Veneer Panel Inlay Problem

"Lumpy" veneer causes trouble when routing for veneer inlay. Rigid glue and panel sanding are the suggested solution. January 13, 2006

I'm working with inlays in veneer for the first time. I'm building teak shaker doors with maple inlay border in the panel. My first plan was to adhere the 2 ply teak 1/4 cut veneer on 1/4 plywood, then use a jig and router to cut out the 1/8 groove for the inlay boarder. This plan failed miserably, as the router kept cutting deep in some areas and shallow or not at all on others. It is because the 2 ply veneer is slightly lumpy from the VG contact cement. I attempted plan two by laying the veneer on MDF and placing the jig/guide over it and cutting the groove, same result but less so. I can't go back to paper backed veneer, as I had the 2 ply teak (hand picked by the client) laid up for me. 2500 worth of veneer. How am I going to get the inlay to work?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From John Van Brussel, forum technical advisor:
Another option would be to build the face first (tape the veneers together) and then lay it on your substrate. After it is glued up, you can sand all components flush.

From contributor T:
Is the 2-ply you had laid-up lumpy, or are you managing to glue a flat and level 2-ply sheet to the substrate so full of lumps that you can't mill a groove in it? Sounds like you should sub out the whole job. Very many of us don't approve of contact cement for veneer, especially for high-end work.

From the original questioner:
The two ply is lumpy and the veneer grade contact did not help. I pressed one test panel using plastic resin with the same results, but less so. I think some sanding might help, as the teak veneer is very thick and will take it.

From contributor T:
Lay up your panels on whatever with a rigid glue, run them through a thickness sander, then do your inlay. You should be able to match depth/thickness well enough to finish sand without removing too much more material.