Veneers have the reputation of being pretty tough customers once they're installed. But these ultra-thin woods can be cantankerous and downright difficult if not stored right.
Box of rolled veneer

Whether you're dealing with paper-thin 164 " flexible material or 128 "-thick stock, the rules for keeping it usable are the same. These tips came from discussions with two veneer pros and from our own project building experiences.

  1. Keep it flat. Most veneers come as flat sheets, although flexible (paper- or adhesive-backed) veneer may be sold in a roll. Always unroll these materials and store them flat. Stack pieces on a flat surface with the largest on the bottom, as shown in the illustration. To form the next layer, place smaller pieces side by side, covering as much of the larger sheets as possible.
  2. Apply light pressure. Place a sheet of plywood or particleboard (we use 34 " sheets) on your veneer, covering the entire surface. The weight usually provides enough pressure to keep the veneer flat and straighten minor curling. If it doesn't, add weight (a few bricks will do). However, do not try to straighten badly buckled dry veneer with excess pressure because it may crack or split.
  3. Keep sunlight away. Exposure to sunlight (the ultraviolet rays) may cause the veneer to fade or change color. A protective covering of burlap or heavy cloth blocks the sunlight.
  4. Maintain proper humidity. According to Joe Parsi of Artistry in Veneers, veneer has about a 12-percent moisture content after cutting and processing. The material should stabilize between 6 and 10 percent in a heated room. Radical changes in relative humidity may cause extreme expansion or contraction and curl or crack the veneer. You can measure the moisture content precisely with a moisture meter, although maintaining a relative air humidity between 45 and 60 percent generally ensures proper moisture stabilization.

So save those scraps after a veneering project. They'll be handy for those patching jobs, for an inlay, or other marquetry projects. Stored right, they will be usable.

How to recover curling veneer Here's how Alan Fitchett, a noted marquetarian, tackles this problem. Start by applying a light spray of water on the surface of the veneer with a mist bottle. Then, place brown Kraft paper between the pieces and follow the storage suggestions mentioned above, adding some weight if necessary. He cautions you not to use newspaper because the ink may transfer to your veneer. Allow the veneer to dry; then remove and replace the Kraft paper with new, dry paper, reflatten, and cover with burlap. Allow the treated veneer to stabilize 24 to 48 hours before using.