I had some sapele veneer in strips about 6 feet long 10" wide and also some oak burr veneer so decided to try flattening the veneer and veneering the top of the box. This is essentially a piece of 9mm MDF cut to the size of the rabbets I had cut in the box upper sections.
I enquired on Woodtalk Online forum if anybody had any recipes for a veneer softener as the commercial softeners are not available here in the UK. The commercial ones in use in the US are SuperSoft 2 Veneer Softener or the other one "Veneer Softener/Tamer". The mailing costs were prohibitively high or there were export restrictions.
A few of the good folks on WTO advised a few different recipes:
- water/mineral spirit/glycerine
- white glue/water.
I even emailed Joe Woodworker for his advice. Again it appeared that various concoctions of water with mineral spirits glue and glycerine were the way forward. I mulled the thoughts about it for a week or so and found I was getting nowhere. The wedding is only 6 weeks off so I decided to experiment.
Plain water as a "softener"I first started with water spritzing both sides of the veneer with water and laying it down on shop paper towels after wiping off the excess. I built up a layer of veneer/towels and then placed a 18mm piece of plywood on top. There was also a piece of ply on the bottom making up a sandwich. Onto this I place some heavy stage weights. I changed the towels after 12 hours and after 24 hours had a look. Wow!! absolutely flat veneers.
However I wasn't hanging around to wait for it to potato chip again so using some Titebond cold veneer adhesive I veneered a piece of MDF substrate for the top and left it to cure overnight. This morning -boom- dead flat veneered MDF and I couldn't see the join between any of the veneers.
One of the slightly alarming things I observed was when I applied the top veneer to the glue coated MDF. I then rolled it down with a veneer roller and then almost immediately the veneer started to curl across the grain. Essentially the glue hadn't started to grab at all. Maybe this is a feature of cold veneer glue. Anyway as soon as I put upper plastic coated platten in place and a few clamping cauls everything flattened out. Like Marc with the humidor project I clamped the hell out of the assembly. After curing as I said previously the end result is a perfectly flat piece of veneered MDF :) . I veneered both sides BTW and didn't notice any curl on the lower piece as I put the MDF straight onto it.
I left the veneer oversize to allow for shrinkage and will wait a while before I trim to size.
So panic over I have no need for a veneer softener for this project at least. If I have any bigger projects I shall certainly consider importing SuperSoft