How to Veneer MDF

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 01/06/2021

MDF is a great building material and is used extensively in furniture creation. But, let’s be honest, it’s not the best-looking material. For this reason, lots of people like to veneer MDF to make it look like solid wood. But how do you veneer MDF? Well, I got all the materials, grabbed some veneers sheets off Amazon and did the test, scroll down to see step by step instructions on how to veneer MDF.

What You Need

Here are all the bits and pieces I used on this project.

WoodPress® Cherry Wood Veneer 6 Sheet Pack
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Everbuild 502 All Purpose Wood Adhesive
£5.89
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09/23/2021 04:35 pm GMT
Basting Grill Brush Silicone Cooking Brush
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Z-Saw H-150 Dozuki Ultra-fine Crosscut Saw
£21.69
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09/23/2021 04:36 pm GMT

Step 1 – Mark and Cut Veneer

The first place to start is measuring and cutting the veneer. If your piece is small enough you can place the mdf on the veneer and trace the outline, this is what I did. Otherwise, you may need to use a tape measure to get the correct measurements.

Cherry veneer sheets

Cherry veneer sheets

Once you have your outline you will need to cut the veneer. How you cut it will depend on the thickness of your veneer. Mine was really thin, which gives you a few options when it comes to cutting. Because the wood is so thin you can actually cut it with a sharp pair of scissors. This is what I chose to do as it allows for very accurate cuts.

Another good option for accurate cuts is to use a Stanley knife and a straight edge to cut through the veneer. If your veneers is too thick for either of these options then you will need to use a saw.

Step 2 – Glue

Now comes the time to glue the veneer onto your piece of MDF. You only need to use regular wood glue here, the trick is to apply the glue generously and then spread it out. There are a few options you can use when it comes to spreading the wood glue out. They are; A brush, a roller, a rubber glue roller or some type of squeegee. I actually went with a rubber basting brush, which actually worked really well. And with it being rubber, once the glue has dried it will be easy to remove from the brush.

Spreading the glue out to cover the entire surface of the MDF is essential. As the glue dries it “sucks” the veneer onto the MDF. This is what ensures you get a good smooth finish on the veneer without any bubbles or raised areas.

Step 3 – Clamp

Now you need to clamp the veneer down to the surface of the MDF as it dries. I used a few different smaller clamps for this along with another piece of MDF. Something large and flat like another piece of MDF is good to use as it spreads out the clamping pressure, giving you an even force across the entire surface of the veneer. This helps to ensure that the veneer is glued on perfectly.

Clamping the Veneer

Clamping the Veneer

If you don’t have clamps to hand then you can use heavy objects like bricks to push the veneer down. However I would always advise using clamps, you can pick them up for a couple of quid if you use smaller hand clamps. I would say though to buy a known brand, I got some off-brand Chinese ones from amazon once and they were useless. They had no clamping force at all, so were a complete waste of money. I used the Irwin ones that you can see in the image, there not available on amazon but are on Toolstation which is where I got them from.

Step 4 – Trim The Veneer

Once the glue has dried, the glue I used had an 8 hour fully cured time but I left it for about 12 hours, then you can trim any excess veneer off to achieve a perfect finish. This is where I used my Japanese flush-cut saw, although any saw will work well here, just be delicate. The veneer is very thin so can snap rather than be sawn if you go too aggressively.

And that’s it, your done. That is all there is to veneering MDF. You can repeat the same steps to cut and glue veneer pieces to the sides of your MDF piece to completely hide the fact it was ever MDF. Because the veneer is just a really thin piece of real wood you can stain, wax, polish it to achieve the exact finish you want. Just be aware with a thin veneer you cant sand it down and re-finish it. If you try this you will most likely sand all the way through the veneer and expose the MDF below.

MDF with a cherry wood veneer

MDF with a cherry wood veneer

 

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!