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Veneer Application

Tools and Supplies Needed:
  • scraperA stiff scraper should be available at the start. Do not consider using J-Rollers or Hammer Blocks, even though you might use them on high pressure plastic type laminates.
  • contact cementMany contact cements work with Flexwood®  – but all work best if manufacturer’s instructions are followed!Both flammable and water-based are satisfactory. Roller or brush grades seem to work better than faster drying spray grades.
  • You should have a supply of bare, hardboard separator strips on hand.  These separators should be 1/8″ thick hardboard or equal, long enough and have enough of them to completely cover the contact cement. At the very least two separators, half the width of the substrate is required.  You will find by using many separator strips, approximately 6″ wide, it will be much easier to slip them or remove them as you make contact across the panel. Don’t attempt to lay Flexwood® without having all the contact cement surface  protect against “grabbing.”   Once contact cement surfaces grab, it will be too late to move the sheet.
Veneer and Substrate Preparation:

The big thing here to decide is if the substate requires two coats, so remember:

  1. All open, hungry surfaces like lauan, or oak plywood will require two coats of contact cement. Even some particle board needs two coats.
  2. Tight faced surfaces like Hardboard or MDF may allow for only one coat

To ensure success, be generous with the contact cement. Use two coats and try to apply it as smooth as possible.

coating surfaceCoat both surfaces.  If you spray apply the contact cement, do not apply dry, scant, open web pattern.  Lay on 100% so no voids are left. Be sure to start the clock.  Make certain you honor manufacturer’s instructions as to open time.


Some fluff and fullness is normal in flexible sheets of Flexwood®  as received. For best results when covering large panels with Flexwood, use the center-line method. Wood expands across its grain in the presence of humidity.

Unmounted sheets of Flexwood left lying about the shop may take moisture making application difficult. Tight grain species, such as Maple, will require close attention for this reason.

Veneer Application (be cautious here):

Never start an attachment along one edge of a wide panel.

  1. Make initial contact down the centerline. 
  2. Grasp the “east” flap.
  3. Pull it taut. Stretch it so as to remove the fullness and fluff.
  4. lower the tightly stretched flap as an assistance moves the seperator strip away from the centerline.
  5. Using the Flexwood tool only (no fingers or palms) scrape hard to tightly join the two glue lines. Repeat until all the seperators have been removed beneath the “east” half. Repeat for the “west” half of the sheet.
  6. Rescrape the entire area, or pass through a powered pinch roller press.
  7. Use your body weight and both hands.
Inspection and Finishing:

Ridges: This type of failure occurs when the contact cement is rushed and the two surfaces have been put together too early. The contact cement is still damp and allows the veneer to expand across the grain to form ridges in the grain direction and generally all across the face. Allow more time for the contact cement to dry. Check for rubbery “legs” if Flexwood must be peeled off. This indicates cement was too damp when surfaces were put together.

Bubbles: This type of failure results from using hammer blocks and/or palms and fingers. Use scraper tool to make initial scraping even if the panels are to be put through a pinch roller. High humidity will cause poorly bonded wood to expand. The force expansion occurs in the weakest bonded areas and bubbles pop-up. If you cut into a bubble you will find the contact cement is not holding the two surfaces together. If bubbles won’t stay down, not enough cement was applied in the first place.

ironHelpful Hint 1: The use of a warm iron (set between wood and cotton) may reactive the cement and put bubbles down tight if enough contact cement was supplied in the first place. If cement is too scant bubbles will pop back up.

Helpful Hint 2: When you put the iron down on the veneer be sure to use a piece of grocery bag type Kraft paper to keep face clean. Keep the iron in motion. Never keep it in one place or  you can soften the factory adhesive and cause veneers to loosen from backer sheet.  If veneer should come loose under heat then reheated and scrape hard until area cools down again.

Helpful Hint 3: The wood veneers used to make Flexwood® are  very thin.  Only 1/85″ of wood stands between you and sanding through.  Don’t try to use any grit coarser than 150 and NEVER use it on a sand block. Use your hands on only one thickness of sandpaper so your fingertips can “read” the surface.  It’s always easier not to sand through than it is to repair a blemish.  If the surface is satisfactory you are ready to finish using any conventional system. Water based finishes must be tested before using to determine their suitability for use on Flexwood®. Remember water will act to expand wood. Weak and/or poorly executed contact cement glue lines may fail to hold Flexwood® in such cases. Test for results before using water based finishes.