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How to Apply Veneer to a Guitar Top

Updated April 17, 2017

When building a guitar, you will encounter several challenging steps; however, applying the veneer top is not one of those challenges. You can easily cover the face of your guitar with veneer--a thin, pressed sheet of beautiful wood--to give the guitar a sleek and professional look. After you apply the top veneer to your guitar, you can successfully continue to stain, finish and seal your guitar to complete its construction.

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  1. Lay two sheets of veneer next to each other so they are big enough to cover the guitar body. Make sure to match up the grain on both sheets for a natural look. Tape the sheets of veneer together with a piece of masking tape. The tape should go the whole length of the seam between the sheets.

  2. Put the guitar body on top of the taped veneer sheets, with the tape perfectly in the middle of the guitar body. The tape and the guitar body should both be running vertically.

  3. Trace the outline of the guitar body onto the veneer with a pencil. Make the outline 3/4 inch wider than the actual shape of the guitar body. Cut out the traced shape on the veneer with a brand new X-acto knife. Cut slowly so the lines are clean and straight.

  4. Place the cutout shape on top of the guitar body, with the tape perfectly centred in the middle. There should be 3/4 inch extra veneer hanging over the guitar body.

  5. Fold the right half of the veneer along the taped seam so it rests on the left side of the veneer.

  6. Cover the back of the right piece of veneer with wood glue using a brush. You should also apply a layer of glue to the right side of the guitar body.

  7. Fold the glued veneer back over to the right side of the guitar body so the glued sides are touching. Gently smooth the veneer onto the guitar body with your hand.

  8. Turn the guitar body over so the veneer is facing down and place a bag of gravel on top to weigh it down. Leave the guitar body like this for three hours to let the glue dry.

  9. Take off the gravel and turn the guitar back over so the veneer is facing up. Peel off the masking tape and remove the left, not-glued sheet of veneer. The right half of the guitar body should be covered with the veneer and the left side exposed.

  10. Use the X-acto knife to cut out the cavities in the guitar body that the veneer is covering. Carefully remove all of the excess veneer from these cavities and from around the edge of the body.

  11. Glue the back of the other sheet of veneer and the exposed guitar body and position the veneer in place right along the edge of the already set veneer. The entire guitar should be covered with veneer.

  12. Turn the guitar over and let it rest for three hours with the gravel on top.

  13. Cut out the cavities on the left side of the veneer. Trim these and the excess in the same way as you did for the right side.

  14. Tip

    You can misalign the grain of the veneers purposely for a modern, asymmetrical look.


    Never use a blunt X-acto blade; it could make the veneer strip or splinter.

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Things You'll Need

  • Veneer sheets
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • X-Acto knife
  • Wood glue
  • Brush
  • Bag of gravel

About the Author

Based in New Jersey, Susan Raphael has been writing technology-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in “Wired” magazine, and “Mac Addict” magazine. Raphael received the Janet B. Smith Literary Award in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from New York University.

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