What some may not know is that beech is in the same family as oak even though the two are in many ways very different woods. Consequently, beech wood, and thereby beech veneer, like oak, are very hard, very durable, and highly suitable for use in decorating furniture, cabinets, tabletops, and much more.
It’s even more popular due to its tight, straight grain and the beauty of the wood, which is often faintly pale pink to a creamy white. It also accepts stains and finishes nicely, which can preserve the warmth of the wood.
But veneer is thin and must be applied very carefully if you want to get the effect you’re looking for.
If you’re unfamiliar with the medium, it pays to read up before applying so you can steer clear of these common veneer issues.
Since beech veneer is made from very thin, fine sheets of beech wood, it’s critical to take particular care when preparing it before you finish it.
Wood veneer from Oakwood comes to you pre-sanded with 180-grit sandpaper. Beyond that it’s best to sand only by hand for best results and never more than 220 grit if you are staining the wood veneer.
If you’re too aggressive with your sanding, you may produce a condition known as sand-through, in which you compromise the veneer face and wear through to the backer.
Unfortunately, there is no fix for sand-through, and the damage is permanent. The only way to treat it is to prevent it.
Be careful and meticulous when sanding, and make only one pass through the grits you’re using. Also,never use ower sanders; do it only by hand.
Though beech is a dense, durable wood, beech veneer is very light and thin. Moreover, beech wood tends to be very light-colored, and will show water damage and discolor easily.
The best way to protect against water damage in beech wood veneer, as with all wood veneers, is to protect it from moisture exposure. The second best way is to treat it with a sealant or finish.
There are a wide range of finishes and sealants that will protect beech veneer (and other species of veneer, for that matter).
Water-based polyurethane is a good overall veneer finish, as it applies easily and it dries quickly. It will form a near-impenetrable barrier against moisture damage once it dries.
Other alternatives include lacquer and shellac. Of the two, lacquer is more durable and provides better protection against moisture damage.
There are also oil-based stains and finishes, which, though they are better than nothing, don’t provide the same level of protection to a veneer face against moisture damage.
Sometimes, after you’ve applied beech veneer, it occasionally could bubble back up, or bubbles will form at the surface, even if the surface was flat when you first applied it. Unfortunately, bubbling can happen with all wood veneer applications.
Bubbles can form for a wide range of reasons. One reason bubbles form is through inadequate or uneven application of adhesive. Another reason bubbles can form is if you used glue that was basically expired.
Bubbles can also crop up in the surface of wood veneer if the substrate absorbs too much of the adhesive before you apply the veneer sheet, or if there is any moisture trapped between the layers.
Obviously, you should only use adhesive that has not exceeded its shelf life. It’s also advisable to apply wood veneer only when the relative humidity is below 50% and after acclimating both the veneer and substrate in the same environment for at least 48 hours.
To find bubbles on the surface of a veneer sheet, shine a light across it; this will cast shadows wherever bubbles are present.
One quick and easy way to fix bubbles in beech veneer is to make a thin slit through the bubble with a razor, in the direction of the grain (easy in beech, thanks to its fine silky texture and tight uniform grain), apply a little adhesive under it, and press it or clamp it back down flat.
Another common issue in European or American unsteamed beech veneer is tear-out, which occurs when the wood fibers shear away from each other before being severed, leaving a ragged, uneven edge.
Tear-out is particularly common in woods with porous grains and hard fibers, such as oak, hickory, and beech veneer, but it can occur in almost any species.
There are a few ways to prevent tearout. One is to avoid, where possible, the use of a saw, since the teeth of saws are notorious for causing tearout.
Another solution to tearout is to use a very sharp knife, and to score the area to be cut several times before cutting. Scoring “pre-cuts” the fibers, reducing the risk of tear-out.
Learn More About High-Quality Beech Veneer and Veneer Application Tips
These four issues are common when applying beech veneer, but a little bit of knowledge paired with experience goes a long way.
Whether you’re looking for additional tips on veneer application or just need to find a supplier of quality European or American unsteamed beech veneer sheets and panels for your next project, visit Oakwood Veneer.
They carry a wide range of domestic and exotic veneer sheets and panels in an equally wide range of cuts, including flat and quarter cut, and have published a comprehensive database of reference materials. Visit their website or get in touch with them at 800-426-6018 for more information.