Veneering Rounded Corners

Methods for smooth application. February 28, 2004

I'm looking for a technique for applying veneer to a round tabletop with a radiused top edge. I'd like to know how I can determine where to make cuts so that the veneer will lay down smoothly all the way to the bottom edge of the surface.

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
Veneer has its limits and you are pushing the envelope. Compound cures separate the artists from the rest of us. It might be time to think of an alternative solution.

We (Veneer Systems) have a video called "Working in a Vacuum." It shows a craftsmen applying veneer to a radiused round table top in a vacuum bag. In a nutshell it goes like this:

Treat the veneer with a softening agent and draw partial vacuum until the top is pressed and you have some loose bag at the edge. Use a hardwood roller and roll over the bag, smoothing out and working the veneer into place. Draw a little more vacuum, work the edges and continue until done.

The table in this case was about 42 or 48 inches diameter. It turned out perfect.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. We don't have a vacuum system, but it's something we certainly can look into. We've been trying a few things with a membrane press. We get good results going with the grain, but across the grain, we get wrinkles.

Cut a piece of craft paper the same size as your veneer and place that on your board. Now cut the paper perpendicular to the edge of the board and back to the point of curvature - at about 1" spacing. Progressively fold those strips around the edge and tape into place allowing them to wrap the edge naturally. You will see the amount of compression by the lap between successive strips.

If you have to cut that will give you the correct amount, but I have to caution you that the results may not be visually acceptable depending on the grain pattern.

How thick is the top you are making? If you are going from horizontal to full vertical it will be very difficult to avoid this problem even on a relatively large radius. A "waterfall" edge is far easier to work with.

Also use a slip sheet between the veneer and the membrane - a piece of Mylar works well - and lightly mist the veneer before pressing.

Type of adhesive and press cycle all play into this as well.