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Thread: Does veneer softener work on thick veneer?

  1. #1
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    Does veneer softener work on thick veneer?

    I tried my hand at cutting some thick (1/8") veneer from birch crotch, about 8" x 6". After cutting, I stacked the slices with some paper towels, mdf panels and some weight for 3-4 weeks. They came out nice and flat. Being the first time working with thick veneer, I experimented a bit with one slice. I used a ROS with 120/180 to smooth cut marks from the bandsaw. Worked well but I think this generated a lot more heat than I expected and turned my test piece into a potato chip. Is there a way to sand these pieces without generating as much heat, or is this a normal expectation?

    Now I'm looking to flatten my test piece. Searched for Veneer Softener and found a strong recommendation for Super-Soft 2 on Joe Woodworker's site. There is a comment there that says softeners generally are less effective on thicker veneers. So, my question to those in the know is if veneer softeners can work on thick veneers, and if there are any special steps to soften thick veneer?

    Thanks for your help.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  2. #2
    It is a good product. All I can say is soak it well and see what happens.

  3. #3
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    I have used the Super-Soft on 1/16" veneer with good results. My advice would be to soak(spray wet) both sides and let it sit several minutes before pressing, as it takes a little while to be effective. Clamp between two platens and leave several days. Change the newsprint paper at least every day to draw out excess moisture. I personally would leave it clamped/ weighted flat till I was ready to use. If left out unclamped it will probably twist again, but can be resoftened.

    Good Luck! Tony
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.”
    Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
    Henry Ford

  4. #4
    1/8 th thick makes it a “facing” ,not veneer. If the product was intended for facings,I think the label would indicate that . A little water and
    a hot iron might fix it .

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    1/8 th thick makes it a “facing” ,not veneer. If the product was intended for facings,I think the label would indicate that . A little water and
    a hot iron might fix it .
    I've never heard anyone refer to an ⅛" outer layer of wood as anything but veneer. I think the veneer vs facing probably has more to do with construction and utilization rather than thickness.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Joyce View Post
    I have used the Super-Soft on 1/16" veneer with good results. My advice would be to soak(spray wet) both sides and let it sit several minutes before pressing, as it takes a little while to be effective. Clamp between two platens and leave several days. Change the newsprint paper at least every day to draw out excess moisture. I personally would leave it clamped/ weighted flat till I was ready to use. If left out unclamped it will probably twist again, but can be resoftened.

    Good Luck! Tony
    When Tony suggested "newsprint" it's best not to use newsprint that has been printed. The ink can come off on the veneer. Best to use unprinted paper.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    When Tony suggested "newsprint" it's best not to use newsprint that has been printed. The ink can come off on the veneer. Best to use unprinted paper.

    Mike
    Is newsprint a significantly better choice than paper towels ?
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny means View Post
    I've never heard anyone refer to an ⅛" outer layer of wood as anything but veneer. I think the veneer vs facing probably has more to do with construction and utilization rather than thickness.
    Have to admit that I don't know the difference between veneer and facing.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    When Tony suggested "newsprint" it's best not to use newsprint that has been printed. The ink can come off on the veneer. Best to use unprinted paper.

    Mike

    You are indeed correct. I've never used actual printed newspaper myself. Sometimes I take too much for granted, I should I have included that.

    Tony
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.”
    Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
    Henry Ford

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    Is newsprint a significantly better choice than paper towels ?

    Yes or a plain craft type paper(again no print). Unprinted newspaper is readily available in sheets or rolls of many sizes on Amazon. Sheets seem easier for me.
    Last edited by Tony Joyce; 04-22-2021 at 2:56 PM.
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.”
    Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
    Henry Ford

  11. #11
    I just looked it up, my post is correct. Long time ago cabinet makers used both ,I’m guessing it was a nice up-charge for the cabinetmaker
    and another “pride of ownership “ thing for the buyer to say “ we went for the FACING, it’s thicker than veneer ...even with the clear-coat”
    If facings are no longer sold by suppliers then that might be why we don’t hear about them. I think that you guys could probably make them
    and sell them. One-up-mon-ship is why people keep buying new kitchen cabinets, when none of the shelves have collapsed.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    I tried my hand at cutting some thick (1/8") veneer from birch crotch, about 8" x 6". After cutting, I stacked the slices with some paper towels, mdf panels and some weight for 3-4 weeks. They came out nice and flat. Being the first time working with thick veneer, I experimented a bit with one slice. I used a ROS with 120/180 to smooth cut marks from the bandsaw. Worked well but I think this generated a lot more heat than I expected and turned my test piece into a potato chip. Is there a way to sand these pieces without generating as much heat, or is this a normal expectation?

    Now I'm looking to flatten my test piece. Searched for Veneer Softener and found a strong recommendation for Super-Soft 2 on Joe Woodworker's site. There is a comment there that says softeners generally are less effective on thicker veneers. So, my question to those in the know is if veneer softeners can work on thick veneers, and if there are any special steps to soften thick veneer?

    Thanks for your help.
    What is your plan with this veneer? I assume you will be gluing it to a substrate, maybe using a vacuum press, maybe only using cauls.
    So this makes me whether the bandsaw marks need to be sanded at all.
    Unless they are really bad, my practice has been to go straight to glue up from the saw, taping and joining the veneer if needed first. Granted, I usually resaw my veneers with a high class Woodmaster CT carbide tipped bandsaw blade which leaves a pretty good surface. But even the surface I get from a pedestrian carbon steel blade would not give me pause in gluing up.

    The point being that face gluing veneer to a substrate is a large glue surface area in relative terms, and it shouldn't require a perfect smooth mating surface, so best to just glue up, and avoid the buckling in the first place. It also avoids buying yet another product that will take up more of your precious shop space. A product that I'm not convinced will do what you want anyway.

  13. #13
    I do a lot of thick veneer work. Hundreds of square feet at a time. Sometimes it cups and goes squirrely before it gets laid up. I see absolutely no reason why I need to flatten it to use it.

  14. #14
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    To answer your question, a random orbit sander with 120 grit is not the way to cut out saw marks. Too much heat as you found out and it will not produce a flat surface. Drum sander, flat belt sander, stroke sander and even a handheld belt sander are all better options. More importantly is that the wood is not nearly dry enough if it changed from sanding.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    What is your plan with this veneer? I assume you will be gluing it to a substrate, maybe using a vacuum press, maybe only using cauls.
    So this makes me whether the bandsaw marks need to be sanded at all.
    Unless they are really bad, my practice has been to go straight to glue up from the saw, taping and joining the veneer if needed first. Granted, I usually resaw my veneers with a high class Woodmaster CT carbide tipped bandsaw blade which leaves a pretty good surface. But even the surface I get from a pedestrian carbon steel blade would not give me pause in gluing up.

    The point being that face gluing veneer to a substrate is a large glue surface area in relative terms, and it shouldn't require a perfect smooth mating surface, so best to just glue up, and avoid the buckling in the first place. It also avoids buying yet another product that will take up more of your precious shop space. A product that I'm not convinced will do what you want anyway.
    Interesting. The cut is fairly smooth but II assumed a smoother surface would be needed for decent adhesion. These slices will be cut to shape and glued into a recess in a hardwood panel. Clamped with a caul of sorts, a block about the same shape.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

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