How to Finish Wood Veneer

Written by mark morris
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How to Finish Wood Veneer
Wood veneer is finished with similar techniques to solid wood. (wood texture image by Aleksey Bakaleev from

Wood veneer gives the look of hardwood without the expense. Hardwood veneers are thin slices of actual hardwoods that can be applied over lesser woods and even manufactured wood products to create the look and feel of genuine hardwood. Veneer is finished with techniques similar to those used for solid woods. Proper preparation and application of finishing products is the key to a quality finish.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sandpaper
  • Random orbital sander
  • Stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Clear furniture finish
  • Steel wool

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  1. 1

    Sand the surface of the veneer with 120-grit paper on the first pass, working with the grain of the veneer in long, straight strokes. Use a random orbit sander for best results. Rub the veneer down with a tackcloth to remove the dust after the first pass. Sand the surface a second time with 220-grit paper and run the tackcloth over the surface again.

  2. 2

    Apply a coat of stain to the veneer, using a soft-bristle brush. Use a colour chart or sample chips to choose a colour of stain that will work well with your veneer. Apply the stain with long, straight strokes in the direction of the grain. Work to avoid runs and drips in the stain. Apply it as evenly as possible.

  3. 3

    Sand the veneer lightly with 220-grit paper to smooth grain that may have been raised in the staining process. Work in the direction of the grain. Wipe the veneer with the tackcloth.

  4. 4

    Clean the brush thoroughly with denatured alcohol to remove the stain. Wash the bristles with soap and water and allow the brush to dry thoroughly.

  5. 5

    Apply a coat of clear furniture finish in your choice of sheens, using the natural-bristle brush. Allow the finish to dry thoroughly and polish the veneer with 0000-steel wool lightly. Wipe away the dust with a tackcloth. Apply one or two more coats of clear finish, polishing with steel wool between each coat. Leave the last coat unpolished and allow the finish to dry.

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