Monday, July 29, 2013

A question of glue

I recently read "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker", republished by Lost Art Press.  I'll write up a full review of it sometime, but that's not the point here.  One of the things they included was an overview of how to apply veneer, and why you should be careful while doing it.  Their technique is to basically pour the glue on, really soaking the piece, before placing the veneer.  The logic was that glue is cheap, it's better to have too much than not enough, and it wasn't going to interfere with any finishes anyway.  One of their final comments was that a poor craftsman, who hadn't used enough glue, would have to steam the veneer loose and replace it, which was a waste of time and might damage the veneer.

I also recently read a couple of articles about veneering in modern publications.  One, which I can't recall the source of, talked about how you had to be fairly careful not to get glue on the outside of the veneer, because it would make it hard to apply a finish.  The other was an article in the most recent Fine Woodworking about veneer, and how to fix a void at the edge.  They said that, if the void was small, you could fill it using a wax pencil.  But then they went on to say that if it was large, you were going to have to sand or plane the veneer off and start over, because there's no way to fill that void.

Having read both, I found myself wondering if the new glues are really that big an improvement:  not only do new glues (PVA glues, specifically) interfere with finishing if you get them on the surface of the piece, but they're not reversible, so you can't fix things if you make a mistake.  Is this really progress?