Finishing Carpathian Elm Veneer

      Troubleshooting finishing problems with elm veneer - March 17, 2000

by WOODWEB's Finishing Team:
John Buries and Bob Niemeyer

Q. I'm having difficulty finishing elm veneer. The finish often ends up crazed, or even cracked. Can you offer advice on proper finishing techniques?

A. John Buries responds: Carpathian veneer is notably a hard veneer to finish properly. When you are trying to achieve a full filled finish, packing the poor of the wood with a paste wood filler is almost a necessity. A gel stain has a thixatrope or false body that gives it a thick feel. It may appear as though the poor has been filled initially, but as the film dries it shrinks. It can take weeks for a film to totally cure. I will admit that allowing a film to cure for a month before rubbing certainly sounds sufficient, but the gel stain is the one constant you have in the three different finish systems.

Your description of the flawed film as being crazed or cracked is cause for concern. With no apparent problem with the veneer, there may be some incompatibility with your topcoats and the stain. Also check the compatibility of your rubbing procedure with the topcoats.

If you are concerned about stripping and re-sanding the surface, re-coating is your only option. Clean the surface properly to avoid fish eyes. I would recommend testing the re-coat procedure in an inconspicuous area if possible.

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