Storing (and Flattening) Veneer

Veneer should never be stored rolled up, or in hostile conditions. If it has been, however, here is advice on re-flattening any that survives. July 14, 2010

I recently received some veneer, and never having worked with the stuff before, I was wondering how to store it. What I have is 8' x 6" white oak quartered. Funny thing was I had it in the trunk of my car since I got it (for about a week). It was rolled up. I know the trunk of a car wasn't the best place for it. When I put in my shop with no heat or AC it was fine, but a week later it is starting to get wavy. I know it's a moisture thing, shrinking most likely. How does a person store veneer for a long period of time without this happening? Is there a way to flatten it again?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor I:
Obviously a lesson was learned here. Never leave veneer rolled up for any amount of time. If you want to store veneer for an extended amount of time, I would suggest wrapping it in plastic (rolled out flat) and placing several boards on top of it. As for getting it flat, GF-20 is a product made by Borden specifically for this purpose, however it is a several step process. If you have a press, great; if not, you'll need a lot of boards. Another option is to get some new veneer and start over.

From contributor B:
It is not a good idea to store rolled up or in a poorly controlled environment. I unroll mine as soon as I get it, number the sheets, and store in an overhead bin with cauls on top. It is kind of a pain to use an overhead bin when you have long sheets, but it saves space. Another option to contributor I's suggestion for flattening is an old solution consisting of alcohol, PVA, water and glycerin. You can find the mix ratios here I am sure. Both options are pretty tedious, as there is a drying process after you saturate it. Flattening is typically only needed when using crotch veneers or burls. The GF-20 will maintain the stock plasticity for about a day, then it will start to revert back. The other mixture will last much longer since it glue sizes the stock. I might be tempted to chalk this one up to a learning experience if we are not talking about a lot of stock.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. I'll do better next time for sure. The veneer didn't cost me anything, so money wise I am not out. I hate to toss anything, and I won't toss the veneer - you should see my scrap pile. Also the pieces I am going to use are small, 17 inches in length, so I should be able to work my way through it.

From contributor O:
The tried and true formula I use for a flattening solution is:
2 parts white or yellow glue
3 parts water
1 part glycerin
1 part denatured alcohol

I use a roller to apply on large pieces or a trigger bottle for smaller sheets. I used a 2 gallon garden sprayer to apply the solution on some 40 large walnut crotches. They were given to me because they were so badly warped. So a roller was less than acceptable. I adjust the spray to fine, spray both sides, lay flat on plastic window screen, start stacking, with window screen separating each sheet. Add the necessary weight. As the sheets flattened I added more weight. It's now flat but not dry.

Separate the sheets and restack in reverse with newspaper, 3-5 sheets between each sheet along with the screen. Check it and change the paper as necessary. I change it at least once at the end of the first day. When I do it outside in warm weather, it reduces the drying time to half. I change the paper 3-4 times.

The paper never touches the veneer; always separate it with the plastic window screen. I flattened the walnut in fall 1999, and the remaining stock is still flat.

From contributor E:
Ditto for contributor O's method. It's spot on. I have not used yellow glue, however. My mixture is the same, with powdered veneer bond resin glue. Same principles. I also use a garden sprayer. Makes a fine mist and keeps trigger fatigue at a minimum.