Applying Veneer to a Solid Wood Table Top

Veneer glued to solid wood is a less stable assembly than an MDF or plywood-core glue-up. But there are ways to make it work. November 19, 2005

I have five 30" diameter table tops made from three 10" x 6/4 solid Marante (Luan) boards edge-glued. The customer now wants them in birch or maple. Is veneering both sides an option?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor F:
Before stable sheet goods were available, craftsmen veneered over solid wood because it was all they had. Over time, the veneer will come loose and even crack because of the seasonal wood movement beneath the veneer. It can be done but a better table would be veneered on a stable substrate like MDF or plywood.

From contributor H:
I restore/repair furniture and I see veneer over solid core all the time. If it's stable it should work. I do find that 2 ply veneer seems to work best. Make sure to avoid the paperback veneer.

From contributor J:
Veneer over a solid lumber substrate stands the best chances if it is cross banded - one layer of veneer on each side of the core with grain running perpendicular to the grain of the core; then face veneered, both sides, grain parallel to the core grain. You'll recognize this as similar construction to plywood. It will greatly increase the stability and longevity of the piece vs. applying veneer directly to the core.

From contributor C:
When the customer asks us to do it, we veneer over glued up solid wood, but veneer as John states, perpendicular to the core, on both sides.

100 years ago the golden oak era was king, quartered white oak over chestnut solids as Frank states. Many people must do repairs usually because of misuse, neglect or combination of glue failure over time, and same grain direction failures.