Laying Up a Patterned Veneer

Detailed advice on laying up a veneered panel with a perimeter strip made of one veneer, and a center area made of another. June 28, 2006

I have a panel to lay up consisting of a 2" veneer on the front around the perimeter, mitered 45 at the corners, then another contrasting veneer in the center. My question is, how does this lay up proceed? If the veneer is pieced together ahead of time and taped, is it made the exact size and perfectly square so the mitered corners of the veneer match the corners of the panel?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor A:
If possible, make the border - sometimes called "cross banding" - wider than the two inches you want to net. Then you have two choices.
1: Glue your lay up to an oversized substrate and when it comes out of the press, trim it to get your desired border size using a sliding table or sled.
2: If your border is oversized enough you could make the substrate the same size as your veneer lay up and then if there was some slippage you could still trim it after pressing and get your desired border width.

Some added info you might find interesting - for years I would veneer panels with mitered crossbanding and then after pressing I would inlay a string inlay at the intersection of the border and center piece by routing a groove and mitering and gluing in the string inlay. Then I stumbled on the method of including the string inlay in the taped together lay up. In other words, I made the center piece, mitered string inlay around it and taped it together, and then mitered the crossbanding around the string inlay and taped it to the whole. This saved a lot of tedious work.

Anyway, to get back to your topic, I personally would not risk trying to make the lay up net size before pressing because I donít like to use brads in veneer faces to keep them from slipping and it would probably slip without brads.

From contributor B:
If you are vacuum pressing you can use Titebond cold press, veneer the entire panel in the center veneer, pull it from the press after about one hour (test beforehand to gauge glue setup) score the perimeter with a cutting gauge or veneer saw/straightedge and pull up the excess glue and veneer with a chisel. Then apply your precut crossbanding and return to the press for two to three hours. This is a modification of the process used in traditional hammer veneering and has worked well for me on drawer fronts and small table tops, never tried it on anything very large but if you have everything ready to go it should work just as well. They key with timing is to let the glue tack up enough that you are not going to pull the center veneer but you don't want it to be too difficult to scrape away the unwanted veneer and glue at the edges.

From contributor A:
I donít understand the advantage of that method. Why not cut a center veneer to size? Then, miter crossbanding to fit around it. Use veneer tape to fasten the crossbanding to the center veneer, and then just press it. All that scoring, veneer sawing and chiseling glue just seems like a lot of unnecessary work to me.
Please explain.

From contributor B:
The main advantage is that you are dealing at that point with the true size of the center veneer not with the theoretical size prior to pressing, it is quite possible that the center veneer will stretch just a little when it is pressed and cause a gap. Also, the edges are typically the most trouble-prone areas due to squeeze out slightly raising the veneer from the surface. This eliminates that as a concern with the center veneer piece (the edges are cut away). Finally, what happens if your veneer loses registration even slightly during pressing if it rotated even slightly none of the miters would line up. This method requires more work but guarantees a perfect fit.

The alternative is to build everything ahead of time using veneer tape and pins and laying up the entire veneer at one time. This works well and is slightly more efficient but as you inferred in your post the brad holes are a pain even as tiny as they are.