I've done lots of various woodworking projects, but until refinishing the dashboard of my Triumph, never did anything with veneer. I learned a lot about the process online, especially joewoodworker.com, which also sell supplies at another site. It's all good information, but they pull pretty hard for using a vacuum press, which I don't own and didn't want to buy for one project.
There are plenty of plans around for making a vacuum press, and that would be an interesting project in itself. But, against my usual inclinations, I didn't want to sink a couple hundred dollars in what would likely be a 1-time tool. The large size of the dashboard (almost 4' long) would also have added to the cost of materials.
The dash is just a big slab of plywood on the face, so it seemed like a plain clamp would do the job. There were some low spots because a previous owner had apparently taken a power sander to it, but I was able to use some wood filler to level it out pretty well.
So I dug around my workshop and realized that I have a fair amount of 3/4" plywood cutoffs that are pretty stiff, especially at just a foot or so long. I also had some boards long enough to sandwich the full length of the dash, and a board that was conveniently cupped to apply some extra center pressure.
A lot of cutting pieces to size and drilling, I had the wood parts ready.
About $5 in hardware later, I made this clamping sandwich:
They're standard 1/4x20 bolts in tight 1/4" holes, so the bolts are fairly fixed. I put a socket on my cordless drill so I could snug it up and open it pretty quickly.
I didn't get a picture of the dash fresh from the clamp, but imagine a plain board and you're about there.
After trimming the veneer to the edges and cutouts, I had this:
Key things I learned:
- The glue roller was totally worth it, I can't imagine getting an even coat of glue on a base that large with a brush
- Remember to remove the temporary tape when making seams (I book matched the center seam for style)
- A vacuum press would have been better, because despite my filling and prep work, the surface still wasn't entirely flat. Not terrible, but would have saved me some touch-up gluing at a couple of edges.
- The veneer itself is actually pretty cheap for most wood
Now I have a giant bottle of veneer glue and a big chunk of walnut leftover, need to find something else to resurface.