Veneer Tape Tips and Tricks

Advice on selection and use of veneer tape. March 31, 2008

I just read a post somewhere recommending using distilled water with veneer tape. Using tap water might cause ghosting when the tape is removed. I don't do a lot of veneering, but I did use tap water with the tape on a current project. Appreciate comments before I go any further. I am a one man pro shop, so lost time is costly.

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor E:
The distilled water is a precaution. Some veneers, mainly maples and other lighter colors, may discolor from any mineral content in the water. Showing where the tape was usually only after finishing. So I use only distilled water, now. Got away with it for years. If you do much veneer seam taping, a tape dispenser is a much needed option. Work goes much faster with it.

From contributor W:
Where do you get your veneer tape dispenser from, and how much do they run? All I've been able to find are outrageously expensive.

From contributor E:
The dispenser I use came from Vacuum Pressing Systems. It's a desktop model and holds 2 rolls of tape. I got mine a few years back when I had a veneer job to lay up 2,000 ft of veneer. Paid for itself on that job.

Yes, they're expensive. I think mine was $135, but if you do more than a few feet of veneering a week, they pay for themselves pretty quickly. Another advantage is, the tape comes off the dispenser with the correct amount of wetness. Once you use it, you'll forget about the cost and wonder why it took you so long before you purchased one.

From contributor T:
I have been using cellophane tape - Scotch tape - with excellent results. 3M brand seems to be my favorite. Cheaper brands don't stick well. Run a veneer roller firmly over the seam to make it stick tightly. Put it in the press right away. Sometimes I add a few strips across the seam just for good measure. It will lift some wood when removed but it is a miniscule amount, virtually invisible when done. My press maxes out at 22Hg.

From contributor R:
With regard to the ghosting that you see when you remove the tape, it has nothing to do with the water. Obviously if you have brown water coming out of your tap, then you may have problems. What you have is the glue residue from the tape that remains after it has been removed with a wet rag. When taping veneer, and boy have I taped miles of it, your safest bet is to wet the tape just enough to activate the glue. After pressing, you can either sand it off or remove it with a wet rag and putty knife. Now don't saturate the panel, because all you'll wind up doing is impregnating more glue into your grain. The rag or sponge or whatever you choose to use should be damp, not saturated. Rub the tape until it becomes transparent and carefully scrape it off with a putty knife. Let your panel dry and then give it a good sand. I think you'll have pretty good success. Also allow your panel to sit at least 24 hours before introducing any moisture. This gives the glue ample time to cure and minimizes any chance of a de-lam between your substrate and veneer.

From contributor D:
I don't know if anyone has tried this, but I picked up an old butcher's tape machine off eBay that has worked well for me. It feeds the tape through water in lengths from 3 to 6 inches long. You just push down the lever and out comes the wetted tape. It works on all but the really thin perforated tapes. Saves a bunch of time and is around $30 for a good used one on eBay.