We sometimes get asked about which glues should be used for our paperback veneers.  While there are many methods, and many glues, let’s review the two most common glue types for both hobbyists and professional woodworkers working without a press.

While we do discuss some layup techniques and pointers here, this article is chiefly written to help you decide which glues you should use based on your method of laying up, rather than going into too many details about the layup process.   After reading this in its entirety you may also decide on a particular layup method based on the glue you decide to use.   We hope you find this helpful!

The two most common glues:

  1. Wood Glue aka PVA; sometimes referred to as “white or yellow glue”
  2. Contact Cement

I. PVA Woodworkers Glue
1. Great article explaining PVA glue in detail
What is PVA glue?
2. Of the various PVA glues out there you cannot go wrong with Titebond.
They have an assortment of glues depending on your layup method, whether using a hot or cold press, vacuum bag, etc.   They are also quite available most anywhere in various sizes.   They can also be used for all your other woodworking projects so it’s a good all-around glue to keep on hand.

For those who use a vacuum bag without the need for waterproofing, Type I works well and is one of the most economical high-quality PVA glues around and can quite often be bought in bulk.  It can also be used for all your other woodworking projects.   According to the Titebond website they claim all three types have a 2 year minimum shelf life, if not longer.   Read about it here.

If you need any sort of waterproofing, then you’ll need the type II or II, BUT beware, those have a tendency to discolor the wood.   The glue will not bleed through the KamiPLY, but if you get any on the wood surface, even if you wipe it off quickly, it will discolor the wood, especially Koa.    

As for the WashiPLY product, it may bleed through if you use to much, so be sure to use very sparingly.

3. Apply as smoothly and evenly as possible with a roller or other preferred glue spreader. There are many options out there and will depend on how big of a surface area you need to coat.   Since most of our product comes in larger sheets, a larger surface area spreader will significantly reduce your spreading time.   But if you are only applying it to a smaller surface area after you have cut our sheets smaller sizes, even a small, stiff brush will work fine.

4. How much glue to use? Well, the simple answer, is:     But, no seriously, how much is enough?   Since it is difficult to explain, and there is no true correct answer as to the thickness to use, it’s best to watch some videos to see how much others are spreading over the surface.  We found a great video from another veneer supplier and have included the link below. 

Have a look and it will give you an idea how much glue to spread.  But remember, that will be most applicable for the glue he is using in that video, Titebond type II, which has a different viscosity of other PVA glues.  Like most other crafts, you’ll learn by doing and trial and error.   If you are new to all this, we do recommend practicing on smaller sheets before you start on your final product.

You might even want to buy some less expensive than our exotic Hawaiian veneer sheets to start you off on your paperback veneer journeys.   We found this supplier to have reasonable prices and a lot of great info and videos about using the various kinds of veneer products.

Wood Veneer Sheet Saving at Veneer Factory Outlet
5. Clamping or vacuum bagging will be necessary when using PVA glues

6. If clamping, using MDF under and above your project works best because of the super flat surface

7. Titebond recommends leaving it clamped or bagged for at least 24 hours to fully cure

8. Titebond also has a polyurethane glue that cures in 6 hours, but we have not heard of anyone using it for our product.  Our backer supplier, Richmond Industries, says our backer, Polybak, can be used with it, but we don’t know and cannot say either way about the pros and cons of using it over the regular Titebond PVA glues.

9. Using PVA glues can get quite messy, as one of our premier woodworkers in Hawaii, Radical Woodworks, can attest to, so be careful.  It is sometimes helpful to put an overlay of wax paper around the seam area where the glue might be push out of the seams and move to the wood surface area.   That extra layer will help keep the glue off your wood surface.

Great tutorial video using PVA with veneers

II. Contact Cement
1. Solvent-based cements work better than water-based and you can read all about it on the web and decide for yourself which you may want to use

2. It is recommended to use two coats on both surfaces which means a total of four coats; two on your substrate and two on the back of the KamiPLY

3. Use a roller or wide putty knife to apply as smoothly and evenly as possible

4. Most cements will need roughly 30 ~ 60 minutes of drying time between the two coats, but be sure to always check with the manufacturers’ recommendations

5. After 2nd coat be prepared to lay on substrate while still wet – it will adhere very well on contact, so be careful to have everything lined up

6. Use a roller over the entire surface of the veneer to apply pressure so the paper and substrate get a good bond over 100% of the sheet

Here is a great tutorial video about using contact cement with veneers

We do hope this was helpful for you in your pursuit of enhancing your woodworking skills.   Please do add a comment about your own experiences, tips and ever-so-important, what NOT to do!


Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.