This is an easy way to veneer a surface without the expensive equipment typically used for such tasks. While I wouldn’t recommend this as a way to veneer a large surface or surfaces with curves, it is a fast way to cover a small surface with a very decorative veneer.
The first step is to have a thin veneer chosen for your project. I purchase my veneer from veneersupplies.com as they have a wide selection of quality veneer, supplies (it’s in their name), and a lot of information on veneering. The veneer is very thin measuring around 1/42″ thick. This is key to this process. Thicker shop sawn veneer will probably not work in this instance because of the thicker material.
With the veneer chosen it is time to pick a substrate. I like to use a stable plywood such as apple ply (made in the U.S. of A.) or baltic birch. Some people prefer MDF and even particle board as they are typically much more stable and free of voids. The project you have in mind to make and the final destination should be the key factors in choosing your substrate. If you are in a humid environment I would suggest plywood over MDF.
With your substrate and veneer chosen it is time to begin. Cut your veneer and substrate slightly oversized (with the veneer larger than the substrate) to allow for final trimming to dimension.
Now spray the show face of the veneer with water to add some moisture. Not too much, just enough to cover the surface. You will notice how the veneer starts to curl. This is normal so don’t be worried. Then flip it over and roll on some wood glue. I used TiteBond 1 wood glue but TiteBond 2 would work as well. Keep in mind that TiteBond 2 and 3 wood glues dry darker than TiteBond 1. Then roll the glue to a thin even layer on the surface of the veneer. The glue will add moisture to this face of the veneer and level it out. That is why you sprayed the show face with water first, to balance it out.
Now set the veneer aside and roll glue onto the surface of the substrate in the same manner. Once that is finished set it aside and let both surfaces dry until they are no longer sticky from wet glue. Don’t freak out, you haven’t ruined your material.
Once the glue is dry, place the two glue surfaces together and arrange the veneer so it overhangs the substrate on all sides. With an iron on the medium heat setting place it in the middle of the veneer and work it out to the edges and toward one end at a time. Keep the iron moving as not to burn the veneer. If you didn’t let the glue dry long enough you may see some steam and that can cause the veneer to ripple. If that happens, just take a sanding block with a hard flat surface and rub the veneer down to the surface. The glue will be reactivated and it will bond again. It doesn’t hurt to rub the surface with the sanding block after ironing while it is still warm anyhow.
Now repeat that process to the other side of the substrate to balance it out. If you don’t the substrate will warp as you are stacking veneer in favor of one face. When you are finished you should have two nice looking faces of your substrate ready for your next project.
Tools I used in this project (Affiliate Links):
Ink Brayer (glue roller) – http://amzn.to/2ejHUsQ
Iron – http://amzn.to/2fYvuXV
TiteBond Wood Glue – http://amzn.to/2eBEih3
TiteBond II Wood Glue – http://amzn.to/2fCiK4W
Sanding Block: http://amzn.to/2eBNq5b