|Solid Wood or Veneer?|
- Cabinet-grade plywood is readily available at the big box stores. It may already have a paper-thin veneer of oak or birch on it, so I just glue my veneer over it.
- Plywood is less susceptible to issues of wood movement due to humidity fluctuations. This simplifies the design and construction.
- Veneer is significantly less expensive than solid wood as it should be; you are only getting a fraction of the wood. Higher quality veneer is around 1/40" thick. This may sound like it could be easily damaged, but its pretty resilient when glued to plywood. I wouldn't recommend abusive applications like stair treads, but book shelves, cabinets, and many table designs could easily use veneer.
- Some awesome veneer is available on the internet. I've been buying veneer from Certainlywood for years.
Tape holds the veneer strips together when gluing. First I use blue painters tape to temporarily hold the pieces, then I turn the veneer over apply veneer tape to hold the pieces during the gluing operation.
The veneer tape is the white strip with holes in the picture on the right. It has an adhesive backing that is activated with water like a postage stamp (used to be). Because the tape is so thin, its outline won't be pressed into the veneer. When the tape dries, flip the veneer over again and remove the blue painters tape.
I use Titebond II glue to bond the veneer to the plywood. I frequently stain the veneer using a water-base dye and before I started using Titebond II, I experienced some veneer delamination. Some woodworkers have raised concerns that it may setup too quickly, but I've never had a problem. I usually clamp it for an hour to assure a secure bond.
I'll talk about edge treatments in a later blog entry.