NEW! Faster Search Option

Loading

Applying wood veneer on top of Formica

CIF's picture

I wish to apply veneer to a table top that is currently covered with Formica.  The veneer is cherry.  The table top is 3' in diameter and has an MDF base.  The veneer was given to me, left over from a large project.  The table has been around for years and cost me nothing.  So I have no investment in this project.  This will be my first attempt to apply veneer, so I am looking at this as a learning experience.


I plan to add 3/4" pine to the perimeter of the underside of the table top so as to give the appearance of thickness.  I will recut the perimeter with my router and a jig, smoothing the added wood on the underside, reducing the diameter of the top just enough to get rid of the dings on the edges of the table top.  This will remove all the Formica currently on the edge of the table top.


My plan is to use a coarse grit of sandpaper to rough up the Formica, to give a good surface for the adhesive bonding.  My question is: What kind of adhesive should I use to bond wood veneer directly to Formica?


I don't think I should use epoxy, as I think the squeeze-out will result in areas that will appear different when finished.  Should I use Gorilla Glue, yellow or white glue, or what?  I do not have vacuum bag equipment.


I will appreciate any advice that may be given.  I can be reached at francisandco01@usadatanet.net.


Thank you.


 

Joe_Fusco's picture

(post #81392, reply #1 of 32)

Chaz,
The first thing that comes to mind is, is the Formica adhered well to the MDF (substrate) ? This is by far the most important aspect of this project. If it's adhered well then you can go ahead and try and deal with the next issue.

That would be the different expansion rates of the mica and veneer. This could eventually shrink or expand the veneer to a point where the glue bond could fail. Since I have no idea what the rates are I can't help with that.

Since you have no press of vacuum, I'd go with a contact cement since this will bond to both the mica and veneer.

Good Luck.



Construction Forums Online!

Jamie_Buxton's picture

(post #81392, reply #4 of 32)

If you must use contact cement to hold wood veneer, make yourself a test piece too.    Solvents in some finishes penetrate the veneer and destroy the bond.   As they say, DAMHIKT.

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #5 of 32)

Thank you for your reply.  There seems to be a general concensus that contact cement is the adhesive of choice.

Splintie's picture

(post #81392, reply #2 of 32)

Contact cement is the most forgiving of dissimilar rates of expansion, but i wonder why you would go to the trouble of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear by reworking this table top? For a few bucks, you could make one in less time than you'll spend reworking this one by taking the edge laminate off (with your router? you can kiss that bit goodbye...) and adding pine for thickness, etc. etc.


If you're intent on using this base, you can take the edge laminate off rather easily with a heat gun and a putty knife.

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #7 of 32)

Well, your description of "making a silk purse out of a sow's ear" is accurate.  The reason is that this will be the first time I have put down veneer.  I just want to gain some experience as inexpensively as possible before I tackle a job where I will have a lot of effort and expense invested and cannot afford to make a mistake.  I want to make my mistakes on the cheap.  Thanks for the reply. 

purtiebirds's picture

(post #81392, reply #3 of 32)

You mentioned 'coarse grit' sandpaper - do not overdo it!  About a 120 on an orbital sander would work best.  Go for a dull sheen finish over the entire surface.  Sounds like your structural redo on the edge is adequate.  Now, the nitty gritty - use a good quality contact cement.  Use a short nap, 1/4", roller cover on a sturdy paint frame.  Keep in mind that low cost roller covers will come apart about half way thru this job, therefore use a good quality roller cover even tho it will be discarded after one use.  Now, pour a small amount of the contact cement onto the surface(s) and firmly spread it out by rolloing, with-out over-lapping too much.  Roll it out to the thinnest possible on both surfaces to be joined.  Let these coats, one on each surface, dry about 15 minutes or until dry to the touch, or at least to a dull, dry looking surface.  (Time-to-dry depends on the humidity the project is being worked in.)  Now, apply a second coat on each surface.  Let dry to a dull, dry-looking sheen - about 15 minutes.  Cover the table surface (over the just dried surface) with a piece of cardboard, position the formica above the cardboard and lay it lightly in place.  The next step requires a second pair of helping hands - gently pull the cardboard out from under the formica allowing the formica to drop onto the table surface.  The cardboard will not want to budge at first so a gently side-to-side tugging motion will be required to start it moving out.  The second pair of hands will hold the formica close to the final dropped position as the cardboard is slid out from under the formica.  An alternative procedure would be to lay 4 dowel rods on the surace of the table, position the formica as desired, then pull the dowel rods out one at a time, allowing the formica to drop to the table's surface.  It is very crucial that no part of the two cement-coated surfaces touch in any way before desired placement because if contact is made you ain't going to remove it!  That is why it is called 'contact cement'!  After the barrier(s) are removed, and formica is on the table, use pressure to assure a good bond is achieved.  There are several ways to do this - use a four inch square of plywood and a rubber mallet and hammer every square inch of surface; or, use a short piece of large diameter PVC pipe and roll under hand pressure several times over every square inch of surface, and a last, but not least, choice is to use a balled fist and pound every square inch with the edge of your fist.  Over the years, I have used variations of these methods to replace, cover, and/or repair, table tops and counter tops.  PLEASE NOTE; CONTACT CEMENT IS VERY FLAMMABLE - DO NOT USE IT IN AN ENCLOSED SPACE OR NEAR A FLAME SOURCE!

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #6 of 32)

Thank you for your very detailed reply.  Your instructions refer to the material being laid down as Formica.  I will be laying wood veneer on to a Formica surface.  I assume there would be no changes in your suggested method or materials.  I have laid Formica on to MDF before, but have never been happy with contact cement, but I have only used it from spray cans.  It always lays down in strings.  So I really appreciate the advice about using it from a can and rolling it on.


Thank you once again.

JOSEPH2238's picture

(post #81392, reply #8 of 32)

Chaz,


Why not flip the top over and put the veneer on the under side?


 


 


Joe Phillips


Plastics pay the bills, Woodworking keeps me sane!

Joe Phillips

Plastics pay the bills, Woodworking keeps me sane!

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #9 of 32)

Great idea.  Thanks for the reply.

LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #10 of 32)

I've been watching this thread with growing horror.

Chaz, you say you want to learn about veneering. So far you're starting with the least appropriate substrate I could think of and you're using an adhesive that is completely innappropriate for wood veneer. You have almost assured yourself complete failure. Are you sure this is how you want to learn about veneering?

I'd suggest you start with a suitable substrate the least of which would be a nice fresh and clean hunk of particleboard. Better would be a void free plywood such as Applyply or Baltic Birch but I'll assume you'll want the cheaper alternative.

Don't use contact cement. Contact cement and wood veneer don't work, unless you call a few years at best "working".

Use PVA and an iron with heat or better yet use hide glue with an iron and water. Hide glue is the best way to do hammer veneering so I'd suggest the hide glue. Since you don't have a press hammer veneering is the way to learn.

Now, would you choose to learn about auto mechanics with a pair of pliers and a rusty 57 Rambler? Of course not. Learning how NOT to do things is the most difficult way to learn how it's done.

Lee

Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #11 of 32)

Thank you very much for your reply.  Your points are well taken.  I see that I have not only a lot to learn about veneering, I have a lot to learn about this forumn and the "free" advice it generates.  I do not know who is correct, so I think I will have to do much more research before getting into the shop.


Again, thank you. 

SgianDubh's picture

(post #81392, reply #12 of 32)

Lee is pointing you in the right direction. Contact cement and wood veneer on top of sanded down plastic laminate is likely to be a less than ideal move. Slainte.

eddiefromAustralia's picture

(post #81392, reply #13 of 32)

Trust Sgian/RJ and Lee.


Here's three good reasons why:


www.furniturecarver.com, r-gjones.laof.home.att.net, Lee's professional advice


I'll defer to their experience.


Cheers, eddie


edit - added a third link


Edited 12/26/2002 11:52:23 PM ET by eddie (aust)

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #15 of 32)

Thanks for the reply.

Marcello's picture

(post #81392, reply #14 of 32)

I just opened up this thread and was scrolling down through the messages and was somewhat appalled, in my limited knowledge, that no one caught the PVA concept.  What I understand is that you can use contact cement on wood veneer provided the veneer has paper backing.  If it doesn't, you better use PVA.  Using it over Formica...that is a different story.  I don't believe, no matter how much scarifying you do the surface, that the glue will hold over time.  Formica as a substrate? I don't think so.  Thanks for pointing that out.


Someone mentioned turning the table upside down and using the unused side for veneering.  That may be the way to go if Chaz is adamant about using the table for this purpose.  Note that wood veneer works differently than Formica veneer.  Chaz will need lots of veneer tape and clamping pressure evenly distributed throughout the table top with the appropriate shaped cauls.  I suggest him to get a veneering book which will show and instruct him on the correct way of applying veneer.


Edited 12/27/2002 12:02:35 PM ET by TMARCELLO

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #16 of 32)

Thank you for your reply.  I just checked out Eddie's links.  30 seconds working time for hide glue??  I think I can place the veneer in 30 seconds, but I don't think I can put the glue down in that amount of time.  I will get a good book on veneering.  Any suggestions?

LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #17 of 32)

I guess I need a new editor, Chaz. You misunderstood my reply to the veneer question in the Woodworker's Journal E-zine. Please reread it because the thirtysecond was referring to the thickness of the veneer and the need for a rigid tool such as a veneer hammer or such, not any timeline. Actually, hide glue can be reworked anytime, even years later, if it needs it. As long as there is still glue the hide glue will soften and rebond in the presence of heat and moisture. This makes it my first choice for veneering, even the veneering I do in a press. PVA (yellow glue) on the other hand does not rework well and if you miss your first chance at sticking the veneer down the chance of failure is largely increased.

TMARCELLO, I do not reccommend contact cement for any wood veneer application. I have seen so very many failures with contact cement. I know the industry is trying to develop a contact that will work and these developers will be the first to tell you they already have one but I haven't seen it yet. They need an adhesive that goes on completely smooth, sticks well on contact, then polymerizes to a rigid glue with an interlocked bond and ends up with a very thin layer of glue. Current day versions are too thick, too soft and too vulnerable in all three bonds which are to the veneer, the substrate and to itself.

If a person is doing kitchens that get torn out every decade contact cement might be worth the risk although the failure rate is still high. The shops I know that do a fair amount of veneering have all invested in a press expressly to avoid the problems associated with contact cement. If a person is building furniture or cabinetry that is supposed to be around for decades contact cement has no place.

Lee


Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver


Edited 12/27/2002 11:46:24 AM ET by LeeGrindinger


Edited 12/27/2002 11:50:26 AM ET by LeeGrindinger

Marcello's picture

(post #81392, reply #19 of 32)

Lee,


I have never used contact cement since I have only worked with unbacked veneer.  Thanks for pointing that out to me.  I know some professional cabinet makers who use contact cement on a regular basis for laminating veneer.  Is there something wrong with that picture?  Through work we will be commissioning a local cabinet maker to build a conference table.  It will have lots of veneering on it, different sizes, patterns, and types.  The finish will be a conversion varnish.  I know they will be using contact cement on paper backed veneer.  Should we be worried?


Marcello

LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #20 of 32)

The membrane backing is used for two reasons. The first is so they can slice veneers as thin as they do and still have a workable product and the second is to stop bleed through from whatever glue is used. The membrane backed veneers come in thickness of 10 to 20 mils. That's .010" to .020"

Yeah, there's something wrong with the picture. Contact cement fails. Contact cement does not provide a rigid glue line and the movement that this flexible glue allows also spells failure. Let's assume a good initial stick. As the veneer and substrate move independantly over time the layer of contact cement is stretched and compressed. Eventually, even considering a good initial stick, the movement will cause the contact to give. The problem with these very thin veneers is that even the slightest failure will manifest and compound itself. A failure under plastic laminate is much less critical because the sheet of laminate still keeps it's integrity. 20 mil veneers don't.

If you commission a veneered table assembled with contact cement you are buying a throw-away table. Perhaps it will last a year (I'd assume a year's warranty from the shop), perhaps five years, perhaps ten. I don't know how much you're paying for this table and without that information I'll not say the shop is at fault but I will tell you this...There is no cheaper way to veneer a surface than to use membrane backed veneers and contact cement. I'd suggest you look into better quality just so you can make an enlightened decision.

Just to contrast, I generally use veneers between 1/16" and 1/20". A sixteenth of an inch is 62.5 mils, between 3 and 6 times thicker than membrane backed veneers.

A press for doing this work is available for around a thousand bucks. I'm surprised a professional shop has not made that investment and I would suggest you broaden your list of shops to include one that will either press the top to laminate it or hammer veneer it using appropriate glues. Appropriate glues are PVA, plastic resin, urea, hide glue (either liquid or hot) epoxy, other resin glues.

Lee

Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver

LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #21 of 32)

One other thought...

Would you ever consider doing edge to edge glue-ups (such as a table top) with contact cement?

Why not?

Why would you consider veneering to be anything but a wood to wood glue-up?

Lee

Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver

Marcello's picture

(post #81392, reply #22 of 32)

Lee,


Your last thought brought the point home.  We have not commissioned the table yet and have not written any specifications for it, but I will.  Thanks.


Marcello

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #23 of 32)

I stand corrected.  You do not need a new editor.  You were emphasizing hide glue.  In the links provided by Eddie, Mike Dresdner indicated that for large surfaces resorcinol would be needed in order to give a longer working time.  I carried that thought through to your comments.


Thanks very much for taking the time to help me out.

Marcello's picture

(post #81392, reply #18 of 32)

The only one I can think of is "Veneering: A Complete Course" by Ian Hosler.  It is available thru Amazon.com

CIF's picture

(post #81392, reply #24 of 32)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO ALL:


The veneer I have is cherry, 0.024 inches thick, unbacked.

Splintie's picture

(post #81392, reply #25 of 32)

I've been trying to get all worked up about whether contact cement is the industry-approved standard for old plastic table tops. I have a picture in my head of woodgrain laminate boards being glued edge-to-edge with hide glue (what's the cure time on that, i wonder?) and then covered in cherry veneer.


What would Pollaro do? 

LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #26 of 32)

Hide glue is "cured" in 24 hours.

What would Frank Pollaro do?

Here's his e-mail. Ask him yourself. frank@pollaro.com

Lee

Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver

Marcello's picture

(post #81392, reply #27 of 32)

Lee,


Just browsed through your home page, beautiful work.  On my birthday a few years back, I got wood carving chisels and a how-to book.  I began right away playing with some scraps of wood I had and had a hell of a time.  The tips of these chisels kept breaking off and one by one they became useless.  The good thing is it got me started on the WW, now I can't stop.  I am still not sure what a good set of carving chisels looks like?  could you point me in the right direction?  BTW, you don't live too far from Splintie.  I am currently in Kalispell, waiting for more snow.


Marcello

SgianDubh's picture

(post #81392, reply #28 of 32)

Apart from agreeing with Lee regarding the general thrust of his advice, if a 'silk purse must be made out of a pigs ear' so to speak, ha, ha, consider simply removing the plastic laminate and getting down to the original groundwork. It certainly might be just as simple (and cheap) to start with a  flat piece of MDF.


If it's attached with contact cement, it'll lift off easily. Pry up a corner with a putty knife, and slosh in some lacquer thinner. If after a minute or two the laminate can easily be pried up a bit more, the glue used was contact cement, and you can keep prying and sloshing lacquer thinner in until the whole piece lifts off.


Contact cement is definitely not the glue of choice for a long lasting job under any form of veneer. For commercial cabinetry under paper backed veneer it's often a viable choice. Commercial cabinetry is generally  expected to be ripped out and replaced within 5- 10 years.


You're working with a single sheet of true veneer Chaz, and once I'd ripped off the Formica and cleaned up the ground thoroughly, I'd apply the veneer with any one of hide glue (first choice)  PVA or urea formaldehide (equal second choice) and one or two others. Each glue has their advantages and disadvantages, and each one has a different method of being worked.


Don't forget that to prevent the top cupping, you really need to apply veneer to both sides. The hidden or underside can be veneered with a cheaper 'balancing' veneer of any species. I'd suggest at least getting a book on the topic and boning up on it a bit. I can't recommend one because I haven't read a woodworking book of any sort in years. Slainte.


LeeGrinding1's picture

(post #81392, reply #29 of 32)

Thanks Marcello, it's always nice to hear.

I started a webpage to answer questions just like yours. Unfortunately, this making-a-living stuff interferes with the progress and so far it is just a discussion about chisels.

A Guide for the Novice on Carving

At the bottom of this page is a starter set of carving tools. I'm a firm believer in starter sets. I'm hoping that I can get the next chapter done soon, it will discuss sharpening which seems to be the biggest bugaboo for learning to carve. After that I hope to get into techniques.

Timothy Effrem, owner of Woodcarver's Supply sells Lamp brand chisels. I've got quite a few of these and feel that Lamp tools are as good as any tool out there. Woodcarver's Supply also sells sets that you can add to without duplicating tools.

I have somewhere between seventyfive and a hundred tools (I haven't taken a census in a while), many of which are specialty tools that only hit the bench for certain tasks. The set I describe on the webpage can get you through a lot of larger patterns.

Like Sgian, I don't read books on this stuff unless I'm asked to review them so I really can't suggest a book other than "Manual of Traditional Woodcarving" by Haslick. The first 50 pages of the book are invaluable, the rest are patterns. It has a good discussion on the whys and wherefores of sharpening, something surprisingly few really understand.

Lee


Lee Grindinger

Furniture Carver

Splintie's picture

(post #81392, reply #30 of 32)

That was more along the lines of a rhetorical question, and may have contained a bit of veiled hyperbole as well, Lee. Where's your sense o' yuma?