Wavy Veneer Problems

I recently built an all-wood music stand. I made the back from Finnish plywood and veneered the face with a walnut burl veneer, which came with the glue already applied. After several months the surface has become wavy although I can’t feel any bubbles under the veneer. What went wrong?

Michael Dresdner: It could be any number of things, but the two most likely are that the PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) surface on the veneer simply did not get adequate purchase on the substrate, and it is starting to lift, or the veneer is moving more than the substrate due to changes in its moisture content. To dial in a correct answer would require me to ask you several other questions, and since you are not here to answer them, I’ll just leave it at that.

Rob Johnstone: I think the only thing you did wrong was choosing the PSA backed veneer. It works fine for a lot of applications, but it has limitations. Generally speaking, PSA backed veneer works best with straight-grained wood applied in fairly large pieces. If the substrate is properly prepared, PSA backed veneer’s overall bonding success will improve as a function of increased square inches.

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