Butt Seaming Veneer Panels

Advice on joining three 4x10 veneered wall panels together with a seamless and stable joint. January 12, 2012

We are getting ready to produce a project that has three areas of sequenced veneer panels that the owner wants butt seamed together over the top of drywall. There are 3- 4' wide x 10' high panels together in each area. The species is clear alder and the color is a medium brown. The substrate is 3/4" MDF. The drywall surfaces are surprisingly very flat.

The owner is adamant about not having reveals or any type of v-groove where the panels meet. I don't feel as if these panels are going to look that great, but I really must move forward and give it my most professional effort. I have already qualified my concerns with him in writing and he says he is okay with it.

What I am looking for is the best suggestion for hanging and seaming these panels together to minimize separation from movement and allow the most flexibility in the field.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor M:
I would join the panels with dowels or biscuits. Depending on the end use of the panels I would hang using cleats, z-clips or another hanging system that allows them to float.

From contributor J:
Get his okay in writing, with his signature at the bottom.

From contributor A:

I have done this in the past and I start by laying the panels side by side and, using a long straightedge, run a router down the edges to get rid of the factory edge and scribe the two together. I always used a spline cutter working off the face and 1/4 fir ACX plywood as the spline to join them together. It has to fit snug, but too tight and you will flair the face and sand through the veneer. Some time and a little care and you can make that joint very tight and almost invisible.

From contributor I:
I agree with the 3 responses. Make sure you can move/transport/egress a 10' x 12' panel (unless you're doing it on-site).

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the input! It sounds as if Z-clips to stick to the wall and biscuit or spline to keep the faces even. I was thinking I might ship-lap them and glue the joint together but you all have talked me out of it.