Hammer veneering with hide glue
Patrick Edwards demonstrates how hide glue allows you to quickly add veneer to a piece without clamps or a vacuum bag.
Animal protein glues have been used for centuries going back to the Egyptians. In fact, as far as I can tell through documentation, the earliest use of this glue was 8,000 years ago. It’s been used for so long because it works really well. One of the more traditional applications of hide glue is hammer veneering using only a very simple tool, a veneer hammer, which is really more of a squeegee.
The hammer veneering process
First, you need to practice this technique. It’s best to start out with scraps of veneer that are flat, and stay flat. Don’t start with crotch mahogany or burls–they’re going to fight you until you learn the process. Get some simple pieces of veneer that you can trust and a piece of scrap pine and get veneering.
One thing that’s easy to do with the hammer venturing is to put banding on the edge of a piece of wood. Remember, veneer used to be part of a tree, and as a result it has a heartwood side and a sapwood side. If you wet the veneer and the heartwood is facedown, the sides will curve up and away. I like to apply my veneer with the heartwood side up so that the curve will hold the edges down.
I apply glue to the substrate and then place the veneer, heartwood side down, on top of the substrate. Apply glue to the veneer, flip it over so the heartwood faces up, and bring the two glued surfaces together. Making sure your edges overhang, take your veneer hammer, using it as a squeegee, and squeeze out the air between the veneer and substrate. I expect to see a small bead of glue coming out of each side showing that the right amount of glue has been used and that there’s no vacuum getting broken. After waiting a few hours for the glue to cure, simply trim off the overhang with a veneer saw.