Cherry Veneer Desktop Construction

Thoughts on substrate and assembly details for a veneered desktop. October 15, 2009

I am working on a detailed cherry office and I need to make two of these cherry desktops with wood trim. What would be the best way to make these? Should I use veneer over MDF or just 3/4" cherry plywood and cut the angles? Also, if I were to make them out of one piece, would the grain look weird going the same direction?

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Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
I guess you are planning on multiple seams to get the grain the way it's drawn?

From contributor J:
I recently completed a home office with a similar desktop. There weren't a lot of cabinets below for support so I used a stress skin panel with a solid wood edging and veneer on top and bottom (total top thickness was 1 3/4"). Plenty strong and lightweight, as the room was on the second floor.

From contributor M:

It will look very weird if you make these out of single sheets with a single grain direction. I usually do this type of top using cherry veneer over a 3/4" substrate. I attach the solid wood front edging to the substrate before I glue down the veneer, and overlap onto the solid wood edging with the veneer so the glue joint to the substrate is hidden. I then let the shape I route onto the front edge trim the veneer as well. If you do it right, you cannot tell it's a veneered top.

From contributor P:
If you use plywood, get MDF core. Wood cores show too many ripples for my liking. Don't dismiss the thought of making a solid top. Veneer + substrate + labor gets expensive.

From contributor T:
I've built a couple much like what you show. We used 3/4" MDF core cherry veneer over 3/4" particleboard substrate. They turned out very nice looking and very sturdy.