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How to Apply Wood Veneers

Van Dykes sells four types of veneers:

  • Paperback veneer is very strong, durable, split resistant, and readily adheres to most smooth, clean, dry, hard surfaces.
  • Paperback PSA (Pressure Sensitive Adhesive) has all the features of a regular veneer with the added convenience of simple peel and stick attachment. Sticks best to lacquered, varnished, or enameled topcoat surfaces.
  • Wood on Wood veneer is a thick all wood veneer. It is ideal for replacement on antiques or new construction.
  • Wood on Wood PSA (Pressure Sensitive Adhesive) has all the features of wood on wood veneer with the added convenience of simple peel and stick attachment. Simply cut the veneer to size and press into place.
Final Installed Veneer

Types of Veneer


When you receive your veneer, you must let it acclimate to the environment prior to use. First, remove the veneer from the packaging and lay it flat for a minimum or 48 hours up to several days. You may need to clamp or put weight on the ends to hold the veneer flat. Best temperature is between 55 and 85 degrees F. It is also important to let your substrate material acclimate at the same time.


There are a number of acceptable methods for applying veneer and while most woodworkers have their favorites, there is probably no one method that is the best choice for all situations.




Application using contact cement is perhaps the most common method and one most beginners try first. Contact cement bonds the veneer to the surface of the substrate on contact. Applying veneer with contact cement is a fast, inexpensive method that will yield good results. When done correctly the contact cement method is actually one of the easiest veneering methods. The use of a long-handled scraper is the oldest method of applying wood veneer to a substrate. The scraper is used to smooth out the veneer on the substrate, and to squeegee out excess amounts of the heat-activated glue used in the process. Because the glue is thermo-activated, it can be revived with a hot iron after it has set to work out any bubbles found between the veneer and the substrate.

  1. Apply the cement to the veneer and substrate following the manufacturer's instructions and allow to set.
  2. Align the two elements. This must be right the first time as you will not be able to slide the pieces once they have touched.
  3. Using maximum pressure, roll the veneer smooth by starting in the center and working out toward the edges using a veneer roller.
  4. Still using maximum pressure, smooth the surface with a smoothing blade/scraper.
  5. Now, turn your piece upside down and use a razor knife to trim the excess veneer using the edges of the substrate as your guide.
  6. Allow piece to cure.

This method is also used for applying veneer with a peel and stick glued back.


Veneering can also been done using a mechanical or hydraulic press or a vacuum press. We will not cover them in this How To as woodworkers using these tools are generally experienced in their usage.