How to Glue Wood Veneer


Glue-down wood veneer is a thin layer of hardwood pressed flat and attached to a paper backing that can be affixed to solid or manufactured wood surfaces to give the appearance of hardwood. Veneer in commercial production shops is typically glued down using a vacuum system which costs several thousand dollars and is unnecessary for do-it-yourselfers. There are two manual methods for gluing down veneer, depending on the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Woodglue
  • Plywood
  • Weights
  • C-clamps
  • Contact cement
  • Roller
  • Heat gun
  • J roller or rolling pin

Wood Glue Method

  • Sand the surface the veneer will be attached to with 120 grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust from the surface with a tack cloth to allow for good adhesion.

  • Mark and cut the veneer to the same shape as the face it will be applied to and ½ inch larger than the face on all sides to allow for easy placement. Use a utility knife to cut the veneer. A metal straight edge works well for cutting straight lines.

  • Apply a coat of wood glue to the surface the veneer is being attached to. Use a paintbrush to apply the glue evenly to the face. Allow this to sit for ten to 12 minutes to allow the glue to become tacky.

  • Position the veneer on top of the glued surface, grain side up, with the edges hanging off evenly. Place a piece of plywood large enough to cover the face of the veneer on top of the veneer and weigh it down with bricks or buckets of sand. Smaller pieces can be clamped in place with a C-clamp. Allow this to sit overnight.

  • Trim the edges of the veneer with a utility knife. Press down through the veneer against the edge of the face you attached to. Sand the edges to smooth them out.

Contact Cement Method

  • Sand the face as for the wood glue method. Place the veneer on a sturdy level surface. Roll on a coat of contact cement to the back of the veneer. Use a medium nap roller for best results. Apply the adhesive evenly and work to avoid runs and drips.

  • Roll a coat of contact cement onto the face that the veneer will attach to. Apply it with the same technique used for the veneer. Allow both pieces to dry thoroughly. Adding heat from a commercial heat gun or space heater will speed the process.

  • Position the veneer over the face it will be attached to, glue side down, and carefully align the edges before placing it on the face. Press the veneer firmly to the face so that both layers of contact cement adhere to each other.

  • Press the veneer flat with a J roller or rolling pin to ensure that all air bubbles have escaped. Work over the entire surface to press it down. Trim the edge of the veneer as for the wood glue method.

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  • Photo Credit wood texture image by Aleksey Bakaleev from
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