Veneering to a Bendable Substrate

Tips on getting a smooth, curved veneer face. October 2, 2006

I would like to know, from anyone who has experience with these, how well Timber Flex or Kerfkore would work for the following application. We need to press veneer (no contact adhesive) to a bendable material and then apply to curved faces of a reception desk. Of all the different radiuses that we need to bend to, the smallest is 20cm (7-7/8"). The veneer will be highly figured Sapele with the grain running opposite to the curve. Quality is more important than price. I am concerned that with the Kerfkore, the kerfs may telegraph through to the face. I need to know how well each of these will bend around the required radiuses without distortion. Or, is there is another material that you recommend?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A:
You would be better off using Lauan rather than 1/8 poplar to smooth out the surface. Kerf can telegraph more with high gloss finish. Here's a trick you might want to try. After the back structure is ready, put Titebond 1 on the back and on the veneer back with a roller. Let both dry this is very important. Then, iron the veneer on. This works like a charm.

From contributor B:
If you are using Kerfkore and a paperback veneer it will telegraph through. I just did something similar and to avoid that same issue, I resawed poplar really thin -1/16"- then used contact adhesive to glue it to the Kerfkore while it was flat. Then I ran it through a drum sander to smooth it out and make it thinner. I then applied that to my curved cabinet and then applied the paperback veneer. It came out nice with no telegraphing.

From contributor C:
Timberflex already has the 1/8 poplar face, but Timberflex can only be laminated/veneered after its bent to the required radius.

From contributor D:
Try FlexBoard, it is made by the same guys. It is a through-kerfed PB core with a high density fiberboard 1/8" overlay. So there is no telegraphing and you can veneer it flat with semi-flexible glues, such as PVA or a modified urea for hot pressing. Then take the panel and wrap your desk using band clamps, and if you want, another sheet of Flexboard used as a caul to help distribute some of the band clamp pressure.

From the original questioner:
I have decided to do it in sections on our vacuum table, with no kerfed material. Thanks for your suggestions.