Crossbanding concerns in veneer work

A description of crossbanding, and advice on veneering over a plywood substrate. June 20, 2001

What is cross banding, and why is it used? Is it always necessary to cross grain when applying sheet veneer to hardwood plywood? My plywood all comes with grain running lengthwise, which is the same way I want the veneer grain to run. Is that a problem?

Forum Responses
The grain in plywood runs in alternating directions and always in an odd number of plys so the sheet has stability from movement and shrinkage. If you are veneering over plywood and then using any kind of glossy finish, the grain from the plywood will telegraph (show) through the veneer you are applying. Plywood is not the best substrate to veneer over. If you have to, the veneer should be perpendicular to the substrate so the wood movement is not running in the same direction.

Crossbanding is a factor in the manufacture of plywood. Crossbanding does not play a part in the laying of sheet veneer in the same respect. You should always balance the back of any panel you have applied a sheet veneer to. If the substrate is MDF board, you should apply a sheet of veneer to the back (same with particleboard, etc.). Plywood is not the best substrate for sheet veneer, but if you must use plywood, use Birch plywood, but you will need to balance the back.

Locke Wilde, forum technical advisor