will give you back your expensive veneer.

From contributor B:
There has to be a reason you don't buy real veneer, with no backing, and just lay it up, but you don't state the reason. I can see why the customer would object to the red line. Good veneer design practice would call for solid wood edgings that would eliminate the red line visibility. This goes double for wood on wood veneers. It is always better to go to the basics, rather than the new and improved.

From contributor C:
My first thought was to either order a vacuum press and some raw, unbacked veneer or if you don't want to mess with that, order some PSA veneer and apply it to your substrate as the PSA has no colored backing.

From contributor D:
I would have to agree that just getting the raw veneer and laying it up would be the best way to avoid the line. By way of a constructive response, you could perhaps run it through a wide belt sander instead. This would give you a little more control than a planer would on veneer. Unless the leaf to leaf stitching is remarkably strong, the veneer may come undone into its individual leaves after having the backer sanded off, kind of like you would get if you purchased raw veneer in the first place. Color match on zebrawood shouldn't be too much of a problem, and to go to this much trouble sounds like you are taking the long way home.