Getting great joints in veneer

A discussion of techniques for getting tight joints in veneered work. June 14, 2000

How do you folks make long, straight seams in veneer? I'm often jointing several pieces to make a large surface and I always have trouble with this.

We can't afford (or fit) a stitching machine.

Your trouble can be a result of improper jointing of the veneer, how you're taping the joints, or both.

When you tape your face together, be sure to first place veneer tape perpendicular to the joint about every 6 to 8 inches. Generally this tape is only about 3 inches long. Then run your veneer tape in line with the joint. You will find this results in tighter joints. This assumes that your veneer is jointed properly to begin with.

Seams in any type of veneer can be a pain. I assume you are speaking of seaming raw flitch veneer.

The straightness of the two edges you are gluing is most important. This is where most problems start. Cutting both edges straight can be tough. When at all possible, try to cut the two edges that are to be seamed at the same time.

Veneer tape is your best bet, along with a good adhesive. Custom-Pac Adhesives can help you with both of these products.
Locke Wilde, forum moderator

Absolutely true, regarding the problem and difficulty of mastering the technique. Sure, many of us do it despite the large labor cost and disappointments. You'd think that by now that a hand-operated seam slicer (not a trimmer) for smaller shops would have been developed.

I overlap the two adjoining sheets slightly and, using a utility knife, cut through both, free-hand, following the grain where possible. This aids in hiding the seam. Angle one sheet slightly to the other while applying the tape across the joint. This will actually pull both sheets together at the seam when the sheets are flat again. Then follow-up with tape along the seam. A lot of work, but some of your best logs end up in veneer.

This is a great method, but beware: any time you cut veneer from the face with a utility knife you take the chance of leaving a slight V groove that can show up where it is not wanted. For best results and no V groove, always cut from the back side, then when you press or scrape down your veneer the seam will be flat, and no V groove.

By the way, there is a small seaming tool on the market which I have seen used very successfully by many shops. It is made by Beaver Tools. Beaver Tools can be found here on WOODWEB.

Cutting long seams in veneer is simple if you build a jig for your table saw.

The jig needs to have a long bed (longer than your veneer) and a bar that is parallel to the bed above it. To this bar, which can be made of wood, I attach a row of sliding pneumatic clamps which can be positioned anywhere on the length of the upper bar, via a sliding dovetail slot. The wood can then be "clamped" while you are running it past the saw blade.

The whole carriage slides in the groove for the miter gauge on the saw and an 80-tooth ATB, negative-rake blade is used for cutting.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
If you are trying to do professional veneer joints without a major equipment purchase you have two approaches. You can clamp your veneer between one of the variations of shooting boards. Then trim off the excess with a router, knife, or sander. Or you can use a tablesaw mounted trimming jig like the Miracle Veneer Trimmer.