Touching Up Veneer Defects

A white line at joints in veneered panels poses a problem. Pros suggest visual fixes, and ways to avoid such problems in the future. March 1, 2006

I had several 4 x 8 and 4 x 10 (10 mil paperbacked) sheets of quartered veneer laid up on some 3/4 mdf to be used for slab doors and drawer fronts. At first glance, the panels looked pretty good, but now that I'm making finish samples from the scrap I'm noticing that the joints where the quartered veneer is spliced together are either open or leaving a white line down the length of the splice. Is there a filler I can use prior to staining and finishing these pieces that can hide and blend this problem or is there another suggestion I should try? I believe the gaps could be filled with something to match the final finish, however these white lines seem to be perfectly flat with the surface and other than running a utility blade down the seam and then filling, I am at a loss what to do. For the future, what should I look for when choosing veneer for this type of project??

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
You should outsource to people who do this for a living exclusively - they've got the equipment and the expertise.

From the original questioner:
This job was outsourced. Does anyone have any constructive suggestions??

From contributor B:
Is the wood an open grain species where you could use paste filler all over, and fill/cover/stain the problem area with the entire panel?

From contributor C:
Get a fine point artist's brush and some finish mixed with appropriate color and have at it. We've been getting a lot of plywood with same problem, especially cherry. I'd let the supplier of these sheets know that they're bad. At least you'll know by their response whether or not to continue business with them.

From contributor A:
Iím sorry - I thought you did the panels. If I received laid up panels with open seams I'd send them back. That is unacceptable. Is your customer going to accept paste filler? That's a lot of work to do to cover somebody else's incompetence.

From contributor D:
I blend out similar defects with cherry veneer by using brown artist felt tip pens available at art supply stores. They come in an amazing variety of colors and shades, and have sharp tips which can be used with a straight edge to blend out a glue line.

From the original questioner:
To contributor D: Your suggestion seems to be the best at this point. I have a finish rep from my hardware supplier coming out to my shop on Monday with an assortment of marker blending sticks to see what we can do to hide these seams. I also forgot to mention that I outsourced the edgebanding, and guess what - they used white pvc glue on a maple veneer and edgebanding, so now I also have to hide these glue lines. The story they gave me was that they run white on everything - even black melamine - and use markers to hide the glue line. I suggested re-edgebanding the job with a natural glue but they told me that it would take a month to purge their edgebander of the white. I don't have an automatic edgebander for thick material like I used on this job, so I canít say if this is accurate.

From contributor E:
Here are my suggestions:
1. Buy the maple hot pressed directly to the core.
2. Require the splices to be hard glue spliced as opposed to Kuper string spliced.
3. Require the splicing glue to be color matched to the maple veneer.
4. Suggest a light mist of water on the veneer edge before applying glue. This will keep the glue from seeping into the wood and causing a glue line that is impossible to sand out. Maple is very difficult to work with and requires an experienced Plywood company. No bags, no soft glues, and no paper.
5. If they can't give you a better color glue for the edgebanding, then this company is too big to care, or too small to afford it, or your job isn't worth it for them.

From contributor F:
I agree with contributor Eís points about workmanship, but I have to disagree about the importance of a solid glue line splice on maple. We stitch maple with an old Kuper all the time and get flawless seams. It's all about workmanship.

From contributor G:
There is a filler called Famowood that is an alcohol based product and the color matches very well.