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How to Veneer a Cabinet

by Greg Keefer

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If you're a creative homeowner, use veneer to create a unique and interesting pattern on your cabinets. To achieve a unique look, cut out simple or elaborate designs in wood veneer sheets, and apply them on your cabinet faces. Designing your own patterns or using ready-made wood veneer can be a touch-and-go process. Because the sheets of wood are only 1/64" to 1/32" thick, veneer is a delicate material. If you decide to tackle tihe project, allow adequate time.

Veneering a Cabinet Surface

You need a marking gauge, utility knife or scissors, toothed plane, veneer hammer, clamps, and a veneer saw. Have white carpenter's glue on hand that requires a 24-hour drying period. The glue won't stain, is easily cleaned up, allows for last minute adjustments, and virtually disappears once it's dried.

  1. Sand the cabinet: Use an orbital sander to eliminate raised areas and knots. You need a perfectly even surface for proper bonding with the veneer.
  2. Plane the wood: A toothed plane creates tiny grooves in the wood to facilitate excellent bonding.
  3. Cut the veneer to size: Create designs, angles, and patterns. Or, apply a large sheet to the cabinet door, frame, or other section.
  4. Apply the glue: Make sure it spreads to the edges and throughout the center of the section of veneer.
  5. Lay the veneer, and clamp it: Tightly press sheets or cut pieces of veneer using metal clamps and pieces of wood larger than the section of veneer. This creates a tight bond. Use a veneer hammer in a zig zag motion to move excess glue.
  6. Apply a protective finish: Veneer is fragile. Apply a wood sealer, steel wool the surface, and apply shellac or furniture wax as directed on the container.

Veneer is a beautiful way to spruce up old cabinets, enrich a simple pine cabinet, or create eye-pleasing designs on cabinet doors or sides. Veneering a cabinet requires patience, but the results are worth it.

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About the Author

Greg Keefer has been a do-it-yourselfer with lots of experience in how to do things right and how to do them wrong. He enjoys sharing his experience with the hope of helping others to

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