Getting Started with Vacuum-Press Veneering

      Advice on starter equipment and learning resources for a veneering newbie. March 26, 2013

Question
I am a cabinet/furniture maker/finish carpenter (18 years) and have never done any veneer work (always use laid up sheet goods). I am very interested in learning more in depth methods of gluing, edgebanding, vacuum pressing, laminating, etc. Can't find any weekend type classes in the Bay area. Any books out there? Should I just get a vac bag and learn by doing?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor D:
I suggest you look at Darryl Keil's Vacupress for all you need. He sort of pioneered the process for woodworkers some years ago. He has two tapes (DVDs?) that will get you going in no time, with no sorting through the Internet flotsam. As you know, it is not rocket science, but his illustrations help you get up and pressing quickly, with success. Vacupress also has all the tools and glue you will ever need, and a forum for more advanced questions. I bought a bag, a vacuum pump, glue and a VCR tape, and it changed my life by allowing me to do veneer projects quickly and easily, without massive presses or equipment.



From contributor C:
Follow contributor D's advice. You will be rewarded for your efforts. Vacupress is a first class company! I am not financially affiliated with Vacupress. I am just a very happy customer. I have their 5x10 flip-top press, one of their pumps, both of the videos, and use some of their supplies. I have made money with their equipment.


From contributor A:
I can attest to Vacupress as a company as well. Daryl has gone to great lengths and has done a lot of the groundwork that has really helped others to get started in veneer work. There are not a lot of books with up to date information on veneering and vacuum pressing changed a lot of the way things are done. If you didn't have the opportunity to learn in a shop where someone was doing veneering, it was tough to get started. The videos really helped. I just did my first veneer wrap of a molding the other day and was surprised to see how well it worked. Without the videos I would have never thought of that.


From the original questioner:
I am very excited about starting. Is there a way to get started on a shoestring budget (classic champagne taste on a beer budget scenario)?


From contributor C:
What type of equipment to get started? It depends. That is like asking someone what type of woodworking equipment they should buy for their shop. Well, fortunately, I think the answer is simpler. But it still depends on what you want to make.

In my opinion, there are two basic pieces of equipment: the bag and the pump. Bags come in different sizes and shapes and can even be custom-made. Pumps can be powered by compressed air or electric.

Then, there are the tools that you need for cutting and assembling veneer. The Schurch videos go into a fair amount of detail on what works well. These tools can range from inexpensive veneer saws to expensive scroll saws. Again, it depends on the type of work you will be doing.

Get the videos. See what type of work interests you. Then you will have a better idea of what equipment you will need. When you are ready, talk to Vacupress on the phone and describe what you want to do. They will be honest with you. For example, you don't need a 5'x10' flip-top press if you will be working on 10"x12" marquetry panels.

Search out and read the information mentioned. Then, after you have some basic ideas of what might interest you, ask questions.

If you really, really can't wait to try out a vacuum bag, go to Walmart and buy a space bag (clothes storage). It uses a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out of the bag. They are made of cheap vinyl, so they will not last long at all. And they will not pull much of a vacuum. I have never tried to glue anything inside one of these. But it was fun to watch. Now my wife uses them for storing off season blankets and stuff.

Better yet, just go to spacebag.com and watch the video on their homepage. Then get the videos from Vacupress and watch a real woodworking vacuum bag.



From the original questioner:
Thanks. I will order the video from Vacupress. I am interested in doing curved work in a vac and also flat stuff as that is often what clients (designers) want. For example, curved reception desks. On a personal note, I am interested in single and double curvature for chair parts.


From contributor C:
Vacupress has three videos. You can order online, but I would suggest calling them first. Tell them what kind of work you want to do and be sure that what you want is on the video you order. You may need to get two of them.

I do remember curved work being on at least one of the two longer videos. Their website describes this, but you may want to get both of them as you are just starting. They are not that expensive, and certainly much less expensive than just guessing at what you are doing as a learning method.



From contributor R:
I'm another happy Keil customer, but for a low end budget, check out joewoodworker.com.


From contributor D:
If you live near a public library, request the DVDs. Most libraries are on reciprocal borrowing with every other library in the US. They can have them for you in a few days, free of charge, and you can borrow them for the usual 2 weeks and longer if you request. In the Internet age, one forgets what a fantastic resource our libraries are. What other profession has members that go to jail rather than disclose the borrowing habits of their patrons?


From contributor E:
Qualityvak offers a 2 hour instructional DVD free.

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