Lee Valley Vacuum Veneer Press

WOOD magazine rating
Lee Valley


This is an effective vacuum press for small projects. It is ideal for veneer and marquetry work, and for bending thin plies over a curved form.

Originally developed for building skateboards, the system includes a 20 mil thick, 26" x 28" heavy-duty vinyl vacuum bag with an integral one-way valve attachment, a length of breather netting (to prevent trapped air), two rolls of butyl rubber sealing tape, a hand pump, and instructions.

The press is easy to use; you glue and lay up the project, sheathe it with the breather netting, place all within the vinyl bag, seal the open end of the bag with the butyl rubber tape, then suck the air from the bag using the hand pump attached to the one-way valve. The vacuum creates ample pressure for most laminate work (about 12 psi at sea level, slightly less at higher altitudes).

All components are reusable, but additional bags, sealing tape and netting are available separately for production work. An optional 14" x 48" bag is also available for long, narrow pieces. In all, a simple and inexpensive vacuum-press system.

WOOD magazine review

Try your hand at vacuum veneering for less than $60

Review Summary

Solid-wood veneers dress up a project with a beautiful skin, while saving you money. For example, a large project made entirely from highly figured solid wood would cost an arm and a leg. With veneers, you can use man-made sheet goods, such as MDF, for the substrate. Clamping veneer gets tricky, though, especially in the middle of a workpiece where you need pressure beyond the reach of your clamps. That’s why many pro woodworkers turn to a vacuum press.
They glue the veneer to the substrate, put the whole thing inside a heavy-duty, airtight bag, and then suck all the air out of the bag with a vacuum pump, clamping the veneer tightly to the substrate, even on curved surfaces. Such systems can cost hundreds of dollars. Now comes a vacuum press as capable as the pricey systems for a lot less. Instead of an electric pump, the Vacuum Veneer Press from Lee Valley Tools uses a hand pump—the same kind wine aficionados use to seal an opened bottle—to create the suction. It takes more time, but it works great. I first veneered a small panel using the Vacuum Veneer Press. After gluing the veneer to the MDF substrate, I slipped the panel into a mesh bag (that prevents trapped air between the bag and workpiece), and then into the 26×28" vinyl bag, sealing it with the included reusable butyl tape. Next, I seated the vacuum pump on the one-way valve and pumped it until I couldn’t pump any more. I let the assembly sit overnight, and the next morning was relieved to find that the bag held its vacuum, and my inspection of the panel after removing it from the bag revealed no bubbles under the veneer. A perfect job. I also used the Vacuum Veneer Press to make a bentwood lamination wrapped against a form. Again, the results were outstanding, with minimal springback from the lamination after it was removed from the form. —Tested by Kevin Boyle

Detailed Ratings

out of 5





Ease of Use




Tip of the Day

Flush trimming


Some project parts, such as through-tenons and screw-hiding plugs, are intentionally left too long... read more