JoeWoodworker Veneer
The Official Website of this Non-Professional Woodworker ™

Part 1

Veneering Basics

14 Good Reasons
Vacuum Press Uses
Vacuum Press Options

Questions & Answers
Part 2
Project: EVS Vacuum Press

About Project: EVS
Parts List
Pump Selection
Build the Manifold
Build the Sub-Manifold
Build the Reservoirs
Make the Carrier
Final Assembly
Wire the Press
Testing and Adjusting
Mods and Options
Part 3
Vacuum Bagging

Vacuum Bag Basics
Polyurethane vs. Vinyl
DIY Vacuum Bags (A)
DIY Vacuum Bags (B)
Connect the Bag
Bag Closures
Bag Platens
Breather Mesh
DIY Frame Press

Part 4
Veneering Information

About Veneer
Veneering Glossary
Veneering Myths
Balancing a Panel

Veneer Glues
Veneering Tips
Substrate Materials
Flattening Veneers
A Sharp Veneer Saw
Jointing Veneers
Taping Veneers
Dealing with Defects
Curing Glued Panels
Veneering w/o Vacuum
Hammer Veneering
Iron-On Veneering
Veneer Storage
Amazing Bookmatches
Copper Veneer Guide
Paperbacked Veneer

Edgebanding Guide

Part 5
Miscellaneous Info

Vacuum Press FAQ
Veneering FAQ
Veneer Glue FAQ
Copper Veneer FAQ
Vacuum Forming
Vacuum Chucking
Vacuum Clamping Pedal
Vacuum Clamping Jigs
Vacuum Clamp Matrix
DIY Vacuum Manifold
Vacuum Press Gallery 1
Vacuum Press Gallery 2
Downloads (PDF's)


Vacuum Veneering - Tips, Tricks, and More

Veneer Adhesive Guide

Iron-On Veneer Glue is the latest craze in veneering because it's easy, convenient, and inexpensive. This glue is applied to the substrate and the veneer back and allowed to dry. The veneer is then placed on top of the project panel and heated with a clothes iron. Heat Lock™ is excellent stuff... especially for small, curved or oddly shaped pieces. Click here to learn more. This adhesive is not a replacement for a vacuum press; it's a complement to it.

Heat Lock™
Veneer Glue

Cold Press Glues are available in two types. One is a premixed liquid glue, and the other is a powder in which the user must add water. The differences between these glues and yellow PVA glue are what make these more suitable for veneering.

Cold press veneer glue such as Better Bond X-Press is typically much thicker than yellow glue which means less bleed-through. X-Press veneer glue dries to a hard film that does not allow as much "creep" or movement of the veneers on the substrate.

Better Bond X-Press™ veneer glue is available is 3 wood tones (light, medium, and extra dark). The use of a glue which is tinted to match the tone of your veneer is completely optional. The benefit of the toned veneer is a less conspicuous glue line and a significant reduction in the after-effect of sanding the veneer too much. It is also great for filling voids in burl veneers. If you're not doing a lot of veneer work and just need a general purpose veneer glue, go with the medium tone version.

Pre-Catalized powdered resin (PPR) glues are suitable for cold and hot pressing. The choice between a PPR adhesive and standard cold press glues should be based on the type of use the veneered project will be subjected to. PPR glues such as Ultra-CAT™ are more heat/water resistant. This type of glue is also ideal for bent laminations, crotch grain veneer, and thick veneers.

I use X-Press veneer glue for 95% of the panels I build. The powdered glue may offer more heat and water resistance, but any project that would be subjected to that much environmental abuse would not be a likely candidate for a high end piece of veneer to begin with!

Epoxy can be used in veneer work but its expensive, requires mixing, and has a short life once it is mixed. Epoxy is best used for substrates where ordinary veneer glue will not adhere (plastics, etc).

The good news is that it's a highly effective grain filler for veneer that you are not going to stain or dye. The key is to use a plastic spreader and use just a little more hardener than you normally would. When it's dry, hand sand the panel with 150 grit paper and finish with your favorite top coat.


Polyurethane Glue bonds to anything. It is suitable for veneering when the veneer has to be pressed to a non-porous surface such as plastic. I would suggest using this glue only on small panels because it is difficult to spread, and it bleeds-through more than most adhesives due to the foaming action. It's also quite expensive.

Unibond 800 is a two part urea resin glue that offers excellent adhesion and stability. The real benefit is that you are not introducing water to the veneer and substrate which can cause seams to separate, thin substrates to warp, and some veneers to develop moldy areas. Clean up can be difficult and a gallon of this adhesive is a bit expensive, but for that ultra-special veneer, this might be your best option. This adhesive is also good for adhering oily veneers such as rosewood. Unibond requires 4 to 6 hours in the vacuum press to bond.

Yellow glue (PVA) is probably the first glue that comes to mind when you say "glue" to a woodworker. Despite the recommendations of many woodworkers, I have never found yellow glue to be suitable for veneering. This type of glue never fully hardens, and thus allows the veneer to "creep" or move during seasonal changes in humidity. And because of its thin consistency, yellow glue also has a tendency to bleed through and discolor the veneer. Lastly, since yellow glue dries with a soft glue line, it is also very difficult to sand.

Yellow Glue
Yellow Glue

Hotmelt glue film is not good for veneering. I have only had limited success with this type of adhesive. When I have used it, the veneer looked nice at first and a day later it had bubbled up and the project was ruined. This adhesive was developed for the fabric industry and its use in veneering is highly questionable. I'd recommend the Heat Lock glue instead because it penetrates the wood surfaces more than hotmelt film.

Hide Glue is the most traditional veneering adhesive. Its use dates back over 4,000 years ago to Egyptians who used it on furniture for the pharaohs. The method is called hammer veneering which derives its name from the use of a tool called a veneer hammer. The hammer is used to press the veneer sheets onto the substrate. The method also requires a means of heating the glue typically in a "double boiler." Hide glue is very durable and it can be re-heated and reactivated if bubbling occurs. Hide glue can not be used in a vacuum press unless the appropriate salt or urea is added. For those interested in hammer veneering without the use of hide glue, check out the FSV adhesive below.

Veneer Hammer
Veneer Hammer

FSV or Flex-Pro is a good adhesive for paper-backed veneers when a vacuum press and a cold press veneer glue can not be used. This type of adhesive is not suitable for unbacked wood veneer.

It is applied in a manner similar to contact cement and has a very high initial tack but it dries harder and doesn't allow delamination when cured. Generally speaking, it should be used on porous substrates but I've had success using this glue to veneer over painted window and door jambs as well as stair stringers. It is also an excellent adhesive for those who prefer the traditional hammer veneering method.

Contact Cement is available in two versions. One is solvent-based and is highly flammable. It emits dangerous fumes that can linger in the shop for days.

Thanks to advances in chemical technology, there are now water-based contact cements which are non-toxic and work as well or better than the solvent-based type. For several years, water-based contact adhesives were considered inferior to the solvent-based cements (and they were inferior) but this has changed dramatically with the introduction of water-based cements such as Titan DX™.

Keep in mind that contact cements are only suitable for use with paper/wood backed veneers. There has been a lot of debate over this and it's one of the most common emails I receive. Check out this link.

Veneer Glue Comparison:

Glue Pro's Con's Comments
Better Bond™
X-Press Veneer Glue

- Fast drying (1 hour)
- Easy to work with
- No mixing required
- Inexpensive
- Cures to a hard film
- Penetrating bond
- Available in several tones

- Will not withstand extended
   periods of moisture or heat
- Not suitable for use with
   shop-sawn veneer
I prefer this glue over the others. It consistently yields excellent results.

Powdered Resin (PPR) Glue

- Withstands heat/moisture
- Inexpensive
- Extremely durable
- Penetrating bond
- Cures to a very hard film
- Excellent for curved work
- Tinted to a wood tone
- Long open-time

- Requires mixing
- Short pot life once mixed
- Requires up to 6 hours of
- Contains chemicals that are    hazardous

This glue can be thermoset with the use of a heating blanket over the vacuum bag which makes the bond even stronger. Ideal for shop-sawn veneers.
Unibond 800

- Bonds to nearly everything
- Great for bent laminations
- Available in 3 tones

- Requires mixing
- Requires up to 6 hours of
- Contains chemicals that are    hazardous
- Emits formaldehyde gas when    curing

A superb adhesive that is used in many fine furniture and cabinet shops but is best for professional and industrial environments.

Heat Lock™
Iron-On Veneer

- Very easy to work with
- Dries with a rigid glue line
- Cleans up easily
- Penetrating bond
- Great for odd shaped
- Can be used to make
  custom edgebanding

- Expensive compared to regular   veneer glue
- Your spouse may not
  appreciate the clothes iron
being left in the workshop

This glue definitely has its uses. Makes veneering a curved drawer front a snap!

FSV Glue

- Bonds backed veneer
- Fast drying
- Stronger than contact
- Dries hard
- Penetrating bond
- No harmful fumes
- Non-flammable
- Allows slight re-positioning

- Expensive
- Hard to find
- Requires adequate pressure
via pinch roller or J-roller

Ideal for backed veneers. If you have a vacuum press, use cold press veneer glue instead.
Contact Cement

- Easy to find
- Relatively easy to use

- Highly Flammable
- Emits VOC's
- Does not allow repositioning
- Does not fully harden
- Works with backed veneer only
- Susceptible to water damage
- Requires adequate pressure
  via scraper tool

I simply won't use this type of adhesive in my shop because of the odor and toxicity.
Titan DX™ Water-Based
Contact Cement

- Non-flammable
- Low order
- No VOC's
- Easy clean up
- Water resistant
- Very high coverage ratio

- Does not allow repositioning
- Does not fully harden
- Works with backed veneer only
- Requires adequate pressure
  via scraper tool

For backed veneers, this is stuff is great. Look for ones that do no contain Neoprene.

Glue Terminology:

  • Clamp or Set Time - The amount of time the veneered panel will need to be pressed.
  • Flash Time - The amount of time you need to wait before setting the veneer onto the glued substrate. For standard cold press veneer glue, this term is not used because the veneer can be placed onto the panel immediately after the glue is applied.
  • Shelf Life - The length of time that a product can sit unused and unopened.
  • Open Time - The amount of time between when you apply the glue and when the material is placed in the press.
  • Cure Time - The amount of time that it takes for the glue to fully harden (usually out side of the press).
  • Pot Life - The length of time in which a glue can be used after it is mixed (PPR's are mixed with water. Unibond is mixed with its companion hardener).

Got a question about veneer glue?
Be sure to see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

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