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How to Properly Press Veneer During Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Projects

by Greg Keefer

Cabinet manufacturers use a hydraulic press to apply veneers in a process far too expensive for the do-it-yourself cabinet worker. An alternative tool is the caul, a form of hand press, that performs much the same function.

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Here's how to reface your kitchen cabinets like a pro at a fraction of the cost:

  • Prepare the wood: Disassemble your cabinets, and clean and smooth the surfaces. Lightly scrape a small saw blade across the cabinets to help the glue bond with the veneer.
  • Join sheets of veneer: Use two boards clamped over a sheet of veneer while you plane the edges. Use paper tape to hold these edges together to create a single unit.
  • Over-cut the outside edges: Leave an extra half-inch of veneer on the outside edges. Mark this half-inch, and, then, use a sharp knife and metal straight edge to cut about an eighth of an inch off the outside edges.
  • Construct the caul:Use two three-quarter to one-inch thick boards with large C-clamps. The caul needs to be larger than the cabinet panels. Wax the inside surfaces of the caul, and use additional wax paper to separate the caul and the veneer.
  • Use kitchen cabinet refacing glue: White or plastic resin glue are ideal for this job. Evenly roll the glue onto the wood, not the veneer.
  • Put proper pressure on large cauls: C-clamps take care of the edges, but not the middle of large kitchen cabinet panels. Clamp slightly curved battens to keep pressure evenly distributed on the middle of the panel. Leave the clamps in place for several hours to let the glue dry.
  • Finish the job: Remove paper tape with water, trim the veneer, and lightly sand it. Apply the finish of your choice.

Kitchen cabinet refacing isn't difficult, but the time required, size of the materials, and use of a caul can make the project challengingfor the do-it-yourselfer.


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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