Veneering curves

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Established Member
17 Jan 2015
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Hi All,

Hoping for some advice about veneering.

I've done a lot of flat veneering - that is, putting veneer on flat surfaces, when you use the glue of your choice, then clamp it to the surface an Bob's your uncle.
I've also done some lightly curved iron-on veneering with titebond I - apply to both surfaces, wait to dry, then iron it on. Works a dream for small pieces, but I haven't had success with larger ones.

I am about to veneer an accordion body, which has got some curves. I've got some paper-backed walnut veneer - I hope that will work. If it doesn't, I might have some regular one too - need to check.
Rather than wrapping the whole box in veneer, I am taking a sensible approach of veneering in smaller strips - perhaps, ~40cm x10 cm max. Given that the surfaces are not flat and I can't clamp it on, what are my options?

I've heard people swear by "clamping" with cling film, but that seems a bit odd to me... Also useless for concave surfaces (that's yet to come). I am thinking more along the lines of firing up the hide glue pot, spreading the glue on both surfaces, then quickly sliding the veneer onto the box. But what's next? Iron it with a veneering iron? burnish with a dowel? Wrap with *ugh* cling film?

Tight corners are not a major concern, as I am going to inlay strips of ebony there - it's more about gluing the veneer strips onto a curved wooden base.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Last time I did it I used a large bag of dry sand. Laid the empty bag over the piece ensuring no folds, and shovelled in sand with a child’s plastic spade, starting from the middle and working outwards.
No compressor, so the vacuum bag option won't work.

Hammer veneering sounds like it might work but:
- The box frame is very tricky to clamp, and the ply is very thin, lightweight & flexible. So I can't put my body weight into it with a veneering hammer.
- A lot of excessive glue run-out will be very hard to clean up / might end up damaging gaskets. Most of the accordion bits are out of the box, but there's still some very hard to remove things in it.

I was thinking of doing the following:
- Run a wet sponge on the face of the veneer. Put hide glue on the veneer, then the box ply.
- Place the veneer on the ply, then fire up the veneering iron, and heat up a ~4" section of the veneer strip (this re-activates the glue), then "hammer"/burnish that section to squeeze out extra glue & air bubbles. Move on to the next 4" with some overlap.

Any reason this won't work?
Have you come across hot melt sheet glue? (Can't think of its proper name!) I used this extensively for a large tricky job. The glue comes on a roll with a barrier sheet. The procedure is to iron the glue down (through the barrier sheet) and then iron the veneer down. Where veneer is a bit wavy you can glue the veneer as well to make a double thickness. For concave surfaces it would be straightforward to use a hot air gun and a hardwood roller, I also used a hard rubber printer's roller. I have used traditional hide glue for veneering over many years. One of the methods for vennering shapes is to use cotton "sand bags" filled with silver sand, this is heated in an oven and then clamped with a board to force the bag to follow the shape. The bag is left in place until the bag cools.
You can veneer successfully with contact adhesive and since it is often pressure sensitive,a veneer hammer will be useful and doesn't need your entire body weight applied as the line of contact is so small.Just be very aware that contact adhesive doesn't like frost and you need to be absolutely certain that yours hasn't suffered from it.A small curved test piece shouldn't be too hard to organise.